Palmview City Council election draws half a dozen hopefuls

Top row, from left to right: Adrian Canales, Alexandra Flores, and Guadalupe "Wally" Alonzo Barrera Jr. Bottom row, from left to right: Linda Sarabia, Javier Ramirez and Joel Garcia

The three Palmview City Council members that made sweeping changes within the administration soon after their 2016 election are now being challenged for their seats in this year’s November elections.

A political slate of candidates, called “A New Palmview” is among the choices before Palmview voters.

The group consists of employees of the La Joya Independent School District — Adrian Canales, a P.E. teacher; Alexandra Flores, a guidance counselor; and Guadalupe “Wally” Alonzo Barrera Jr., a teacher.

They’re running for places 1, 3 and 5 on the city council, respectively.

“We as a team, myself, Adrian and Wally, we have a similar vision of what we want for this city,” Flores said, “and that’s basically just to bring the basics.”

Among those basic things, she said, were more frequent brush pickups, ensuring they city is putting pressure on the Agua Special Utility District to complete their projects such as the project to install a sewer system in Palmview, ensuring that they’re hiring good, quality companies to pave their roads, and beautification.

“Just simple things to make our city look nicer,” Flores said, “planting more trees; our parks need a facelift for sure.”

She seemed especially passionate on the idea of expanding the city’s sports program.

“Our area has been missing out on a lot of different sports,” Flores said. “I think we primarily focus on baseball and where does that leave the rest of the teams, the rest of the coaches?”

“Whenever they get their students, they’re building them from the ground up at the high school level or at the middle school level whereas other neighboring cities, such as Mission and McAllen, had them since they were tiny for volleyball, for football, for soccer, for all these other sports so we need to build that program as well.”

The need for a library in the city was another thing the candidates seemed to agree on.

Flores said she knew an effort to open one in the city was already in the works but didn’t know why it had stalled for so many years. Whatever the reason, she said, she and her running mates would prioritize it if they were elected.

She also expected that once Agua SUD’s sewer project was completed, businesses would start to open up locations there and they would certainly welcome them.

“We know these communities, we meet with them every day, we talk to them every day,” Flores said about the parents they engage with as educators. “We assist them in making very important life decisions and so we’re just here to serve yet a little more and in a different way and in a way that we feel is going to help impact them and our families.”

One of her running mates, Barrera, was born in McAllen but raised in Palmview. He said that as a lifelong member of the community, he’s experienced the city in good times but also during times when residents were frustrated.

“There are a few resources that I feel we lack that are very, very important for our community,” Barrera said of why he was seeking a place on the council. “As an educator, I feel that we truly need to try and push toward receiving these resources and granting the community exactly what they deserve.”

Barrera also included a library as one of his priorities for the city as well as the need to establish a Boys & Girls Club.

“I know that when I was growing up here, we used to have what was a Boys & Girls Youth Club that I was very well a part of,” Barrera said. “Now we do not have it so we want to get together, my slate and I, we want to get together and establish that Boys & Girls Club, try to provide that for our children here.”

However, council member Linda Sarabia pointed out the city does have a youth club which has now added a cultural component with year-found folklorico.

Sarabia, a business owner and the place 3 council member, is part of the slate of candidates that were elected in 2016.

She ran with Javier Ramirez, the place 1 council member, and Joel Garcia, the place 5 council member.

Ramirez is the assistant director of transportation with the La Joya school district and Garcia is the owner of Collision Masters, an auto body shop.

Sarabia said the first year and a half of their terms was spent on addressing past problems.

Soon after taking office, the council brought in a consultant who reported that the city’s administration lacked policies and procedures.

The city manager at the time was eventually terminated as was the city secretary and the police chief.

“We’ve been setting the foundation — there was a lack of organization, there were departments missing in the organizational structure of the city,” Sarabia said. “We had to straighten things out and sort them all out but now that we have a foundation, we can build on that.”

Sarabia clarified, though, that while they were trying to fix existing problems, they were also starting working toward new projects.

“For example, we’re working on the library project,” she said, noting the city received a $20,000 grant for it and signed a memorandum of understanding with the La Joya school district which donated property to the city for the project.

But that was an entire process, she explained.

“We submitted for grants the first year, didn’t get approved the second year and so now this year, we got approved. We got a $20,000 grant,” she said. “Same thing with the parks — we applied for a grant and in the first year we found out that we didn’t have a master plan. OK, next year we prepared with a master plan, now we got approved.”

“It’s no longer just a dream or a plan, we’re further down in the project,” Sarabia said. “We got the funds so we can start.”

Another project in the works is their main street development project.

With funds from the Municipal Development District, which was raised from sales tax revenue, the city purchased property where they hope to bring in developers, franchises, and retailers, according to Sarabia.

“I just feel like us leaving it like that would be setting our city back,” she said. “We need to finish what we started and for somebody else to want to try to come and figure it out, it’s going to set the city back.”

Ramirez, the place 1 incumbent, reiterated that he, Sarabia and Garcia had spent a lot of time and effort into the city and hopes to continue working on their plans and goals.

“There’s just too much work to be done,” Ramirez said. “and at the end of the day, the three of us have a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion for serving our community.”

Garcia, the place 5 incumbent, said a lot of what they were able to accomplish is because of the people that they put in place.

“That’s the first thing we did, we placed the people in the right place, and this is what we’re getting but it takes time,” Garcia said.

Reiterating what Sarabia said, Garcia noted that while it took a few years, the city was approved for grants that will benefit the community for years to come.

“We know what’s going on, we really know what is coming,” Garcia said as to why he hoped citizens would reelect them. “We’re looking forward to our harvest, what we planted.”