Note: An update to this story was posted on April 25, 2019 after news broke from the Texas Attorney General’s office. The updated story can be found here.

Both sides of the political spectrum have witnessed different anti-establishment movements, indicating a general undercurrent against the status quo in America, and the mayoral race in the City of Edinburg is one of many locally based illustrations of that movement.

Richard Molina, the new mayor-elect for the city of Edinburg, beat outgoing Mayor Richard Garcia, an incumbent of twelve years. Molina, Edinburg city councilman place 1, decided earlier this year to run for mayor. Molina was motivated to run due to fiscal irresponsibility by city officials.

(Richard Molina, mayor-elect City of Edinburg)

“A lot of the bad decisions were being made by the majority (city council), with taxpayer dollars and EDC monies,” Molina previously stated, “I felt I had a responsibility to step up and run for mayor.”

The other mayoral candidate, Gina Alamia, garnered only seven percent of the vote. Alamia, a grassroots activist herself, is optimistic about the future of Edinburg as city hall is “desperately” in need of change. Others obviously felt the same way.

Overall, Edinburg’s city election was a heated contest with three of the five seats up for grabs. Mayor Garcia held a ticketed slate, coined as “Edinburg United,” with Richard Gonzalez (Place 1) and Roland Villarreal (Place 2). Some of his supporters felt this culminated in his loss, as he didn’t run a separate campaign, and all three candidates lost to Molina’s allies.

Others would argue that what ultimately exhausted the voters was Garcia’s deferment on issues regarding his position as President of EEDC (Edinburg Economic Development Corporation) for 14 years, ever-increasing property taxes, bloated campaign expenditures spent on Mike Carrerra (Political/marketing consultant), as well as various contracts given to friends/family members paid for by tax dollars.

Whereas the grassroots efforts of Richard Molina’s campaign were favored by Edinburg residents, voters overwhelmingly made their voices heard at the polls last week.

Around the Valley, it had been rumored that whomever won the Edinburg mayoral race would affect the outcome of county races in 2018, particularly both the Hidalgo County Judge and Commissioner Pct. 4. With Richard Molina winning, rumors emerged on Friday as Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia began to re-think his rescinded candidacy.

Garcia’s challenger, Eloy Pulido (former Hidalgo County Judge, 1999-2003), stated this has to do with the courthouse conveniently located in Edinburg. “I’m thinking it’s the special interests that have been pushing him back in,” Pulido states, “…one being Proposition 1 [Healthcare district] and putting it back on the ballot in 2018. The second one is the $150 million courthouse.” However, as of Sunday, Judge Garcia withdrew any consideration for re-election and pledged his full support for Richard Cortez (McAllen city councilman and former mayor) as his successor.

Another candidate in the county judge race, running on the republican ticket, is business real estate property manager Jane Cross of McAllen. Her demeanor resonates anti-establishment as she’s running to “Cross out Corruption,” along with campaign slogans such as “Vamonos a la Ching,” (Get the F-out!). Her reason for such drastic phrases? “I want to bring some truth to the office…I want the county to be proud to be number one in something other than corruption.”

Several politicos who contacted the Texas Scorecard stated a greater impact would be felt in the county commissioner precinct 4 race as Joseph Palacios, who currently sits in that seat, will most likely have a challenger after his family supported Mayor Garcia’s campaign.

New political factions are rising in the Rio Grande Valley, and the then once powerful Palacios political-machine family, is slowly being chipped away by grassroots efforts and anti-establishment campaigns. Outsiders have began winning elections without the support of power-players in the Valley, case in point Richard Molina, as well as U.S. House Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-CD 15). It’s rumored backlash from this new power in Edinburg will take bids at county seats next election cycle.

For now, anti-establishment sentiments have overcome the city of Edinburg as Richard Molina ousted Mayor Richard Garcia with almost 54% of the ballots cast (4,518 votes). Record numbers in early voting were reported at the county-level versus the rest of the state. However, as Edinburg brought in 8,420 votes for its city of Edinburg mayoral race, only about 21.07% of the 41,325 registered voters in Edinburg that voted for the new mayor.

On Wednesday, November 15, Richard Molina and his allies, Jorge “Coach” Salinas (Place 1), and Gilbert Enriquez (Place 2), will be publicly sworn-in at Edinburg City Hall at 5 pm. Mayor-elect Molina encourages everyone to participate in their city government and invites them to attend their city council meetings held bi-weekly, beginning today at 6:30 pm.

Changes are well underway for the city of Edinburg.

Miriam Cepeda

Miriam Cepeda is the Rio Grande Valley Bureau Chief for Texas Scorecard. A second-generation Mexican American, she is both fluent in English and Spanish and has been influential in grassroots organizing and conservative engagement within Hispanic communities. If you don’t find her “Trumping”, you can find her saving animals, running her dog, hiking the Andes, or volunteering with the U.S. National Park Service.



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