AP NEWS

Five vie for two spots on Palm Valley city council

May 1, 2019

The candidates are running for a 2-year term. Lisa L. Taylor and incumbent Paul Powers did not respond to the questionnaire sent out via mail by the Valley Morning Star.

ERIC HOFF

Age: 59

Occupation: Retail Business Owner

Years in Community: 25 years total in RGV (Cameron County) & 1 year in Palm Valley

Community Involvement: Elected La Feria City Commissioner (appointed Mayor Pro-Tem), Sponsor of Stop Soldier Suicide 22 Ruck (2017, 2018 & 2019), numerous Chamber of Commerce memberships, Past San Benito CDBG Board Member, Past Crime Stoppers Board Member, Past CASA Volunteer (Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused children), on-going aluminum can recycling at the Bottle Shop to benefit WWP Veterans ($6,000+ to date), and fundraised over $10,000 in several events for the American Legion Post 439 Veterans

Family: Wife Tina, son Riley (deceased) & daughter Morgan

Question 1:

I understand that Palm Valley has a surplus and tax rates appear to be in line with other local cities.

The Palm Valley community is stunning and home values are high, which is a very good thing for our residents. With elections held every 2 years, it’s important to be able to get to work immediately to guide the City in the direction our residents deserve.

If elected, I will quickly hit the ground running and would like to assist with long-term planning on the future direction of Palm Valley.

Question 2:

As I did in La Feria, I will ask Department Heads to provide a short-term & long-term wish list on equipment and infrastructure needs which will be needed.

Key needs in all cities are streets, public works/waterworks, drainage and Public Safety.

With the already existing excellent relationships which I have with State, County & local Officials, I will see if Palm Valley can partner with projects and if any bond monies are available for needed infrastructure projects/updates.

Question 3:

The only fact I know about golf course ponds is I’ve hit way too many golf balls into them since beginning to golf at the age of 5.

Everything that I’ve heard has been verbal at a City Forum and most recently at a Candidate Forum.

If elected, I pledge to investigate the topic thoroughly, getting legal opinions and expert advice from City Engineers, Irrigation District experts and County Officials.

As with all my decisions, I will speak to both Supporters and Opponents of all projects before coming to a fair independent decision.

Question 4:

Palm Valley is an RGV Gem. Friendliest neighbors, stunning homes and a beautiful Country Club & Golf Course. Every City has its challenges, but I’m confident that I have the necessary experience to assist with City Leadership.

I was an extremely hard-working and active Commissioner in La Feria, always available to talk with anyone and made every decision based not on what I wanted but what was in the best interest of the City.

Question 5:

I have a proven record of City Leadership and Company management. I’ve discovered that the same business skills to run a successful business work well in City management.

Both my wife and I have fallen in love with Palm Valley and that is the only reason that I decided to take this challenge on.

I’ve canvassed every home in Palm Valley and left my personal contact info (cell 956-650-0720 & email emhrgv@yahoo.com) and pledge to be transparent, independent and available to all residents. Thanks for your consideration.

JULIA I NATHAN, MD

Age: No response

Occupation: I have been a practicing Emergency Physician in Harlingen for over 25 years. I currently work at Harlingen Medical Center. I operated the business end of my Physicians Group for 14 years. My experience includes managing contract negotiation, personnel, benefit programs, budgeting, payroll, long term planning, quality improvement and project development. Over the past 25 years I have served as Medical Director of the EMS training program at Texas State Technical College.

Years in Community: I have lived in Harlingen since 1992 and in Palm Valley since 2008

Community involvement: I have taught and mentored Medical Students and Allied Health Professional Students who are now serving our community throughout the Valley. More recently I have been working with Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District on their new EMT Training program for High School Seniors. I have developed and led Antibiotic Stewardship programs trying to reduce our community risk of multidrug resistant infections. I have participated in disaster planning programs and Influenza epidemic planning programs. In Palm Valley I am a volunteer for our Community Emergency Response Team. I have a strong commitment to be available to help our community in the event of a disaster.

Family: I have been married to Joel for 43 years. I could not do what I do without his support and encouragement. We have an adult daughter who is now launching her own career. I am so proud of her. The rest of my family consists of the dogs and cats we have rescued, supported, adopted and occasionally fostered ourselves. Over the years there have been over 33 whose innocent lives we have help to protect. I remember each of them with love, and gratitude to the others who have assisted us.

Question 1

The City of Palm Valley is currently in great financial shape. We have no debt. We do have high taxes considering the services our City provides. Recent property tax increases and several increases in other taxes and fees have grown City revenues.

Even before these increases were instituted, our revenue exceeded our basic operating costs and we had a surplus. Our current administration has made no significant capital improvements in four years.

It has not been able to produce an organized long term plan that prioritizes spending and establishes time frames for our infrastructure needs.

There is some money to work on much needed capital projects. But we are an older city with an aging infrastructure. The next step is a careful look at all the needs facing the city.

