By Roberto Hugo González
As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint edition June 2018
In South Texas, there is a city that has grown by leaps and bounds. This is no secret; the City of Mission has had a demographic explosion, which has precipitated an unusual business activity. The growth as reported by the last Census report is unprecedented and ahead of any other city in the Rio Grande Valley. This growth has been managed systematically making Mission more attractive to both residents and visitors.
Growth and progress don’t happen from one day to another. It takes aggressive, visionary leaders with only one thing in mind, to make Mission the best community in which to live, play, and above all to do business.
Norberto “Beto” Salinas, the current mayor is a one-of-a-kind human being. He encompasses the full spectrum of a leader who constantly multitasks and works for free as he represents his constituents.
During his two decades of service as mayor, he has been challenged, but, until the end, his supporters never give up. They know the City of Mission is in good hands. The key element of his success is that Mayor Salinas shares the vision of his supporters, and never forgets that he works for them.
As mayor, he has been able to forge a great future for Mission, keeping the small town feel in a city, while at the same time making use of all the perks and amenities of a larger city. This is something that few cities enjoy and that many would like to have.
He has dedicated his entire life to public service and has held leadership positions on the municipal, county, and statewide levels. His public service began in the 60s when he was appointed by both Republican and Democratic Governors to serve on various boards regarding such matters as indigent health care, housing, and community affairs. He continued his public service when he was elected as Hidalgo County Commissioner in the 80s.
Mayor Salinas has had an opportunity to serve in all levels of government, but his true passion is working for this City and the people of Mission. He is respected amongst neighboring cities, throughout the state, in Washington DC, and internationally. Because of these ties, the City of Mission has been able to do more with less.
Mission has received millions of dollars in federal and state funds, which have been used to improve the amenities and services for all residents. This has been done without ever raising the city’s property tax rate. In fact, under the leadership of Mayor Salinas, the tax rate went from 62 cents to 48 cents per $100 valuation. This is a record low and great savings to the residents. This has led to growth in the city, as it attracts homeowners, businesses, and developers.
Mayor Salinas said, “I want the City of Mission to continue to grow, to be a place where people want to live and enjoy a great quality of life.” His background as a land developer and as President of S & F Developers gives him an unparalleled edge when it comes to envisioning infrastructure and development projects for Mission. He played an integral part in building the Anzalduas International Bridge together with McAllen and Hidalgo.
He served as the Vice Chair of the Anzalduas Bridge Board and is now focusing on the Madero Bridge Project. Over this last term, Mayor was able to establish an interlocal agreement regarding the Madero Bridge between McAllen and Hidalgo. Additionally, Mayor Salinas has served as Chairman of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Board of Directors, which is dedicated to improving the region’s health, safety, and future development.
In the area of Parks and Recreation, after soliciting input from Mission residents via an online survey, and listening to the needs of citizens, the city committed to building a $1.8 million-dollar tennis complex. The city has also broken ground on 2 dog parks, which is a first for Mission. The City of Mission has also completed the streetscape in the downtown renovation project and is currently renovating the Leo Peña Placita Park, which will be a huge improvement to the downtown area.
As of 2015, in the area of Transportation, under the leadership of Mayor Salinas, the city has completed a $6.1 million-dollar project to improve 2 Mile-Line Road. Additionally, the city has completed a $45 million-dollar project to construct the Overpass on Inspiration and Expressway 83. Currently, the City has an $11.46 million-dollar project ongoing to improve Inspiration Road from the expressway to 3 Mile Line. It also has a $25.5 million-dollar project ongoing to improve Taylor Road from the Expressway to 2 Mile Line, and a $45 million-dollar project ongoing to improve Inspiration Road (from the expressway to Military) and Military Highway (from Inspiration to Conway).
Under his leadership, the city opened the Mission Event Center. The plan is that this event center serves as an anchor for future retail, restaurants, and hotels in Mission. This event center is a place where families can gather socially, where businesses can meet and exchange ideas, and where people can hold community outreach programs. For instance, just a few weeks ago the RGV Diabetes Association held an event (free to the public) at the Mission Event Center.
Public Safety is totally enhanced under his administration, as Mayor Salinas oversaw the construction of the state-of-the-art police department building and fire stations. The City has also increased the police force and the number of firefighters.
Additionally, under his current tenure, the city approved $184,000 dollars in body cameras for each officer, $2.5 million dollars in a Regional Communications Radio System. The City also approved $150,000 dollars for a sky watch tower, and $100,000 dollars for additional police car units, which all leads to the increased safety for first responders, as well as increased safety for all residents and visitors.
Mayor Salinas has the work ethic and tenacity to make the tough decisions to lead Mission. He prides himself on being a full-time Mayor, as he is able to dedicate his time and efforts to city business from early in the morning to late in the evening. He is the type of leader who isn’t afraid to take a hard stance against power when he believes it is the right thing to do. His son Rick calls him a lion, which when he needs to be, he most certainly is. An example of his performance, was when Mayor Salinas spearheaded the fight against the hospital district and proposition one, which ultimately benefited not just the residents of Mission, but the entire county.
Mayor Salinas is tough when he needs to be, but he also has a big heart, especially for the elderly and those who need a helping hand. Both of these qualities are needed in an effective leader. The Mayor has served as President of the Amigos Del Valle Board of Directors, which services low-income families, with an emphasis on the elder population. Mayor has always been a big proponent of our Food Pantry, which helps feed 80 to 100 families per week. Unique to Mission, and under the leadership of Mayor Salinas, the city has established Safe Haven Homes. The Safe Haven Homes help families on a temporary basis when they have been displaced because of an emergency.
Under Mayor Salinas, the city has enjoyed long-term prosperity, a tax rate that is at a record low, and property values that are increasing. Mission continues to grow attracting homeowners, restaurants, hotels, and businesses, yet residents are able to maintain a small town feel that everyone loves. Aside from being a beautiful city, it is also clean, safe, and its residents enjoy an excellent quality of life.
In this election, the Mayor’s opponents are running on the platform of change. Salinas said that change just for the sake of change isn’t good for Mission. “When my opponents are asked point blank what they would change- they don’t have a good answer, and how could they?” Salinas stated. “What could they possibly change? Why are they running for Mayor?” He continued, “Is it just a title that they want? Being Mayor isn’t about titles. It’s about putting in the work and getting the results. It is about making the tough choices, taking a stand when it’s necessary, as well as opening up your heart and lending a helping hand when it’s the right thing to do,” he finalized.