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Candidates make their case; Three in race for District 2 seat

May 2, 2019

District 2 residents on Saturday will vote on whether to elect one Brownsville’s former mayor or a former school board member who are challenging an incumbent who won election eight years ago as a write-in candidate.

Incumbent City Commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa is facing off with former mayor Pat Ahumada and former Brownsville Independent School District board member Catalina “Caty” Presas-Garcia.

Tetreau-Kalifa said she believes voters should choose her for another four years on the job, arguing that District 2 has become the most successful part of town under her watch.

“So, over the last eight years, District 2 has become the most successful part of town from our industrial, from our aerospace activity on Boca Chica Beach to our brand new airport (terminal), and especially the millions and millions of dollars that I have allocated for drainage and resurfacing of streets,” Tetreau-Kalifa said.

She also cited park renovation and a graffiti abatement program as examples of other accomplishments during her tenure.

Tetreau-Kalifa said she was born and raised in District 2 and only has its residents’ interests in mind while serving on the City Commission.

“I’ve never run for any other office other than District 2 because I’m not a person that just wants to be an official in any capacity,” Tetreau-Kalifa said.

Ahumada, the former mayor, said he believes Tetreau-Kalifa hasn’t been accessible to her constituents and said Presas-Garcia would be more of the same.

“I stand for serving the community and giving them myself, my time, my experience and being accessible compared to my opponents it’s just the opposite. I don’t represent special interests. I represent everybody. It’s not based on Facebook socializing.”

Ahumada, who vowed to find consensus on the City Commission to prioritize needs, said Brownsville has a public safety shortage and that the permit department needs to be more efficient.

“Some permits take six months to a year and that’s really unacceptable,” Ahumada said.

The former mayor also said he hears consistent complaints about potholes and streets in need of repair, adding that he believes the budget for these issues is too small.

“I’m a humble person and hopefully people remember I was always accessible as mayor. I returned their calls. My door was always open,” Ahumada said.

Presas-Garcia said District 2 is in need of change.

“I’m a business person. I come from the perspective of a business individual so as for the experience that I hold, and I have a background in the experience, not just because I was formally with city,” Presas-Garcia said, explaining she used to work with public works and the police department. “So I go back seeing that we are still in the same situation that we were 30 years ago when I worked there. It hasn’t changed much. We seem to be stagnant.”

Presas-Garcia said the city needs to embrace new businesses, growth and leverage economic development to create jobs while bringing in additional tax revenue.

“The infrastructure, as a realtor, I’ve seen that as a realtor, our streets have deteriorated, not just in one area,” Presas-Garcia said. “The entire city has issues with streets in dire need of repair.”

The former school board member also said the city is lacking employment opportunities to keep families in Brownsville.

“We haven’t created the jobs we’ve needed to get people on their feet and be able to provide for their family,” she said. “We have a lot of families that need to leave town because we are not offering anything here.”

Presas-Garcia said the as a City Commissioner she would work united with other entities to help Brownsville become a strong city with good economic development and solid infrastructure.

“I have no personal agendas other than to work for the citizens and better Brownsville,” she said. “Those are my agendas.”

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com