Cascos, Treviño both bring experience to Cameron County judge race - Brownsville Herald: Local News

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Cascos, Treviño both bring experience to Cameron County judge race

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, November 3, 2018 10:21 pm

The race for Cameron County judge will come to a head on Election Day Tuesday as the former judge faces the incumbent who replaced him.

Republican Carlos H. Cascos was first elected county judge in 2006 and left the post when appointed Texas Secretary of State in 2015 by Gov. Greg Abbott. A career certified public accountant in Brownsville, he was elected a county commissioner three times during the 90s.

Democrat incumbent Eddie Treviño, Jr. was elected county judge in 2016. The Brownsville attorney served as the city’s mayor for four years starting in 2003 and was a city commissioner for two years prior.

CARLOS CASCOS

Cascos said he didn’t have public office on his mind after wrapping up his term as Texas Secretary of State during the first several days of 2017. He was looking forward to getting back to his CPA practice and spending time with his grandson. But then, he said, people began to call and ask him to run again for county judge.

“There wasn’t any particular concern, but the one that kept resonating is the fact that we really had a very, very small voice in Austin,” Cascos said. “One of the benefits that I believe I do bring to the table is the fact that as secretary of state and former county judge, I’ve developed some very positive relationships with not only the leadership but members of commissions, directors that I believe can help Cameron (County).”

Among the most important of those connections, he said, is with the chairman and some commissioners of the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Cameron County isn’t a very competitive (county) with other communities that are seeking state funds,” Cascos said. “And I think that if I make a phone call to the chairman of TxDOT, he will return my call.”

Cascos said an “unorthodox” move he made while Secretary of State was to travel abroad, including to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena-Nieto alongside Abbott to nurture Texas’ relationship with Mexico. He added that traveling around the state showed him communities around Texas were working to attract businesses, and he was part of attempting to entice Amazon to build a fulfillment center on the border.

Cascos said his top priority the first time he ran for county judge was to get Cameron County into strong financial shape, and this time is no different.

“When I left as county judge, we were three times stronger in terms of reserves than we were when I got in,” he said.

Other issues Cascos said are important include keeping taxes low, transparency during meetings and when awarding contracts, and fairness to all employees. There’s also work to be done to find infrastructure funds, moving the second causeway project forward and handing the West Rail Trail, he added, and Cascos would advocate for a full veterans’ property tax exemption.

When it comes to infrastructure, Cascos said the county must work with TxDOT to develop mid- and long-range plans that address the growing population. The most important element will be building a second causeway to South Padre Island, he said, which will be used for evacuations, alleviate traffic congestion and spur northward growth on the island.

“If I get elected, I think … there’s a better than good likelihood that the causeway will become a reality and simply because I believe I can convince the leadership that we need it,” Cascos said. “There’s a lot of issues out there that are challenges, but I cannot do it alone. It’s going to take the commission as a whole to make some of these decisions.”

He said one of the toughest decisions he made during his previous stint as county judge was against employee raises for about three years in order to avoid a tax hike.

“So needless (to say), that wasn’t very popular with county employees, but it was the right thing to do,” he said, adding that many are underpaid while others are overpaid. “I made the decision to look out for all the taxpayers of Cameron and not just a selected few.”

Cascos said he has been able to work across party lines both on the Commissioners Court and in state positions.

“I just don’t believe yesterday, today, tomorrow, that neither party has a monopoly on good government,” he said.

EDDIE TREVIÑO, JR.

Treviño said it always has been his intention to run for reelection after he finished his term. He was sworn in November 2016 and replaced Pete Sepulveda Jr., who was appointed after Cascos’ departure.

Treviño said his past experience as Brownsville mayor and commissioner prompted him to serve the community on a larger scale. On any given day as county judge, he said he might be on a phone call regarding the deployment of troops to the border, dealing with FEMA reimbursement and taking part in work that touches economic development.

“And now that I’ve done it for almost two years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” Treviño said. “It’s an honor and a privilege and something not to be taken lightly.”

Some of the biggest issues facing Cameron County in the near future, he said, will be the impact of SpaceX, development of LNG plants at the Port of Brownsville. Both will transform the area, attract additional business and — in the case of SpaceX — bolster tourism.

“Cameron County is in a very, very critical and important point in its history, and I feel that I bring the best leadership to it,” he said, “and I would ask people to look at the not quite two years that I spent in office and see whether or not they feel that we’re on the right track. I think and believe that we are.”

Treviño said the first act of the Commissioners Court under his leadership was to eliminate the Freeport Tax, which is levied on exports, to make Cameron County more competitive among ports of entry.

He also pointed to investments the county has made in infrastructure during his tenure. The court renovated the Dancy Building, Levee Building and county courthouse. Commissions have also tackled building new precinct warehouses and a vehicle maintenance facility. The Commissioners Court approved millions in upgrades to coastal parks and is part of the development of an ecotourism center in Laguna Vista.

“Those are just a few of the items that we’ve been working on since I took office,” Treviño said. “I believe that my form of cooperative leadership, working with the fellow commissioners, working with all of the other elected officials and mayors and commissioners and older men and older women is the way to get things done.”

In terms of infrastructure, Treviño said the biggest project on the Commissioners Court’s desk is building a second causeway to South Padre Island. He and county officials are working through the environmental impact phase and collaborating with TxDOT on funding, which would require the scrapping of plans to make the causeway a toll road.

Tied into that is the need for a regional Metropolitan Planning Organization, which allows communities to receive state and federal money for transit projects, he added. That would require combining the Brownsville, Harlingen-San Benito, and Hidalgo County MPOs.

“The whole point of a regional MPO would be for additional monies for everybody involved, certainly no less than what we’re already receiving …” he said. “We need to make sure that there’s fair and reasonable representation and protocols and procedures in place so that one area cannot control or limit the projects or development of the other.”

Treviño said he also wants to keep the county tax rate the same or perhaps lower it in the future given the projected economic impact of Space X and the LNG industry at the port.

“If you want to make Cameron County a better place in which to live and work, then you can count on my assistance and cooperation in my energies to make that happen,” he said.

nadia@brownsvilleherald.com

Follow us on Facebook

Pet Central

pets

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>

Fitness

Fitness

Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>

Crosswords

Crosswords

Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>

Sudoku

Sudoku

Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>




Online Features

Pet Central

pets

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>

Fitness

Fitness

Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>

Crosswords

Crosswords

Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>

Sudoku

Sudoku

Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>