Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Congratulations; now let's talk city business

By the Advocate Editorial Board
May 25, 2013 at 12:25 a.m.

Finally, after a week of unnecessary delays, Victoria has a new mayor. On Tuesday, Paul Polasek was sworn in as mayor, along with Tom Halepaska for his fourth term representing Super District 6 and Jeff Bauknight for his first term representing District 3.

We congratulate Polasek for his new position on the Victoria City Council, and we look forward to seeing how our hometown will grow and develop under his leadership. We also congratulate Halepaska and Bauknight. We hope their efforts will contribute to Victoria's leadership and further improve the quality of our community.

Now that the election - except for the runoff for Super District 5 - and the following drama are over, it is time to get to work, and we have a few suggestions for our new city leaders to focus on. Running a city is a constant task, and we hope our new and returning leaders will come together to continue to do what is best for our hometown.

As a recent U.S. Census estimate shows, Victoria's population is growing faster than the surrounding communities. According to Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Vivian, the Eagle Ford Shale economic boom is playing a large role in that increase. But, as with any boom in the oil and gas industry, eventually it will play out. That is why it is important to take advantage of the current prosperity to continue and find ways to diversify our economy so that when the boom ends - even if it is 10 or 20 years from now - our community will still be able to stand on its own and not suffer a major economic drop. We have already seen some more diverse industries and companies coming to Victoria, including Caterpillar and the proposed Texas Olive Ranch. Now, our council needs to take the lead and keep working with the Victoria Economic Development Corporation and other groups to continue this important preparation to ensure our future economic prosperity.

Part of diversifying our economy can be addressed in continuing to improve Victoria's infrastructure and roads. Over the past few years, the council has taken the lead in many projects, from replacing old pipes downtown to repaving Laurent Street, Sam Houston Drive and the recently completed Red River Street at the entrance to the park. In addition, we think the city could profit from a larger focus on beautification - such as keeping our streets clear of trash and debris - which is sorely needed in some areas of Victoria. This willingness to invest in improving our hometown's roads and other facilities, such as parks, the new splash pad and more that improve quality of life, serves as an incentive to companies thinking about settling down in Victoria. But most importantly, it serves the current residents and shows our leadership cares about the state of our hometown. We encourage you to continue this good work and keep Victoria running smoothly.

Last, but certainly not least, we encourage you to continue supporting the education system in Victoria. The previous council has already done much in their support for Victoria College's Emerging Technology Center and other projects in our hometown's education system. Education is another important factor in our community's quality of life, and we encourage our council to partner with the Victoria Independent School District as well as the University of Houston-Victoria and Victoria College and other educational institutes to make sure students receive the best education possible. We've said it many times: The children being educated today will be our future leaders. By investing in education, you would be investing in a prosperous future for our city.

We encourage Mayor Polasek and the council to consider these important issues. If you take the lead and create a plan to address each of these areas, our community will be a stronger, more welcoming place for everyone. Congratulations again, and good luck.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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