McAllen Mayor on Regionalization: Better Together
By Joey Gomez
McAllen’s new mayor wants to take a moment and gauge the significant growth taking place in surrounding communities.
Acknowledging that cities like Edinburg and Mission have experienced rapid development over the last decade, Jim Darling believes it’s time McAllen starts paying close attention to what leaders in those cities have to say.
“We are always learning, you know. Leadership doesn’t mean telling people how to do things; Leadership involves people wanting to emulate you because they think it’s the right thing to do, not because we are telling them to do that. We can always learn from other communities,” Darling said. “If you take a look at Mission and Edinburg and the growth they had in the last decade, they had significant growth. We are already planning to sit down with Edinburg’s mayor and city manager and talk about those factors that caused their growth.”
Some of his regional ideas include working with surrounding communities to build a natatorium, which is an indoor swimming pool complex to promote sports’ tourism and competition. McAllen will also be working with the City of Mission, as well as with state and county leaders, to develop Taylor Road and similar highway projects he says will benefit everybody.
“It has to be more than just McAllen simply growing into other communities. What did they do to foster their growth? Because percentage wise, their growth was twice that of ours. There is always an opportunity to learn,” he said.
Darling was sworn-in in May as McAllen’s 19th mayor in the city’s 102-year existence.
Bringing decades of experience to his new leadership role, Darling has represented the City of McAllen and other governmental entities for 28 years and is presently the general counsel for Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg. He was initially hired as McAllen’s city attorney by former McAllen Mayor Othal Brand, Sr.
Of his first priorities, Mayor Darling said he plans to go on a listening tour to find out what McAllen citizens want for their community. From a city perspective, Darling said he will focus on traffic congestion, housing, and the development of the old McAllen Civic Center at 10th Street and Expressway 83.
“When you talk about McAllen, Mission, Edinburg, (and) Pharr, you’re talking about potentially a city of about 300 or 400,000 people. It moves us up there. If we think of opportunities where we can get together to do that, then we can have the synergy of a city of 300 or 400,000 people. We have to put our differences aside.”