Race for Harlingen District 5 Commissioner seat draws two opponents

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The race for the city of Harlingen District 5 commissioner’s seat has two contenders: incumbent Victor Leal and school teacher Rene Perez.

Each candidate said they’re running for different reasons.

"I served my country in Iraq in the army, I serve my students in the classroom and I thought that it would be a good idea," Perez said. 

Leal has been a commissioner since 2012.

"We have to make this a priority to make sure we have number one: jobs.” Leal said. “Number two: the ability to educate those people for those jobs."

They have different ideas on drainage - Leal believes the city is on the right track. 

"We have spent about $20 million dollars in the last 10 years on drainage, Leal said. “Currently we've spent about $8.5 million since the 2019 flood. We received a grant to study all of the in-flows into the Arroyo Colorado until it flows out until the gulf."

Perez saying flooding is still not a big enough priority.

"They're more interested in building parks, destinations, hotels, and convention centers, instead of providing things that the community needs like more retail places, more restaurants,” Perez said.

Perez said he and civil engineers from CASA Engineering have worked out a plan that would increase Harlingen's ability to hold flood water, and cost residents very little in taxes. 

"The average homeowner would end up paying an extra $200 on their home than have to pay than pay the $15,000 or $20,000s that they're going to have to pay when they have flood damage in their home,” Perez said.

Perez and Leal both agreed that the Valley has a brain drain problem. Perez said he wants to encourage businesses to come here and create jobs. 

"We lose a lot of our young talent to places like McAllen and outside of the Valley because we really have nothing to offer here in Harlingen,” Perez said.

Leal says he created partnerships with The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and other local schools to encourage kids to get an education. 

"Our two largest employers are medical, and education,” Leal said. “Over the last five years we've done a lot of reaching out and partnering with those two industries."


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