The Field Review - Local

Harlingen Has a New Mayor; What Does This Mean for Fifteen Years of Government Record History?

On May 7, 2022, the City of Harlingen had its election for Mayor. There were two candidates. The first, a fifteen year veteran of the role, Chris Boswell. The second, the challenger, Norma Sepulveda.

There was much talk about campaign financing and financial raises in this highly contested race for the Mayor of Harlingen. In the end, Norma Sepulveda will make history. She will be the first female, Hispanic, Mayor of Harlingen. This is a major step for the City of Harlingen.

But, what happens to fifteen years of government records? Specifically, what happens to all the emails Mayor Boswell received on his private employment account? Does the City of Harlingen have a say on which emails are considered government emails, or does Boswell get to pick and choose? It seems the City of Harlingen may have an interest in determining which emails are its’ and which ones are not.

It may, also, seem like the City of Harlingen will have the chance to determine the answer to the question. There is a complaint filed with the Texas Attorney General’s Office for failure to release Boswell’s emails.

It seems, after the election, this usual requests for public information and informal dispute process may have a way to formally present concern of how government business is conducted. Will the City of Harlingen move forward with allowing individuals to use private email addresses that do not get funneled through its’ own server? Or will the City of Harlingen require everyone to have a City of Harlingen email account?

The City of Harlingen is definitely capable and able to acquire email accounts for all of its employees and elected officials. So, why hasn’t it?

It seems the only way to find out which emails are the City of Harlingen’s is to obtain the complete server where the emails were stored. This may make it messy business.

We will know soon enough, what will need to be done to collect all of Boswell’s government emails on his private email server. We do not believe, him turning the emails over will mean one can believe all the emails were provided.

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