Municipal attorney award recognizes professional and community contributions
After a career of serving the municipal public, as both a public employee and an elected official, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling has received a highly-prestigious and well-deserved recognition. The International Municipal Lawyers Association has awarded Mayor Darling with the Charles S. Rhyne Lifetime Achievement in Municipal Law Award for “lifetime achievements in the field of municipal law…,” highlighting the McAllen mayor’s impressive resume of serving his fellow citizens.
Mayor Darling began his municipal career as the McAllen City Attorney for 28 years, after first serving his country in the Vietnam War, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, as a U.S. Air Force Sergeant and later in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He earned his B.A. and J.D. from Baylor University and has served pro bono as general counsel to McAllen Affordable Homes, while also serving on the Board of Directors for the Hidalgo County Bar Association, from whom he received the John E. Cook Award in recognition of providing vast pro bono hours. He received the Henry B. Gonzales Award from the National Housing Council, the Hope Award for his gracious contributions to Catholic Charities; the Medallion Award from the National Boys & Girls Club, after having served as the board the local organization for nearly two decades and as its president for two terms. Other accolades Mayor Darling has earned include Man of the Year by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and his work as president of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Council of Governments, among countless other community organizations.
Mayor Darling has dedicated his entire professional career to improving the quality of life for residents in not only his beloved adopted home town of Mcallen, but also, the entire Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
“Mayor Darling is well-known, well-liked and well respected in the Texas legal community. He has worked on everything from regional water issues, to community policing challenges, to economic development and every city issue in between…with passion, innovation and hands-on commitment…” wrote Paige Mims, City Attorney for the City of Plano and IMLA Regional Vice-President in her nomination letter. She cited his recent letter to President Donald Trump on the true dynamic nature of life on the border as an example of how he serves as a leader for his community, serving also at one time as a McAllen City Commissioner.
It is his unique understanding of economic, cultural and other ties across municipalities, regions and even borders that McAllen City Attorney Kevin Pagan cites as the key factor that has catapulted Mayor Darling to the forefront of many local, state and national and even, international issues. Gerry Lederer, an attorney with the law firm, Best Best and Kreieger, who works on the City’s telecommunications issues, writes that throughout his career, Mayor Darling views “things not as challenges, but as opportunities, which have helped to serve the community and by extension the nation, even better.”
Mayor Darling received the recognition of the award ceremony for the IMLA annual conference and in true fashion, was ever humble and gracious in accepting the award.
Charles S. Rhyne, IMLA's first Executive Director, combined a career in litigation with a life of public service as a leader in America and in the world. For IMLA members and local government lawyers, Charles Rhyne will be remembered as the pivotal force in the success of IMLA (formerly the National Institute of Municipal Law Officers). The idea of national cooperation between municipalities on legal matters was discussed, and shortly after, NIMLO was born. Rhyne and NIMLO went on to file numerous amicus briefs on topics from antitrust to zoning -- labor relations, federal tax liens, rent control, employment, natural gas rates, criminal law, Indian rights under federal law, energy law, aviation, annexations, and others.
Charles Rhyne received numerous awards, including twice was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Those nominated to the Charles S. Rhyne Lifetime Achievement in Municipal Law Award should exemplify the spirit and tenacity of the award’s namesake.
“It is truly an honor to have such a servant-leader as the Mayor of McAllen, one who puts the welfare of all the citizens at the top of his list,” said McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez, P.E. “It makes all of our jobs much easier, except when he decides to repel into his State of the City address.”