We must develop a long term plan that allocates something to each of our needs and budgets spending out over time. Property tax increases are a double edged sword. Unfortunately, assessments and other taxing entities are also increasing their demands, straining citizen budgets.

We really need to take care of our citizens on fixed income and younger families for whom steady tax increases will have a negative impact.

Question 2

As a small City our obligations are simple. Our services include water management, roads, utilities, and protection of our citizen’s security and property values.

This includes capital maintenance for the police force and maintaining a working storm water and erosion protection plan.

On an everyday basis, Palm Valley needs to provide clean drinking water and manage our waste and flood water drainage system. We need a defined day to day maintenance plan for our roads and community areas.

For larger projects we need an annual project budget. In the long term the City must also begin restoring our aging infrastructure including the roads, sewers, and our waste water drainage system.

The approach in the past 4 years have been to focus on beautification projects such as new signage and landscaping. No serious attention has been given to any of our aging infrastructure, but now the city is suddenly planning to spend all its reserves on a single, poorly conceptualized project.

We do need to address our obligations towards our waste water drainage system.

But before spending our taxpayer’s money we need to offer them a cohesive infrastructure management plan that is supported by evidence and spends our limited resources wisely.

Question 3

The Harlingen Country Club and City of Palm Valley have shared a legal partnership with regard to our waste water management since the City was formed. The concept makes perfect sense.

The Club needs water hazards and irrigation water and the City needs to drain its waste water effluent in a manner compliant with State and Federal regulations.

The ponds are owned by the Club and the City has some maintenance easements. The proposed dredging project, as it is currently planned, is poorly conceptualized, expensive and inefficient.

We can do better. As we approach the question of water management and our mutual obligations we need to hear from each stakeholder and create a well-defined plan with HCC for a long term maintenance program that addresses the needs of our effluent drainage and storm water protection plan on an ongoing basis so this never becomes a crisis again.

The project needs to fit into the City budget and be spread out over time so we can meet our obligations to our partners, our regulatory agencies, and to our other infrastructure needs without placing undue stress on our relationship with HCC or our budget.

Question 4

The City must comply with the laws and regulations applicable to General Law Cities while providing an accessible, transparent government.

We need to re-institute recommended Citizen Advisory Committees and hold frequent citizen engagement workshops about issues facing the City, where people can offer ideas and air concerns.

We should clarify our permit process and apply it consistently. Good stewardship includes careful planning, expert advice on special projects, emergency preparedness, clear, proactive communications, and conservative spending policies.

Our wealthier citizens may not feel the impact of tax increases and ever higher fees, but those on fixed incomes certainly do.

Question 5

I am well qualified to help lead our City both professionally and personally. I am running because we need well organized, thoughtful city management.

I am committed to a high standard of integrity and good stewardship. I will attend City Council meetings prepared.

Before I make decisions I will pay attention to detail, solicit expert opinion and listen to your concerns.

Over many years of direct patient care and group leadership I have learned how to listen, how to work with diverse partners to build consensus and find ways to go forward without sacrificing my individual principles.

GABRIELLA NADINE McDOWELL

Age: 49

Occupation: Member of the leadership team at a major telecommunications company

Years in community: 3 years

Community Involvement: Police Officer in the City of Palm Valley for nearly three years

Family: Mother of three adult children and grandmother to one grandchild

1. The current financial situation for the city is great but only with diligent stewardship will this city stay on track.

The tax rate is at $.52 per hundred which is almost as much as surrounding communities but without the services those communities provide.

However, I feel the current administration is rushing headlong into a project that could negatively impact the financial future of Palm Valley for years to come.

2. Infrastructure needs of the city are formidable and include service and repair to pipes and roads that are 50 years old and a water pressure issue.

Beside a temporary solution to road repair and the water pressure issue no true long-term plans have been put in place to ensure continued workability as the city continues to age.

Plans must be thought of in the long term and be expansive and not short sighted. The leadership in the community must be inclusive, collaborative, and connected.

City leaders must be able to mobilize the knowledge, talents, and perspectives of every segment of the community.

3. The plan presented for pond drainage is a reworked plan that has been presented by only one specific engineering company.

This plan has been presented more than once and has been rejected by previous mayors and city councils. It has failed to prove once again that it will make a difference in flood control.

While there is no argument that the city must fulfill its public works obligations, I feel this plan is a beautification plan disguised as a public works project.

4. An issue that faces Palm Valley is the lack of connection with community stakeholders. There is no community committee made up of government, business, and individuals in the community.

This group should meet frequently in order to ensure plans are being followed and, if needed, modifications be made. It should ensure that all are represented because only through unity will Palm Valley thrive.

5. Voters should choose me in this election because I come to this community with a spirit of service above self and a desire to be part of something larger than myself.

I believe in the importance of not only listening to all citizens but finding answers for them in a timely manner. I believe in transparency, communication, and citizen involvement.