Candidates in Brownsville runoff races participate in forum

By: Rudy Mireles

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Candidates from each of Brownsville's runoff races for city commission seats made their pitch to voters as they prepare for the final stretch of their campaigns.

WATCH: Frontera Progressives hosts Brownsville City Commission Runoff candidate forum  

Of the four candidates invited by Frontera Progressives, only District 4 Incumbent Ben Neece and District 3 Candidate Roy De Los Santos participated.

On the topic of SpaceX leaving some residents behind, Neece says working with nonprofits will be key.

"Depending on how the residents that are there are able to latch on and benefit and progress is something that people like Frontera Progressives and other social services should help and get on the ground floor,” Neece said.

De Los Santos saying education will help bring residents to the table, with the city needing to work with the education sector.

"Texas Southmost College, UTRGV, other universities throughout the state - and leverage what type of influence we have with training programs we can attract to the area to ensure we are training our citizens to be qualified for these jobs,” De Los Santos said.

When it comes to the increasing costs of home ownership because of new business, De Los Santos says making affordable housing easier to build is just one part of the puzzle.

"We've also got to work with the Cameron County Appraisal District because that's one of the biggest things is, no matter what we do, if they can come in and raise your valuation on your property, that can adversely affect you even when property tax rates don't go up,” De Los Santos said. “Or even if tax rates go down, you can still be adversely affected."

Neece saying continuing partnerships with organizations like CDCB and providing new incentives will help.

"Just like we do with historic homes - where we give them tax breaks and stuff like that - we might be able to also develop some plans to put a cap on some of these lower-income homes,” Neece said.

Looking to avoid another infrastructure disaster like the freeze, Neece says new measures to hold Brownsville PUB accountable and turning previous failures, like the Tanaska deal, into a positive need to happen.

"Some right-aways that we acquired that would be useful to bring the gas from the port to Brownsville PUB and also distribute it down out to the rest of the Valley,” Neece said. “So we might be able to - if we became a retailer for gas, as well. A gas utility."

De Los Santos also calling for change to Brownsville PUB, saying customers using sustainable energy are getting shortchanged by the utility company.

"If we had a better model for that and we got more homeowners to adopt something of that nature - whether it's wind, whether it's solar, whatever it is - and compensate them to a certain extent, we could be self-sufficient as a city and also have a surplus that could be sold on the open market,” De Los Santos said.

De Los Santos's opponent Jessica Puente Bradshaw has participated in previous forums, but declined to participate.

In District 4, Neece's opponent Pedro Cardenas also declined, making this the third forum he's skipped.


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