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Harlingen mayor, challenger face off in debate

6 months 5 days 54 minutes ago Tuesday, March 29 2022 Mar 29, 2022 March 29, 2022 7:17 AM March 29, 2022 in Election Coverage

A one-on-one debate held in front of a live audience Monday night allowed both the incumbent and challenger to make their case as to why they should be elected mayor of the city of Harlingen.

The roughly hour-long event at the Harlingen Cultural Arts Center was hosted by Cameron County Conservatives, composed mainly of local issues, with the exception of a “rapid-fire” session that received mixed reviews from those in attendance.

Attorney Chris Boswell was originally elected mayor in 2007 and has since held five three-year terms. During his introduction, he spoke to his experience as a civil servant.

“I want to create,” Boswell said. “I want to continue to help be a part of the team that creates more opportunity for all of our citizens.”

Norma Sepulveda, also a practicing attorney, criticized and said that the mayor has not done enough for the city during his tenure.

“It’s time for new vision, a new direction,” Sepulveda said. “To (not only) build on the good things that we do have in the city of Harlingen, but to move forward.”

Sepulveda also made claims that Boswell has not addressed the city’s drainage issues, has kept the city from growing economically and stated that small businesses were “forgotten” by the city at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The debate, however, encouraged rebuttals, effectively allowing Boswell to respond to those claims in 30-second retorts. Boswell instead responded that the city has changed for the better, even citing population growth in the past ten years.

In terms of drainage, he said 27 projects in total have been completed during his 15-year tenure and that more are on the way.

“We need to continue to build on our strengths, our healthcare industry, our partnerships with higher education and to make this community even stronger and even better than it is right now,” he said.

While Boswell stated that “all jobs are good jobs,” Sepulveda instead mentioned that it’s important that the city works to bring higher-paying jobs into the city.

“We need good paying jobs, we don’t need more call centers coming into our mall or anywhere else in the city of Harlingen,” she said. “We need high-paying jobs to ensure that our kids have jobs when they graduate from college.”

The full debate was streamed live on Cameron County Conservatives’ Facebook page and is available to view.

In addition to the seat of mayor, District 1 and 2 city commission seats will also be on the ballot.

The city’s general election is May 7.

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