EDINBURG — While council members here kept silent on Mayor Richard Molina’s arrest Thursday, the two former candidates who ran against him in the now-marred 2017 November election had plenty to say.
“Whereas I am not surprised by the incidents of today, I cannot say that I am gladdened,” former Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia wrote in a Facebook post hours after Molina’s arrest on organized election fraud and illegal voting charges.
Molina unseated Garcia in the 2017 mayoral race, which has now come into question as a result of the illegal voting allegations the mayor faces in relation to that election, by more than 1,000 votes.
“In fact, I am saddened that our community receives this black eye; particularly when it was once seen as the Valley’s rising star filled with promise and integrity,” Garcia added.
Gina Alamia, who also ran against Molina in November 2017, said many people knew about the alleged voter fraud and the mayor’s pending arrest.
“It’s about time,” she said. “It took two years for this to come to light. Everything that I believed was happening, happened.”
Garcia also said he had been hearing rumors about the case, but “very deliberately stayed away from commenting, asking (or) monitoring any of it.”
Instead, he said, Garcia let the investigation run its course.
“In spite of many immediate and obvious discrepancies at the time of the election, I did not contest the outcome,” Garcia wrote. “I believe in our democracy with every fiber of my being. This is why a day like today is not a victory for anyone. It is an assault on the very democracy and the democratic process that we hold so dear to our hearts, and for which so many of us and our loved ones have fought to conserve.”
Alamia also reminded that Molina is “innocent until proven guilty.”
“Let the higher courts decide a person’s innocence or guilt, but if you’re guilty of the crime, you should do the time,” she said. “Anyone who has committed these types of crimes — that people have given their life for — they need to suffer the consequences.”
Molina’s wife, Dalia Molina, was also arrested on an illegal voting charge. But neither husband nor wife spent much time in jail; they were booked and released from the Hidalgo County custody in about 45 minutes. Their bonds were posted by David’s Bail Bonds, which is owned by council member David Torres.
The mayor was even able to attend a 1:30 p.m. city workshop about the future of the Ebony Hills Golf Course.
At the meeting, Molina declined to comment based on his attorney’s advice, but said he would release a statement next week.
The rest of the council also declined to comment on the arrest. And by most accounts, it was back to business as usual for the city.
Still, the arrest once again cast a harsh light over the city.
“Edinburg has suffered a tremendous set back (sic) both in the eyes of our sister cities, of our residents and of the investment communities at large,” Garcia wrote. “But we will recover and re-emerge stronger. This too, I believe.”
For Alamia, the arrests were a necessary step.
“Let it be told that this needed to happen,” she said. “It finally gives a sigh of relief to our city.”