Four candidates: Incumbent Sanchez has seen improvements in Precinct 1

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Incumbent Jim Wells County Pct. 1 Commissioner Zenaida Sanchez said that as a public servant, she is in the business of giving needed services to the public, whether it's putting in a stop sign, patching a pothole or picking up debris.

But beyond that, as a commissioner it's her responsibility to allocate manpower and resources to better serve residents in her precinct and put forward what is best for all in Jim Wells County.

"Most of the constituents I have spoken with are satisfied by the improvements they've received," Sanchez said. "One of my main goals has been to prioritize seal coating for some of the worst and most heavily traveled roads in my precinct."

Sanchez served as commissioner from 1993 to 2000, and won re-election again in 2004. This is her 12th year as commissioner.

She is a graduate of St. Mary's University, and Texas Southern University Law School. This year, Sanchez has three opponents, Melva Vasquez Ramirez, Gilberto "Blackie" Saenz III and Javier Garcia.

During the last term, Sanchez said she accomplished a lot in her precinct. In her first year of seal coating, Sanchez said she hit some of the worst roads, such as County Road 147, portions of County Road170 and County Road 120 at Tecolote for nearly a mile. Her crew has also covered County Road 115, which was in deplorable condition before seal coating, she said.

During her second year, she worked on some of the most heavily traveled areas, which seal coated nearly 80 percent of Rancho Alegre.

In the end, that gave the public 50 to 60 percent of their roads seal coated in four years, Sanchez said. For residents in Tecolote, she'd also like to see the main road, County Road 120 done. Her plans for the next four years include covering almost every precinct road that has not been done yet.

Along with road maintenance, trash has been a major eyesore in her precinct and Sanchez has pushed, both through her office and within the commissioner's court, initiatives to rectify the trash problem.

One of the most forceful changes includes the creation of a county abatement officer, who pursues illegal dumping activities in all areas of the county. The key, Sanchez said, is holding people responsible for their activities.

Just this past week alone, Sanchez said her crew has picked up a mobile home that was burned and picked up debris in the Tecolote area, amounting to 22 loads of dump trucks out of the area.

"When you calculate 22 loads times $75, that's where the money goes, that's where the budget is," Sanchez said. "This year alone, there has been $65,000 set aside to pick up brush, debris and household garbage."

This effort, she said, would not have been possible without the unity of the commissioner's court.

"I see us as a cohesive unit. I see us as being able to work well together. We do have some disagreements, but there are things that we as professionals work around, and try to do what is obviously best for Jim Wells County and the taxpayers as a whole," Sanchez said.

On the horizon, she is also looking forward to the new sheriff's substation, going up soon on the corner of Castillo and Pennant.

"That was my idea, that I pushed forward in the commissioner's court. It came at a time when the church was going to sell those assets, so it was an opportunity to clear those three lots," Sanchez said.

"Once we have that there, there will be an even stronger presence of law enforcement in the Rancho Alegre area, which I think the citizens in that area will benefit from, myself included, because I live there."