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Final Prop 1 forum held by McAllen rotary

November 5, 2016 GMT

McALLEN — The final forum for Proposition 1 happened amongst a close group of friends at the McAllen Country Club on Friday.

About 100 members of the McAllen South Rotary Club met to hear Hidalgo County Commissioner Eddie Cantu and Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia discuss the issue once more as early voting came to a close.

Both have spoken at numerous events for and against the creation of a healthcare district — a contentious race on the November ballot.

“ I never thought I’d be in this position,” Cantu told the audience during his opening remarks.

The county leader wasn’t expecting to become the face of the opposition, but his own research and willingness to question the issue propelled him into the spotlight.

Friday’s event began with a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and a reciting of the club’s values, otherwise called the Four-Way Test, which asks the following: Is it the truth; is it fair to all concerned; Will it build goodwill and better friendships; Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

One member suggested these were questions that should be asked when speaking about Prop. 1.

Garcia said he supported the issue because he truly believes it will help the community and be a catalyst for region’s economic engine.

“ I’m not a doctor. … I don’t own any stock in the hospital,” he said.

Nine-hundred babies are born at one local hospital each month, and they’re going to need jobs, he added. The district can help create those positions by drawing down research dollars, pharmaceutical interest and ancillary services.

“ Taxes,” he said. “I hate taxes as much as you do.”

Cantu said he doesn’t oppose the district because of the tax, which he said is the one issue proponents have used to vilify him.

“ I voted for school bonds at PSJA,” he said about the school district. But every time anyone asked for an increase in revenue, they had to show justification through a plan of action.

“ It’s a very simple concept,” he said. “Where were the proponents? … Where was DHR, which was pushing this?”

Both civic leaders answered many of the same questions that have been posed in previous debates, but the tone of the meeting was very different than that of previous often heated events.

Those in the audience seemed to know each other well and shared a camaraderie that may have impacted the event.