Friday, September 16, 2022
ARCOLA—Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza traveled the state to deliver donated police cruisers to Arcola Mayor Jesus Garza, Friday. She was joined by Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico who offered the used-but-still-good vehicles.
On Friday morning, Comptroller Mendoza and Mayor Serpico embarked on the journey from the Little Village Arch in Chicago – a fitting location to mark Mexican Independence Day. The day, each September 16, commemorates a Mexican priest’s 1810 proclamation of independence from Spain.
The officials then traveled in the vehicles downstate to Arcola, a brick-street town known for its annual Broom Corn Festival.
Comptroller Mendoza had visited with Mayor Garza last year after reading a Chicago Tribune article about his unlikely path to mayor of the city of about 3,000 residents in Douglas County, south of Champaign. During the visit, she offered Mayor Garza whatever help she could.
Mayor Garza said brighter streetlights could help deter crime downtown. Comptroller Mendoza said she knew the president of Ameren, Richard Mark. She made a call, connected President Mark with Mayor Garza, and Ameren installed new streetlights.
Mayor Garza told Comptroller Mendoza that Arcola needed an additional police squad car. Comptroller Mendoza called Mayor Serpico that night and told him if he had any cruisers he was decommissioning, Arcola could use one.
“She only told me once, but I remembered,” Mayor Serpico said Friday. He donated not one, but two cruisers as soon as they became available. “We’ve been friends for 20 years. She was kind enough to walk the precincts of Melrose Park with me during my first mayoral campaign and I’ve never forgotten her generosity. The people of Melrose Park are happy to help the people of Arcola.”
Comptroller Mendoza said she loved Garza’s story of the immigrant mechanic who became mayor, and he was as humble as she’d heard when she met him.
“How perfect that on Mexican Independence Day, we celebrate the first Mexican immigrant mayor of Arcola, not just because he’s Mexican but because he’s delivering great services, and he’s such a nice guy. Everyone loves him here,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “They didn’t elect him because he’s Mexican. We’re just proud – I am at least. I’m going to do everything I can, not just to help the mayor but to help all his constituents because they are my constituents. Whatever I can do to help people, whether it’s within the purview of my office or through the relationships I’ve built in 20 years of service, today, we get to see the fruits of those labors.”
Garza and Arcola’s police officers were very happy with the new squad cars, a 2009 white Ford Expedition SUV and a 2013 black Ford Taurus.
“We’re so happy to have these police cars,” Mayor Garza said. “The goal is to keep everybody safe, make sure there’s no vandalism. We work together on that. Getting these lights, these cars, are all helping with that.”