Former Alice mayor wants to serve all county residents

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Orange Grove Journal

Octavio Figueroa Jr. hopes to bring teamwork and a familiar face to the office of Jim Wells County Tax Assessor-Collector.

A former school teacher and mayor of Alice, Figueroa said he likes to stress cooperation.

"I've always been a team player. If somebody wants to cooperate with me, I'll cooperate with them. If somebody wants to give me some advice, I'm not the kind of person who thinks I'm right all the time," Figueroa said. "I will take advice, that's what makes people comfortable with me."

Figueroa is a 1961 graduate of William Adams High School, and obtained his bachelor's degree in education from Texas A&I University in 1965. He began teaching in the Alice Independent School District in 1965, and received a second bachelor's degree, in bilingual and bicultural studies, from Texas A&I University in 1976.

He and his wife, Antonieta, have one daughter and one granddaughter.

In 2006, following the death of his brother, Figueroa retired from the school district after 41 years of service.

"I didn't retire because I wanted to retire, I didn't do very much the next few months after my brother passed away," Figueroa said.

Figueroa was elected mayor pro-tem of the City of Alice in 1979 and was elected as mayor in 1981. He served for 14 years and lost a bid for re-election, but returned two years later to serve another term.

Figueroa said when he was mayor, residents in Rancho Alegre and Tecolote often complained that they were not allowed to vote for him, because they did not live inside the city limits. He decided to run for the office of Tax Assessor Collector so he would finally have the opportunity to serve them, Figueroa said.

"A lot of people had wanted to vote for me in the past, and they never had a chance. I've always liked to help people, whether I'm in office or not. People have asked me to look into this position to see if I'm interested in it," Figueroa said.

"I thought, if I was to go ahead and get elected, this would be a chance for me to represent people in areas where my parents grew up, areas with people that I knew."

Figueroa said he hopes to address any concerns the residents have about the office in a friendly manner.

"I will bring teamwork, because I like to work with people," Figueroa said. "That office will never be mine, and it will never be the staff's. Everybody who goes in there will know that office belongs to the taxpayers."

As far as any specific changes, Figueroa said he would not know if anything needed to be adjusted until he was in office.

"I know it's been going on like this for some time, and it's had good results," Figueroa said. "So the main thing is to keep up the good work that Lucila Reynolds has been doing."

If elected, Figueroa said he would work to continue representing people the same way he has in the past.

"I think with me being there, people will have someone that they've known for 65 years," Figueroa said. "And they know that I've been the same person since high school that I am now, the position doesn't mean anything."