Voter guide: Cameron County Judge candidates, part 2

Cameron County voters will decide on the county’s top administrator between incumbent County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., and former Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos, who preceded Treviño as Cameron County Judge.

The Valley Morning Star contacted both candidates ahead of the Nov. 6 general election with a series of questions. Below is part two of their responses. Part one ran on Tuesday, Oct. 30, and can be found online at www.valleymorningstar.com.

Question: The issue of border safety and a potential border wall dominates the headlines. How will you work with state and federal officials to ensure and enhance safety along the border?

Treviño: I would disagree with the premise of your question that assumes our border is not safe. I believe Cameron County is safe but there is always more we can do. One of the first things I did after taking office was to testify in front of Congress on the border wall, immigration and border security issues. We need to continue to invest in our infrastructure along the border. Walls are not the answer. I have spoken to many federal officials, including border patrol and customs agents, and they all agree that state-of-the-art technology, additional federal agents and improved infrastructure at our ports of entry is the answer. The border wall would do nothing to stop the flow of people coming to the United States. Comprehensive immigration reform should be a priority for both political parties.

Cascos: A border wall is not a one size fits all. I would work to enhance our levee system, building a weir (dam) upstream. I would encourage south-bound surveillance by using trained K-9 units at our land ports of entry, trained to detect cash & weapons. In addition, I would support the use of drone technology to assist our border patrol agents.

Question: What can Cameron County do to better assist the many Veterans that live in our region?

Treviño: My priority has and always will be our veteran population. Our brothers and sisters, those who have answered the call of duty and in many instances paid the ultimate sacrifice, deserve our respect and honor. Working with our commissioners’ court, we have provided veteran benefits and protected their educational benefits. During the last state legislative session, Cameron County, led by the energy of Commissioner Gus Ruiz, lobbied to protect veterans’ education rights under the Hazelwood Act, despite calls to eliminate these earned and important education benefits for veterans. We also recently received a $300,000.00 grant from the Texas Veterans Commission to hire additional Veteran Service Officers to help and to assist our veterans in seeking employment and continuing their education.

Cascos: I have supported the exemption of property taxes for all veterans’ homesteads. I will continue to advocate for that in the upcoming legislative session. I will continue reaching out to our veterans to seek input from them as to how we can best serve their healthcare needs.

Question: Do you have any other priorities our reader should know about?

Treviño: My goal as a public official is to bring communities together. We cannot do it alone and we must work together to improve our county. We need to merge the RGV MPO’s in a fair and equitable manner; we need to protect our most valued natural resource, which are our coastal beaches; we want the second causeway project to move forward; we need to help the Port of Brownsville and our other ports along with our Cities in their economic development efforts; and we need to tell the story of all our cities in Cameron County and the Rio Grande Valley. As the incoming Chair for the Texas Border Infrastructure Coalition (TBIC), I know that I have and will continue to work with our local, state and federal elected officials and community leaders to bring prosperity for our county and region.

Cascos: I would think the most important infrastructure project today is an additional causeway to South Padre Island for the obvious reasons: traffic flow & evacuations. I will work to get this project going once again. As a former county judge & secretary of state, I have developed strong relationships with not only Governor Abbott, who has endorsed me in this race, but with many appointed officials that can help our area, such as Texas Dept. of Transportation, Texas Dept. of Health & Human Services, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Workforce Commission and Texas Dept. of Housing & Community Affairs, to name a few. Those relationships are important to our county, and the relationship I have with those directors and commissioners will benefit our county.

Question: Why should Cameron County residents vote for you and what message do you have for undecided voters?

Treviño: I believe I’ve proven during my time previously as mayor and now as county judge that I have the leadership qualities needed and necessary to work with everyone to get things done. In order to accomplish projects, a leader not only has to lead but must be willing and able to listen and work with others to achieve great things, both large and small for the people we serve. I know the future is bright for Cameron County, and we need a leader who’s engaged and committed to improve all aspects of life for Cameron County and its residents. I humbly ask for your vote, support and prayers to allow me to continue to serve you as your Cameron County Judge.

Cascos: I’m a proven leader that gets things done: County Commissioner, County Judge, Sec. of State & several statewide appointments. I have served not only Cameron County but the State of Texas, as well. Two governors have called upon me to serve in various capacities: Department of Public Safety Commissioner, Chairman of the Border Security Council, Vice Chair of the Panama Canal Work Group, Vice Chair of the Transportation Work Group, member of a state committee to study evacuations & logistics along our coastal area, to name a few. My resume speaks for itself.

Incumbent Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., has served in that position since November 2016. He was previously a city commissioner in Brownsville from 2001 to 2003 and mayor of Brownsville from 2003 to 2007. Treviño has been practicing law since 1989.

Challenger Carlos Cascos served as the 110th Texas Secretary of State from 2015 to 2017. Prior to that, he was Cameron County Judge from 2006 to 2015. Cascos also served as the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Commission from 2004 to 2006 and was a Cameron County Commissioner from 1991 to 2002. Cascos is a certified public accountant and a certified government financial manager.

MORE INFO

For the complete list of questions and candidate responses, visit

www.valleymorningstar.com