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“A Man You Can Trust” “Un Hombre de Palabra” The Honorable Norberto ‘Beto’ Salinas, Mayor of the City of Mission

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As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint Edition May 2010

Written By: Dr. Gilberto de los Santos, Professor Emeritus, The University of Texas—Pan American; and Roberto Hugo Gonzalez, Texas Border Business Publisher

Mayor Salinas lives faithfully by the ethics and principles he learned from his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Adan Salinas and his paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Juan N. Salinas, as well as his maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Pedro Flores. He grew up in Cuevitas and El Rancho del Toro in Starr County.  Except for one year of school in La Joya, he attended the Rio Grande City Schools where he graduated early from high school.  He remembers fondly Judge Gaebbert as one of his teachers and his high school Principal, Mr. John Hinojosa.

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The Mayor is successfully applying important lessons he learned from all of them—honesty, integrity, hard work—and above all else to keep his word (Un Hombre de Palabra).  He also learned early in life the importance of making, keeping, and taking care of good friends.

Upon graduating from high school in 1965, he went to work in the cotton fields of West Texas around the town of Littlefield.  When the cotton season ended, he was fortunate to get employment with the local hospital and Furr’s Super Market, so he stayed in Littlefield.

He worked two jobs, one with the hospital and the other with the super market.  In November 1965, his oldest son Ricky became ill and Salinas needed to move back to the Rio Grande Valley.  Mayor Salinas said, “My boss at the Littlefield hospital where I was working helped me find a job with the McAllen General Hospital so I could have a source of income when I moved back to The Rio Grande Valley.

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“I worked for the McAllen General Hospital for several years, and later changed employment to work with the Edinburg Grandview Hospital.” Mr. Ceballos offered Mr. Salinas employment with Catalina Ambulance services, and several years later offered him the opportunity to buy the Catalina Ambulance business. As the new owner of Catalina Ambulance, he served McAllen, Mission, Weslaco, Harlingen, and Jim Wells County for 20 years.  He later operated a car lot, a monument company, and a mobile home park.  Mayor Salinas now owns and operates S & F Developers.

He is proud of his two sons and three daughters; Rick, Norberto, Maribel, Marina, and Christina who have been an inspiration in his life, and who have blessed him with 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Rick is a successful attorney with an office in Mission; Marina is an elementary school teacher in the La Joya ISD; and Christina is a marketing communications executive.  Maribel has been like a mom to her brothers and sisters, and operates some of Mayor Salinas’ businesses. Mayor Salinas deeply loves his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren!

The reason that prompted Salinas to become the Mayor of Mission was simple for him, “After serving three terms as Hidalgo County Commissioner, I decided not to seek a fourth term, and wanted only to be a contributing citizen to the City of Mission.  I noticed that Mission was not experiencing the solid growth the people of Mission deserved, so I volunteered to help as a member of the City of Mission Planning and Zoning Board.”  My offer was rejected.  I further noticed that Madero, on the South side of Mission was being neglected, so in 1997 when Mayor Ricardo Perez decided not to run for re-election, I decided to run.  I just wanted to make a difference in the growth and development of the City of Mission.”

Pat Townsend, former Mayor of Mission said to Texas Border Business, “When I served the citizens of Mission as Mayor, I was dedicated, energetic and loyal to Mission but I was also young and inexperienced. Norberto Salinas has brought many more attributes to the office of Mayor during his 12 years of service to our community. Most importantly, his experience and wisdom have been put to use for us over and over for almost every cause brought to his attention.”

He also pointed out that Mayor Salinas’ greatest attribute is his ability to connect with people, whether it is a national or state leader from the United States or Mexico, or a citizen of Mission who needs help with services from a city department. “Salinas says he is available anytime, anywhere…and he means it,” Townsend finalized.

Jim Schroeder, long time resident and businessman of Mission went even further when asked for his opinion of Mayor Salinas. “He is the man who has been the major stimulus which has catapulted the growth of Mission since he was elected twelve years ago.”

In addition he said Betos’s vision for Mission has been outstanding by bringing together the leading citizens and businessmen of Mission and getting them to all pull in the same direction for the growth of Mission. “His ability to see the whole picture has been instrumental in improving highways and roads, residential growth and developing new businesses and manufacturing, as well as opening the communications to Washington D.C., our State government in Austin and also to our neighbors in Mexico.  He was very instrumental in obtaining the Anzalduas Bridge crossing. Without him leading the City, we would still be stuck in the 1980’s.”

The residents of Mission feel proud of Salinas’ leadership and when he is asked “What have you done as Mayor to make a difference in Mission?”  The Mayor’s response is, “Probably the biggest difference has been that I have helped unite the City of Mission residents—those who live on the North, South, East, and West sides—for a balanced city growth to improve the quality of life for all our citizens. The railroad tracks are no longer the dividing line for city areas receiving vastly unequal city services.  I am thankful to my good friend Governor Rick Perry for investing over $300-million in state funds to improve the city’s infrastructure.  For example, when I became Mayor we had only one Fire Station with 14 fire fighters, and now we have five Fire Stations with 67 fire fighters (This statement made in May 2010).  During my first term, we built our Police Station, and during my second term we constructed our City Hall.  When I became mayor we had only a hand full of Police Officers, today we have 128 Peace Officers.  We have improved the city’s sewer systems, our water plant, and our streets and highways.  The City of Mission now has direct accessibility to Mexico via the Anzalduas International Bridge, and Mexico has direct access to the City of Mission.  We have accomplished all these improvements with a decrease in the City Property Taxes from $.62 to $.55 per $100.00 property valuation!”   Mayor Salinas added, “My goal is to decrease the City Tax rate even further from the current $.55 to $.49.”

The citizens of the City of Mission are evidently pleased with the progress made under the leadership of Mayor Salinas.  He was recognized as “Mr. Mission” for Outstanding Service to the community. Mayor Salinas was honored with the “Gold Club Lifetime Membership Award” by the Mission Chamber of Commerce, the “Man of the Year” recognition by the City of Mission, and “Citizen of the Year” award by the Rotary Club of Mission.

Mayor Salinas has also served honorably and with distinction outside the City of Mission.  He served as Board Member of the Hidalgo County Chapter of the American Red Cross, President of the Texas Ambulance Association, Mexican American Democrat Chairman of Texas.  He was honored with the “Outstanding Achievement Award” by the American Red Cross, inducted into the “RGV Walk of Fame”, and received the “Mr. Amigos Award” by Amigos del Valle.

Governor Rick Perry appointed Mayor Salinas to serve as a Board Member of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, and he served from 2001 to 2007.  He is now serving as Vice Chair for the Anzalduas Bridge Board of Directors, Commissioner of the Texas Funeral Services Commission, and Member of the Texas Department of Transportation MPO Policy Committee.

The City of Mission is abundantly blessed to have a true leader, a man the citizens of Mission can trust, “Un Hombre de Palabra!” TBB this article was published on May 2010 by Texas Border Business newsprint Edition.

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