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Interview With The Mayor

The Bridge News had the delightful honor of meeting and interviewing Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz. The interview was held in Killam Library, and conducted openly with students continuing on with their daily studies. Saenz was elected mayor in 2014, succeeding Raul Salinas. His term ends in 2018, but he plans on considering reelection. Saenz considers himself “different” than his predecessor. Unlike the previous mayor, he aims to remain neutral. Personally, Saenz has both liberal and conservative views like many Laredoans. When Saenz was elected, he came in as the outsider. He was the independent candidate coming from a professional career in law. He has good relations with the city manager, but he does acknowledge some of the gridlock in in city government. There is some divide between the Laredo establishment and new voices emerging in Laredo’s government. Saenz is one of one them, and understands the people who voted for him wanted change from the old institutions. With Laredo being a city that lives and breathes on economic trade, Saenz has been pushing for ways to create more and new jobs. Laredo’s populations grows by the day, and though he gave a modest number of 260,000, the city is probably pushing 300,000. With the city growing at a rapid rate, he understands that employment must also grow as well. Voter participation was also a large concern for the mayor. He takes note that many people in Laredo do not vote, which inhibits the democratic process. However, Saenz recognized the some of the political enthusiasm coming out of the presidential election. He was pleased with the amount of younger people becoming politically active, and hopes that their enthusiasm could reflect local politics as well. Likewise, Saenz was impressed in the student’s efforts to discuss local politics and be further involved with civil affairs. Concerning the city’s growth, Saenz has been working with different parties in looking to allocate funding and support into completing and maximizing Loop 20’s potentials. Performing these feats requires Saenz’ neutrality. He understands that to achieve such construction, he would have to cooperate with Democrats in the city and Republicans in the state legislature. Recently here on campus, a controversial petition was presented. The petition was originally intended to appear on the November ballot, and if passed, will add some strength to the mayor’s veto power. The petition comes as a reflex to some of the gridlock seen in the city council. Saenz does favor this. He understands that Laredoans elected him for a reason, and understands that legislations needs to get done. This gridlock cannot go on forever. He does not want the city’s government to look like the current U.S. Congress. Saenz was interviewed on FOX Business a few months ago where he was asked about some of the proposed plans by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Though he does not have full confidence that Republicans will be achieving the White House, he did share his thoughts on the matter. He strongly acknowledges that harming relations with Mexico would cause severe economic damage to Laredo, other border cities, and the state of Texas. Saenz also agrees with the state legislature on their opposition to Trump’s proposals. He also knows that the increased presence of federal authorities in Laredo, such as the Department of Homeland Security and possibly the military, would turn the city from the one of the largest land ports to a defense fort. Laredo’s international trade would become a service to the military industrial complex. Though the heavy rhetoric coming from the Republican field is supported among their voters, Saenz feels confident to know that Laredo, for the most part, rejects these ideals. “If you remove yourself from the border area, it is very easy to say ‘build a wall’,” said Saenz Saenz believes that the people of Laredo, who are immigrants themselves or first-generation Americans, understand the plight of national acceptance. Laredo is mainly a Hispanic/Mexican-American city, but he agrees that the city and its people would be very welcoming to other foreigners of different background. Laredo may be relatively homogenous, but it does excel in tolerance. “Laredo is very welcoming. We’re good people,” he said. Saenz is definitely a man who understand the city, and its needs. He stays and works here for a reason. He hopes that more people, especially the young and educated, will consider staying in and improving Laredo, a growing city that is still worth investing in.
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