Longtime Mission mayor hopes successor ‘stays honest’

In eight days, Norberto “Beto” Salinas will no longer answer to the title of mayor — the first time since he was first elected to that position 20 years ago.

In the wake of his stunning loss in Saturday’s runoff elections, Salinas said he will remain in tune with what happens within the city and hopes the incoming mayor does right by Mission.

City council member Armando O’Caña defeated the longtime mayor Saturday with 3,468 votes to Salinas’ 3,316 votes.

Salinas said he had a lot of respect for O’Caña who’s served on the city council for 10 years.

“He’s a good guy,” Salinas said. “He needs to do the right things, he needs to understand that this is a community that has a good reputation, that we have a good fund balance, we have lowered our taxes by 16 cents from 64 to 48 cents, and this can get better if he can only do what’s right.”

Property taxes in Mission were at 0.64 cents when he first took office in 1998 and were lowered to 0.48 cents for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

“Armando’s a nice guy,” Salinas reiterated. “I don’t know how much this election turned him. I hope he stays honest, the way I’ve always known him to be and he does things right.”

Among his concerns is the future of ongoing projects, such as construction of the Madero Bridge.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to that project, but people are concerned about it,” Salinas said of the project, which he said required a lot of attention on a daily basis. “I’m not going to say it’s not my problem anymore because it is a problem for every citizen of Mission because we need to save that project.”

He also said he hoped the results of the elections didn’t set off a wave of terminations within the city, which can be a concern when there’s a significant shift in leadership.

“If I could take care of the city for 20 years, I expect them to do the same and do it right without causing any problems,” Salinas said.

Despite those lingering concerns, though, he said he’s not deeply disappointed by his loss because of how long he served.

“I’m not a sore loser,” he said. “Matter of fact, I think I’m happy things came out the way they did, because 20 years is a long time.

“This was supposed to be my year where I was going to do something else, but again; you know, you listen to your constituents and they talk to you … and all of a sudden they’ve got you convinced that you have to run for one more term.”

But as long as his tenure as Mission mayor has been, his total time in public office is even longer as he was a county commissioner for 12 years and on the Texas Civil Service Commission for six before becoming mayor.

When asked if he’d run for public office again, he joked he might run for a place on the board of the Mission Chamber of Commerce.

“Can you imagine me running and losing that one also?” he said.

“No, no everything’s fine; I don’t think I’m going to run for anything else unless there’s something there that’s attractive,” he said, “but I don’t think so.”

He said he has plenty to occupy him with his large ranch and his company, S&F Developers.

“I enjoyed being in office for 20 years,” he said. “Sometimes I got a little depressed because it’s too long, I was spending too much time, but at the end, I was very happy serving the citizens of Mission.”