Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa has said his tenure has been highlighted by serving an area blessed with continued growth as he concludes a nearly two-decade run in the city’s top spot.
Ochoa confirmed on Saturday Jan 31 at the Social Club in Edinburg that he will not be seeking his sixth mayoral term.
In an exclusive interview with the Edinburg Review, Ochoa offered a comparison between the city and raising his children, which he did almost concurrently when he began his tenure in 1993.
“We did our best to get them to this point and we feel real good where we are, and you got to do what you got to do,” Ochoa said comparing his job as mayor and parent. “I think it’s one of those situations when you raise your children to get to that moment when you say ‘I think I’ve brought them to this point’.
“The City of Edinburg is doing great financially, has a great master plan for the future and great development that I think will continue to do so,” he said.
Ochoa, who has served as mayor for 13 percent of Edinburg’s 100-year history, said he plans “other business ventures” at the reception held in his honor. Guests included councilmember Gus Garcia, attorney and former County Judge Ramon Garcia, and Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen.
Ochoa’s decision not to seek a sixth term as mayor appears to leave the way clear for Edinburg Economic Development Corporation President Richard Garcia to reclaim the mayoral position. As of early Monday, no one has officially announced they would run against Garcia for Edinburg’s sole election in May.
Garcia was mayor for three years earlier this decade. He defeated Ochoa in 2003 but was defeated by Ochoa in 2006. He announced his mayoral campaign on Jan. 8.
“I’m just hoping that the growth and the leadership will continue,” Ochoa told the Review about Garcia’s renewed bid for mayor. “I hope that the infrastructure of this community continues, which has brought us so much prosperity to the city along with new highways, being able to attract new businesses to the community.”
Ochoa, a pharmacist and small business owner, has served as mayor for 13 percent of Edinburg’s 100-year history. Before becoming mayor he served three three-year terms on the Edinburg CISD board of trustees throughout the 1980s
Ochoa first took office in 1993 and has served two two-year terms, and three three-year terms.
Twice during Ochoa’s administration, Edinburg has been nominated and assessed as an “All-America City.” Edinburg is the only city in Texas to be named “All-America City on three occasions.
Ochoa pointed out how the city looked when he first took office and how it looks now. In 1993, assessed tax valuations stood at $500 million. Today, the figure is $3 billion. In 1993, unemployment stood at 20 percent. Today it is the lowest in the Rio Grande Valley, at five percent, Ochoa said.
Ochoa listed some of the major transportation achievements during his time as mayor, including the Expressway 281 bypass, the underpasses at Canton Road and Trenton Road, the overpass from Pharr to Edinburg and the expansion of McColl, Sugar and Trenton roads. Additionally, Trenton became the first road in the Valley to feature a bike lane.
In the world of education, Ochoa lobbied for and succeeded in getting the Regional Academic Health Center’s research division located at The University of Texas-Pan American. He also helped bring the cooperative UT Pharmacy School to UTPA.
“Edinburg is in a great financial position,” Ochoa said. “We are blessed that this community, and this whole area isn’t in the financial condition that the rest of the United States is in, and I think we need to take advantage of opportunities where we continue the low unemployment and increase the people wanting to live here
“We are proud of what the city has accomplished,” Ochoa said.
Ochoa is a self-employed retail pharmacist and owner of two community pharmacies and other business ventures. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science Degree in pharmacy with certification in immunization, diabetes care, and nutrition.
Ochoa is a past president and member of Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, a co-chairman of I-69 Alliance-Highway 281, and a past chairman and present member of Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Ochoa bucked the political establishment in the Rio Grande Valley early last year by endorsing Barack Obama for president in the Democratic Party primary. Almost every elected official in the Valley at the time had endorsed Hillary Clinton.