Newly appointed Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Pusley has two words for anyone wondering why he ran for a county position - economic growth.
"Economic development has got to take the forefront in Nueces County and Corpus Christi, so that's going to be a big issue with me," Pusley said. "One of the first things I'm going to try to get on track here is the County Road 52 project."
County Road 52 has been delayed over the past few years as the city and county went back and forth over who would fund the overall project, which would primarily be paid for through state funds. Eventually, the county put up $500,000 with the city adding about $1 million from its recent bond election in November, with a potential $7 million coming from the Texas Department of Transportation.
However, officials with the city and county have recently said the project is now no longer a priority for the state. Pusley said he would like to change that.
"The city has committed to it, the county has committed money to it, and now we need to get the (Metropolitan Planning Organization) to put it back on their radar screen," Pusley said.
Pusley has also made good on his pledge to hold a workshop on the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds, pushing to have one scheduled Jan. 30 at 8:30 a.m.
"We have some significant issues there, no doubt about it," the Precinct 1 Commissioner said. "We're just going to have to address some of them and try to work through it."
While there may be differences in opinion from commissioners on the future of fairgrounds expansion, Pusley said he hopes to bring a new perspective to the controversial project.
"I hope to bring a business approach to that and look at things from a business perspective and hopefully in working with the other commissioners, we can come up with some good ideas on what we can do," Pusley said.
Pusley said he is also working with the Oil Belt Little League and Northwest Little Miss Kickball to help alleviate some of the space issues those programs are encountering.
"They've got a really good problem there and those programs are growing…in fact, to the point that they've had to turn some of those kiddos away," Pusley said. "Those are great programs and we need to do whatever we can do to help them."
One option includes building new fields for the leagues, and Pusley's predecessor, Peggy Banales, had proposed such an option with Pusley's support. However, other commissioners were wary of using nearly $120,000 in funds slated to be used for drainage purposes to build the fields and tabled the item until Pusley was sworn in to office.
The new Precinct 1 commissioner said he understands the concerns of his colleagues and plans to look at all avenues for funding the project, including looking to private donors.
"We're going to have to look and see what we're going to have to do to fix their problems, what it's going to cost and then where we're going to get the money; and where we're going to get the money is still up in the air at this point," Pusley said. "It's going to be a priority project and we'll have to find the money somewhere and it may be a combination of county money and private funds."
The new commissioner said he would spend the first part of his tenure getting up to speed on all of the projects his predecessor had been working on, such as the proposed marsh walkover at Hazel Bazemore Park and the county's master drainage plan.
Pusley said he also plans to make a concerted effort to help revitalize the downtown area of Corpus Christi, an area he believes is critical to growth for Nueces County.
"The revitalization of Downtown Corpus Christi, that is in my precinct, that will be a goal for me," Pusley said. "For too many years now…I've been listening to politicians talking about revitalizing Downtown Corpus Christi, and other than a few (businesses) down there, it has not happened.
"We need to make that a goal and the county needs to do whatever it can to help that."
Pusley said the downtown area of Corpus Christi, which is the county's largest source of property tax revenue, could help drive the county forward in terms of economic growth.
"It's an economic engine that is sorely underused," Pusley said. "I just think we have a lot of potential there and we need to take advantage of it."
Despite the full plate, the new commissioner said he is excited about the beginning of his new term and looks forward to addressing the concerns of his constituents.
"I'm very honored and thrilled to be county commissioner here in Nueces County and Precinct 1," Pusley said. "It's been something I've wanted to do for many, many years and I'm excited about the potential we have here in Nueces County.
"I think we have, contrary to the national trends, I think we have a lot of great things on the horizon."