There' s no reason why Edinburg can't be the premier destination in the Valley, according to local banker Elias Longoria Jr., who is emphasizing his experience and volunteerism in the community throughout his campaign for Place 4 on the City Council.
Extensive knowledge in financial matters, a family with deep roots in Edinburg, and the support of longtime allies dating back to his father's time in public service are driving his bid for the spot on the Council, which will be vacated by current council member Alma Garza, who has confirmed she will not be seeking reelection.
"My experience and my volunteerism are key," Longoria said. "What I have done over the last 25 years as a local banker have given me the financial background to hit the ground running in City Council…I have been wanting to do it for a long time."
Longoria served for seven years as a member and eventually president of the board of the Edinburg Boys and Girls Club. He also sits on the board for the Food Bank-RGV, which he has done for the last nine years. He is also currently a member of Edinburg Rotary.
Priorities for Longoria include establishing a motorcycle unit in the police force, and being an advocate for new substations for the fire department. Longoria said he would also like to look at the old library on Cano Street and turn it into an annex, and "do everything we can" to work in unison with UTPA, Hidalgo County, and ECISD to strengthen the city, he said.
"All of these things have guided me to the point where I think I am mature enough to be able to take this next step," Longoria said. "We're there to do a job, and that job is to make Edinburg succeed. It's to keep Edinburg growing."
From his position as president of Lone Star Bank in Edinburg, and more than 25 years in banking, Longoria says he looks forward to offering his financial acumen to the budget.
"To read a financial statement, to read a budget and look at tax returns and related financial information, I can review and look at and be extremely comfortable with that," he said. "The city does a good job, there's nothing to say that I have to come in and make wholesale changes to. I will be looking on, and offering my expertise and suggestions but it's not a broken wheel. We just have to make sure that we put grease on it and it keeps working. I'm excited about it. There are a lot of challenges, but I think I'm up to the task."
Longoria says his campaign is being driven by a support base that dates back to his father. Longoria Sr. served as a member of the ECISD school board for nearly a decade, and is credited as the board's first Hispanic president. Last year School Board trustees voted to have one its newest middle schools be named in Longoria Sr.'s honor.
"If you look at the audience, you're talking about a mature base of people that have been here in the community since day one, since my father was here," Longoria said. "There are a lot of people that can feel like there is a candidate they can get behind. Our voter base is going to be an older crowd, a more mature crowd, and those people can tell their kids that there is someone they can get behind."
"They (supporters) have all come out," Longoria said. "I have received so many phone calls of support. It's amazing. It brings back a lot of memories. These are the people that are coming back and saying 'we want you to win, we think you'll do a good job.'"
"Anything that affects children is really important to me. If I can take this next step, that means that I'm doing it for all the right reasons," he said. "I'm not doing it for any notoriety, I don't want want anything out of it, other than to make sure things are done correctly and in a non-partisan manner."