A snapshot of District 1 candidates
Voters will soon have their say in an election where three candidates are challenging an incumbent who has held the District 1 seat since 2003.
Michael Rodriguez, William A. Garza and Nurith P. Galonsky are spending the last days leading up to the May 4 municipal election trying to convince voters to choose one of them over City Commissioner Ricardo Longoria Jr., who is asking voters to re-elect him, promising a clear vision of where the community is heading as a city and a district.
Garza said his experience as a former city commissioner means he can hit the ground running, saying he chose to run because many people in District 1 asked him to seek office.
"When I was commissioner I gave them attention. I answered their calls," Garza said. "I listened to their concerns."
According to Garza, District 1 doesn’t not receive the attention that it should from the city and has infrastructure problems, including pot holes. He said Southmost for years has needed work on speed bumps and traffic lights and said the permitting process for businesses in the district needs improvement.
"I’ve heard their cries," Garza said.
If elected, he said he wants to open an office in District 1 to make him more accessible to constituents.
"I plan to open up a city office in District 1, probably on Southmost Road to better serve the residents of that community with their issues, their concerns," Garza said. "Many times they don’t know where to go."
Like Garza, Galonsky believes that District 1′s most basic needs have gone ignored by the city for too long.
"In November 2018, I decided to run for City Commissioner because District 1 has been stagnant for a long time and change is necessary if we are every going to escape that rut," Galonsky said in a statement. "While residents of District 1 live along streets marred by potholes, their bulk trash sitting out for months because of irregular pickup and surrounded by countless stray dogs and cats, other parts of Brownsville are clean, well-lit, thriving and flourishing with brand new construction and amenities such as sidewalks and trails."
Galonsky says her background as a lawyer and her experience on the Brownsville Public Utilities Board, the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation and sitting on the City Manager Search Committee have given her a first-hand view of how local government operates.
"If elected, I promise to make myself available to all constituents, listen to their needs and wants, and advocate for them to the best of my ability," she said. "I will be transparent in everything I do and why I am doing it. Most importantly, I will uphold basic tenets of ethics and insist on civil discourse."
Neither Rodriguez nor Longoria were available by deadline, but the two have been active on social media, posting photos of campaign supporters and asking people to vote early.
In online videos, Rodriguez has said that District 1 needs another fire station.
"We’re the most populated district," Rodriguez has said, explaining that other districts all have more than one fire station.
Rodriguez said he operates two businesses, is educated, is raising a family in District 1 and wants to help other families in the district by bringing the necessary attention to District 1, arguing the lack of another fire station there puts people at risk.
"I’m not a politician," Rodriguez said in a video. "You know what I am? I’m fed up."
Like Rodriguez, Longoria has posted online videos seeking re-election.
In one, Longoria, who says he is a product of District 1, said he has fixed sidewalks, improved drainage and brought educational opportunities to District 1.
"There’s still a lot of work to be done, but with your help and support we can build a better Brownsville and a better future for our children," he said. "When people say it can’t be done, I say look around, look around you and look at how much we’ve grown. I want Brownsville to be a place where my children are going to want to raise their children, and be able to put family, community and God first."
Longoria says the residents of District 1 are his priority and will continue to be if he wins re-election.
As of Saturday, 5,300 people have cast early votes. Early voting continues Monday and Tuesday.