Four Edinburg councilmen appointed to EDC

EDINBURG — The council once again changed the makeup of the city’s economic development board during a meeting Thursday.

Councilman Jorge Salinas, who serves as president of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), made a motion to appoint the council to the EEDC board in order to give elected officials the opportunity to hire the nonprofit’s new executive director.

“I think we’re working together as a team, and I think that’s the best move you all can make right now,” Salinas told his colleagues on the dais.

Councilman Johnny Garcia said he had no desire to serve on the board. Instead, he said, more qualified individuals should be appointed in order to ensure transparency.

Salinas suggested Garcia join the board just for a few weeks to give him the opportunity to weigh in on the hiring of the executive director. The job posting closes Friday and it is an important position that will oversee about $6 million in taxpayer money, Salinas said.

The EEDC board president also invited the two new councilmen, Garcia and David White, to learn about the functions and projects that the nonprofit is currently overseeing.

Garcia, however, said he served as an Edinburg Chamber of Commerce board member when it was closely aligned with EEDC and therefore already understood the nonprofit’s functions.

Councilman Gilbert Enriquez said he was willing to give up his seat as an EEDC board member in order to give the two new councilmen the opportunity to serve, but he wanted to keep the three other appointed members on the board: Xavier Salinas, Roland Gomez and Daniel Diaz.

Salinas, however, said Enriquez’s input and construction knowledge was invaluable to the EEDC board.

The mayor appeared to be onboard with Salinas’ suggestion that the council act as the economic development board, but also noted that the council has been considering whether to dismantle the nonprofit and absorb it as a city department.

“There’s other cities that have the EDC as another department, just like a planning and zoning board, and they answer to the city manager,” he said. “So that’s something that we need to consider.”

He also suggested EEDC hold off on hiring a new executive director until the new city manager, Ron Garza, begins working in order to also give him the opportunity to give his thoughts on the matter.

White said he was willing to serve on the EDC board, but said the mayor should not be included.

“I’d rather not put you on the EDC board until your legal matters are taken care of,” he told the mayor during a few tense moments. “Once they’re taken care of, I have no problem.”

“That’s fine,” the mayor replied. “But I wasn’t wanting to go on the board.”

After a few failed motions, the mayor suggested that the other four council members be appointed, and in his place, he nominated Edinburg hotelier Hiren Govind.

The motion passed 3 to 5, with Enriquez and Garcia voting against it.