Wednesday evening’s South Padre Island City Council Meeting was a celebratory inaugural affair. Mayor Robert Pinkerton Jr. looked on to a full house and thanked the crowd for being there despite the inclement weather. Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos was in attendance to swear in the new major and council members.
Major Pinkerton thanked Cascos for being at the meeting and congratulated him for being appointed Secretary of State by newly-elected Governor Greg Abott.
The Council moved to the much anticipated portion of the evening. They approved the results of the Nov. 4 General and Special Election and Mayor Pinkerton stood up from his central seat for the last time. He said, “JoAnn and I will leave our positions and give way to the good incoming successors.” The entire room applauded and gave them a standing ovation. Mayor Pro-Tem JoAnn Evans followed, and Cascos came up to swear in the newly elected officials.
Newly-elected Mayor Barry Patel came forward to take on the position. He raised his right hand, took his oath, signed the papers, and made the move from council member to mayor official. The crowd applauded, and Mayor Patel took his seat at the table.
Newly-elected council members Dennis Stahl and Julee LaMure followed suit, taking the path to serve the City of South Padre Island with all that the office entails. The new council members were each given a moment to speak. They were thankful for the opportunity to serve and recognized the responsibility of their position.
Mayor Patel took a moment to recognize outgoing Mayor Pinkerton and Mayor Pro-Tem Evans. He presented Evans with an award for her dedication of eight and a half years of outstanding service and commitment. He thanked her on behalf of the City Council for her hard work and leadership that will have a lasting effect on the community.
Next, the new mayor expressed his appreciation for the impressive 22-and-a-half years of service by his predecessor. Mayor Patel said, “Your leadership has had a powerful influence in the growth and progress of our community.” He thanked the mayor and presented him with an award on behalf of the City Council. Mayor Pinkerton said, “I just wanted to say it’s been a real honor to serve the Island. There’s just nothing like it and Barry, by the end of his service, whether it be one term or 10 terms, is going to be so grateful he was allowed and privileged to serve and represent the city.”
Mayor Patel returned to his seat and took the opportunity to again thank Mayor Pinkerton for his service. He is leaving the city in a strong financial condition with fully-funded reserves and one the lowest tax rates in Texas. His selfless service in the Marine Corps transitioned to selfless service in the city, and Mayor Patel expressed gratitude on behalf of himself and the community.
Next on the agenda was the discussion and action to appoint a Mayor Pro-Tem to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Evans, No discussion was necessary as new Council Member Julee LaMure immediately nominated Council Member Alex Avalos to be the new Mayor Pro-Tem. The nomination passed unanimously.
Texas Environmental Health Association (TEHA) Executive Director Jodie Heilman traveled 700 miles to present the Ruth Hendy Award of Excellence in Food Safety, the highest honor awarded by the Association, to Environmental Health Director Victor Baldovinos and his team. The award recognizes their high degree of professionalism to the community.
The new council quickly approved the consent agenda covering invoices for payment as well as a budget amendment for insurance proceeds associated with the power outage on Oct. 8.
New Public Works Director Armando Gutierrez reviewed a wish list of potential projects that have not yet been approved by City Council but are being researched by city staff. The list was available in the public packet and included sidewalk improvements and new bike lanes on Padre Boulevard as well as improvement of existing bike lanes. The Council also approved a Beach Dune Permit for the remodel of amenities at 3504 Gulf Blvd. and awarded the contract for structural engineering services to design a pedestrian walkover at the Pearl Hotel authorizing the City Manager to negotiate fees in association with the project.
These issues were the first of many decided by the new City Council under the leadership of Mayor Patel.
Abbey Kunkle