PHARR — In part a parody of his full-time job as a surgeon, Mayor Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez sported scrubs and delivered a healthy prognosis for Pharr during the annual state of the city address Thursday, where Hernandez focused on the city’s international bridge, transportation and economic development.
Hernandez’s third state of the city speech built off his previous two, touting growth and construction across Pharr. An estimated 750 elected officials, state legislators, medical professionals, businesspeople and furloughed federal employees from across the region were in attendance at the Pharr Events Center on Thursday for the speech.
Graphics of heartbeat monitors behind Hernandez on stage provided a backdrop as Hernandez made medically tinged references to the current state of Pharr, such as the city’s likely course: “Excellent, and expected to move forward on a continued path of success.”
Hernandez, a pediatric surgeon, brought out a group of patients he has operated on previous years, and the patients’ families, who spoke about the mayor’s care and compassion. Hernandez said that when he ran for office in 2015, many doubted the ability of a surgeon to run a city, but he believes he has quieted those concerns.
During his tenure, the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge has continued trending upward, as it is the busiest port of entry in the country for produce crossing into the United States. The bridge brings the city more than $12 million annually, which has caught the eye of many elected officials.
On the large screen on stage behind Hernandez, at one point a picture flashed of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, alongside Hernandez at the bridge from 2017. Cruz made a joke about Hernandez’s scrubs during that meeting.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has been particularly fond of the bridge, visiting twice in the last three months, which Hernandez recognized on Thursday. Miller was there in October to ring in the beginning of the 2018-19 produce season and again last week for his official swearing into office for his second term as the state agriculture commissioner, the first time a statewide politician was sworn into office outside Austin.
Thursday’s event was paid for entirely by sponsors, Hernandez said. Sponsors also provided fresh produce along the sides of the event center, which was another nod to the city’s international bridge.
“Please,” Hernandez told the crowd. “Take some on your way out.”