Weslaco mayor seeks to continue city’s upward trajectory in annual address

Weslaco Mayor Davis Suarez greets attendees after he gave Weslaco's State of the Union at Knapp Medical Center on Wednesday day, Mar. 4, 2020, in Weslaco. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

WESLACO — From baby steps to taking flight, Weslaco has come remarkably far in the six years since David Suarez was first elected mayor of the “city on the grow.”

And that slogan has perhaps never been more true than now, when economic and residential growth is booming, numerous infrastructure projects are in progress or in planning, and the city’s finances are in the best shape they’ve been.

It’s a time to celebrate, Suarez said, but not to become complacent. There’s more work yet to be done, he said, addressing the dozens of people who had gathered at the Knapp Medical Conference Center on Wednesday for the mayor’s annual state of the city address.

“Weslaco has accomplished much, but things are not perfect,” Suarez said. “Yes we can — and we should — pause to celebrate all we have accomplished but, we must not sit back and admire what we have done; rather, we should continue to challenge ourselves and one another to accelerate the pace of change and continue to work on all that will make our great city even better,” he said.

Suarez became mayor in 2013, inheriting the then-nascent problems plaguing the Weslaco water plant — problems which have since morphed into federal bribery charges against former city leaders, and a pair of civil lawsuits against several construction companies in an effort to recoup some of the monies lost in the project.

Not long after, Weslaco suffered catastrophic floods in 2015, 2018 and 2019 that exposed critical weaknesses in the city’s drainage infrastructure.

Since then, however, city leaders have invested in infrastructure improvements, in increasing financial and administrative transparency, and in fostering economic growth. Those efforts have yielded dividends. “My first state of the city address… we said we needed to take baby steps,” Suarez said after his address. “But we’re already flying. We’re taking off flying, that’s how far we’ve come.”

For District 5 Commissioner Letty Lopez, the city’s outlook after several years of hardships is “very promising.”

“It’s like seeing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow… Everything that is happening here in Weslaco is on a positive note, and I’m excited to see what’s just around the corner,” Lopez said.

District 3 Commissioner Jose “J.P.” Rodriguez described the city’s forward progress as a lesson in humility — one that serves as a reminder of an elected official’s purpose. “Serving in this capacity as an elected official, it’s never meant to be self-serving. It’s supposed to elevate and help the people around us so we can grow together,” Rodriguez said.

He credited the city’s rise to an “extraordinary effort by all the stakeholders, by all the residents, by elected officials, by the business community.”

City Manager Mike Perez agreed, saying good leadership, combined with an abundance of civic-minded residents, has led to the city’s shining outlook. “We have a lot of great volunteers that are always helping, like the drainage committee,” Perez said, highlighting the hundreds of hours the committee put into creating the city’s drainage master plan.

Together, the city has forged a sense of stability that will allow it to “weather these storms and reduce the impact of these interesting times,” Suarez said during his speech.

“I’m excited,” he said afterward.