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Elections will result in new mayor, councils

GALENA PARK CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES: (L to R): At the recent Candidates Forum, these Council Candidates presented their qualifications: Position #1 Water & Sewer: Joe DeLaTorre; Position #2 Police & Fire: Lois Killough; Position #3 Parks & Recreation: Maricela Serna, Veronica Garcia; Position #4 Street & Bridge: Mark Groba, Juan Flores, Martha Flores. NOT SHOWN, Position #1 Danny Simms, Position #2 Zenaida Granados.

GALENA PARK CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES: (L to R): At the recent Candidates Forum, these Council Candidates presented their qualifications: Position #1 Water & Sewer: Joe DeLaTorre; Position #2 Police & Fire: Lois Killough; Position #3 Parks & Recreation: Maricela Serna, Veronica Garcia; Position #4 Street & Bridge: Mark Groba, Juan Flores, Martha Flores. NOT SHOWN, Position #1 Danny Simms, Position #2 Zenaida Granados.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information on GP Mayoral candidates appeared last week in the North Channel STAR.

Election day for Galena Park and Jacinto City will be this Saturday, May 10. Locations to vote are detailed later in this article.

Jacinto City will elect three city council members, with newcomers challenging incumbents in all three seats. These are: Position #1 Parks & Recreation, incumbent Jimmy Rivas faces Diego Lopez; Position #2 Finance & City Hall incumbent Gregg Robinson faces challenger LaGloria Sephus; and Position #3 Police & Fire incumbent Allen Lee faces Raymond Morlock. Voting takes place at the Town Center from 7 am to 7 pm.

In Galena Park, the mayor’s seat and all the council positions are to be elected. To help the voters make a decision, the North Channel STAR and the GP-JC Rotary Club held a Candidates’ Forum last Friday night, April 25th.

Candidates were given an opportunity to present their qualifications and their ideas for their office, and then answer questions from a panel and the public. About 100 people were in the audience for this event, held at Baggett Community Center.

In the Council races, candidate Joe DeLaTorre recalled his 35 years in Galena Park, and said “I love this town.” He said he was a candidate that could get things done, and improving the condition of housing was a priority. He recalled the family restaurant which brought him here, and said it was important for people to shop and support the local businesses. He would convert abandoned properties into tax roles, and collect fines for air pollution.

Candidate Lois Killough presented a long list of her credentials, including educational and administrative positions with GPISD. She also started the crime watch in Cloverleaf, and moved an underperforming school into Exemplary status. She said the perception of Galena Park needs improved, noting that it has the lowest crime rate in the state, but that is not known. She presented several ideas to improve air pollution, and collect more money for the city budget.

Candidate Maricela Serna told of her experience with the Area Senior Citizens, senior olympics, PTA president, and finance officer of her church. She works at the county health clinic on 16th street. She wants more citizen involvement in governing.

Candidate Veronica Garcia works as a phlebotemist at the county public health clinic in Denver Harbor. She would work to secure more funding

for low income families. She wants to attract more businesses into the local scene. She thinks the city would benefit from better public transportation.

Candidate Mark Groba spoke about his 56 years in Galena Park, and 30 years as a business owner here. He is a builder and in real estate, he said. He said the city should have some “dreams” to drive its future. He suggested that the city develop the land on the landfill for economic benefit and sales tax revenue. On this issue, others spoke about the impossibility of building there, which Groba disputed. He wanted more open government, with city council meetings on Saturday so more people could attend, and the budget posted publicly so that it could be examined and debated. He said the city could offer tax incentives to attract new businesses. Another controversial idea he had, was to raise money for the city by charging tolls for truck traffic, on roads such as Clinton Drive or as they enter the Port. As for air quality, he said it is bad, and Harris County needs to help GP clean it up. He said the county has basically “forgotten about us” citing the need for a housing authority and health department facility.

Candidate Juan Flores presented his qualifications, as a lifetime of work in public service positions, and now in the greater Houston management district. He said he had sponsored a high school youth group, and started the first National Night Out event in Galena Park in many years. He urged people to know their neighbors for a better city, and wants to get the county to help with development in GP. He would form a committee to seek out new commercial development for the city.

Candidate Martha Flores said she was a medical doctor and an EMT person. She has been a teacher in Pasadena, and a Head Start worker. Her compassion leads her to special needs therapy, and to work on Special Olympics. On city finance, she thinks the budget should be public, and the city should hold more money in their reserve fund. She would work on collecting more delinquent taxes, and attract new grants and new partnerships. She wants the city to work on improving the existing infrastructure.

The voting in Galena Park will take place at Baggett Community Center for Precinct 081, and at City Hall for Precincts 208, 857, and 860. The polls will be open Saturday from 7 am to 7 pm.