Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez was candid Tuesday in response to continued calls to remove Pharr City Commissioner Ricardo Medina for a controversial comment shared on social media.
Medina came under fire earlier this month for calling the man who shouted a racial slur while wielding a chainsaw at Black Lives Matter protesters in McAllen a hero, drawing ire from throughout the Rio Grande Valley and across the country.
Among those is Guadalupe Pardo of La Feria, who authored a change.org petition which has thus far garnered more than 1,600 signatures calling for Medina’s removal.
“I had seen a lot of conversations around Medina’s comment before I had made the petition, and it was a lot of people talking about how inappropriate they were. A lot of people were calling for him to resign as well,” Pardo said. “I had seen another petition going around that was looking for answers, and I thought it’d be more beneficial if I made one that was specifically asking for him to step down.”
Pardo created the petition on June 8, just after Medina’s comment began gaining widespread attention.
Medina has not commented to The Monitor about his remarks on Facebook, but he did issue a statement and spoke at a special meeting Friday.
Hernandez and Medina both took time at that meeting to address the situation. Medina took responsibility for his comment, saying that he jumped to conclusions and made a mistake.
Pardo said that there needs to be more accountability with local elected officials.
“It’s important to keep accountability,” Pardo said. “I want Medina to understand that this isn’t something that is just going to boil over, especially for all elected officials that represent that Valley.”
She said that she hopes to see her petition grow by a few thousand signatures before she submits a physical copy to Hernandez and Medina.
Hernandez said that he’s unaware of whether the people who signed that petition are Pharr residents.
“For us, that’s the only thing that matters because number one: this is the city of Pharr. …So the first question that I have is, ‘show me the residencies of those signatures.’ Because if they’re from Reynosa or New Mexico, that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean anything to me,” Hernandez said.
The mayor, however, was careful not to dismiss the criticism about a commissioner on the basis of where the individuals who harbor those concerns reside, explaining he’d sit down with anyone to discuss the issue.
“My policy is very clear. I have an open door policy. I’ll meet and speak to anybody,” Hernandez said. “Let’s be clear, I don’t want any preconceived notions, just because you sit down with a mayor to have a discussion, it is exactly by definition a discussion.”
Hernandez also defended officials’ rights to free speech.
“The problem that I see is that people love the First Amendment, but only when it applies to you,” Hernandez said. “You’re not really respecting the First Amendment if somebody else has a contrary point of view, or doesn’t agree with your point of view.”