Pictured: Dorella Elizondo and Juan Rodriguez Jr. take their oaths of office Tuesday. Photo by CHRISTOPHER MAHER

Elizondo named Mayor Pro-tem

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

The Alice City Council officially accepted the resignation of former Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez Tuesday, and appointed Mayor Pro-tem Juan Rodriguez Jr. in her place.

Saying that the council should follow "historical precedent" by promoting the mayor pro-tem to serve as mayor, council member Dorella Elizondo introduced the motion Tuesday, which received unanimous approval.

"I look forward to stepping it up and taking our community, our residents, to another level, where we should be. This is a great community, a world-class community, and I look forward to working with our residents," Rodriguez said after the vote. "Lately, we've had a lot of participation and attention, and we want to turn that around and highlight the positive aspects of our community."

Rodriguez also thanked Saenz-Lopez, who was not present Tuesday, for her service to the community.

"I would like to thank former mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez for all the time and the great service that she gave to our community, and all the hard work she did," Rodriguez said. "I'm sorry she's not here to thank in person, because any public servant, regardless of choices and decisions, gives of their time and they sacrifice. I'd like to thank her."

The council also unanimously voted to promote Elizondo to serve as mayor pro-tem for the council.

"It's been a very trying time these past few months, and I think the council has done a wonderful job in staying together and trying our best to work with our community," Elizondo said.

"I think now we can concentrate on what our great assets are, and everything that we have in Alice that's positive. Hopefully the attention that we get now will be positive."

Elizondo encouraged the many different media representatives who were in attendance for Tuesday's meeting to continue focusing on the city.

"Alice will only be moving forward in positive ways," Elizondo said. "So please continue watching us, because there's going to be some great things coming from our city."

Judge Richard Terrell presided over the swearing-in ceremony for Rodriguez and Elizondo.

Council member Leo Escobar congratulated both Rodriguez and Elizondo Tuesday and said he hoped to work with them to improve the city's image.

"I'm honored to lead the city of Alice in turning these trying times we had around, and hopefully something positive will come out of it," Escobar said.

The council was scheduled to appoint someone to fill Rodriguez's empty council position, but tabled the matter Tuesday to better research possible replacements.

"By making this appointment, we are going to be acting, in essence as the citizens' voice," Valverde said.

"We're going to look at this very diligently. At this point, I think it's still too early to make a determination, but we are looking into all the different possibilities out there."

Once the full council is in place, Valverde said, citizens should expect a change in tone from that of the past few months.

"We're closing a very trying and very sad chapter in Alice history," Valverde said.

"But, I think we're going to rewrite a new and exciting chapter for Alice, and we're going to do everything we can to make sure that chapter reads like a fairy tale."