Incumbents earn nods to serve on Palm Valley council

PALM VALLEY — A pair of incumbents earned re-election Saturday taking the top and third spots out of a total of six candidates.

A total of 231 of more than 1,000 registered voters turned out Saturday in the city, according to city secretary Sylvia Trevino.

Those who came to the polls were able to choose three candidates out of a pool of six to serve as members of the city council.

Debe Wright will return to the council for another 2-year term after garnering the most votes with 146.

Fellow incumbent John Widger had the third most with 121, narrowly defeating Quentin Keyes, who had 119.

Widger will serve another term and said he will continue working to ensure the city remains fiscally responsible and stable.

Cynthia Thompson collected the second-highest number of votes with 142 and will take Cissie Nesmith’s position. Nesmith decided not to run for re-election.

Wright is a Harlingen native, whose family has lived in Palm Valley since 1975. This will be her third term on the council.

She currently works for Frost Bank. She has a master’s in business administration and has worked in the banking industry since 1984.

In her bio on the Palm Valley website, Wright states it is imperative the city works to “encourage new families to relocate to Palm Valley by offering a lifestyle that is not available anywhere else in the Valley.”

She said yesterday the city’s quality staff are key to the success of Palm Valley. She called the city secretary and police chief great and the city is “fortunate to have them and their knowledge to provide leadership and guidance.”

She also talked about the important issues facing the city — infrastructure and the importance of Harlingen Country Club.

An aging infrastructure, including issues with roads and drainage were issues she mentioned she would like to continue.

However, she admitted she had no answers as to dealing with the future of the Country Club.

There have been concerns for quite some time about long term decreases in membership and financial struggles at the golf club.

“It will take us all working together, a unified effort and ideas,” she said.

The club and golf course are the largest revenue generator in the city.

“It’s not our job to run it, but the people in the city need to be supportive,” she said. “We don’t want that to fail.”

While she doesn’t have answers, she believes others in the community might and working together will be imperative moving forward on all topics.

“That is the key — getting to work together instead of working against each other,” she said.

Widger, a Michigan native, has been in the area since 2007 and agreed on several topics with the lifelong area resident, Wright.

Widger is retired, but formerly a computer systems analyst with a master’s degree in business administration.

Widger said yesterday he ran again to serve the council to continue working on ensuring the city’s fiscal responsibility as well as working on its infrastructure.

“I think at least we have our budget in a better position and we are engaged in better spending practices,” Widger said.

He also said the city has more funding for capital projects because of the recent fiscal responsibility. But, he also admitted there are some challenges in the future, specifically infrastructure such as drainage issues to deal with.

“We need to come up with answers to that,” he said. “Throwing money at the problem won’t fix it. We need to find a viable solution.”

He also talked about the health of Harlingen Country Club, being the largest business in the city, generating the most sales tax.

“I feel there are limited things we can do to help,” Widger said. “What we can do is provide a clean, safe city for them to operate in. I am open to partnering with them by using them as a vendor for our events. Those are the areas that meet the legal requirements of a city helping a private entity.”

Efforts to reach Thompson were unsuccessful yesterday.

A total of six people, including Wright, Thompson, Widger, Keyes, Charlie Ramsay and Paul Powers vied for the three seats. Ramsay received 73 votes and Powers received 22.