PICTURED: The new city council took the oath of office Wednesday night. Pictured are (l-r) Leo Escobar, Shane Valverde, Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez, Dorella Elizondo, Juan Rodriguez and District Judge Richard Terrell, who administered the oath. |

Outgoing councilmen honored

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

A new Alice City Council took the oath of office and took time to honor two outgoing council members Wednesday.

District Judge Richard Terrell administered the oath of office to Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez, Juan Rodriguez Jr., Dorella Elizondo, Leo Escobar and Shane Valverde, while friends, family members and city staff looked on.

The council also honored Council Members Rey Garcia and Michael Esparza, who did not seek re-election this year and are leaving the council.

Each of the two members was presented with a plaque, a City of Alice watch and a key to the city.

"I want to thank Garcia for all his years of service and dedication to the city," Saenz-Lopez said. "I want to thank him for taking me under his wing when I came here."

Garcia told those in attendance he enjoyed his time on the council, and he was leaving gracefully under his own terms.

"I wanted to learn, I wanted to be informed, and I wanted to make justifiable decisions for the citizens of Alice," Garcia said of his first days on the council. "I always represented the citizens of Alice. Even if you didn't vote for me, you were represented whether you liked it or not."

Saenz-Lopez also thanked Esparza for his service to the city.

"I enjoyed serving with you tremendously, and I want to wish you well," Saenz-Lopez said.

Esparza thanked those who had supported him over the years, and encouraged the new council to continue to focus on fiscal responsibility.

"It's been an honor to serve the citizens of Alice. We've kept our taxes low, and sometimes it's been a fight and sometimes it's been easy," Esparza said. "I look forward to this new council doing some great things."

Following a tradition that allows the highest vote-getter the position of mayor pro-tem, the council unanimously voted that Rodriguez should hold the position for the next two years.

The council also voted to approve the final vote totals for the May 12 council, bond and civil service election. According to the final numbers approved by the council Wednesday, a total of 2,393 voters participated in the election. In the city council race, Rodriguez received 1,466 votes, Elizondo received 1,155 votes, Escobar received 1,129 votes, Valverde received 1,058 votes and Mauricio Garza II received 800 votes.

Saenz-Lopez, who was unopposed, received 1,466 votes. A total of 1,551 people voted in favor of the bond proposition, while 447 voted against. A total of 1,033 people voted to approve the civil service, while 990 voted against.

The next council meeting is scheduled for June 11.