As Edna Mayor Joe Hermes steps down after almost 40 years of service, two candidates are stepping up in the May 4 election.

Lance Smiga, 44, councilman for District 4 and chief financial officer for the Jackson County Hospital District, is running against Bernadette Vickery, 58, deputy and detention officer for the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office.

Smiga has called Edna his hometown since age 11. Before heading to college, he graduated from Edna High School in 1993. He earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Texas A&M University in 1997 and his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston-Victoria in 2016. He and his wife, Sara Smiga, also from Edna, moved around the state before returning to their hometown in 2010 to rear their four children. He has worked as the CFO for the hospital district since 2011. In 2016, Smiga was elected city councilman for District 4 in Edna, a position he still holds.

Smiga said he sought the office of councilman and is seeking the mayor’s seat because he cares about his city, wants to make a difference and wants all residents of Edna to be proud of their community.

“This community offered me opportunities throughout my life, and now I can take this opportunity to give back,” Smiga said.

If elected, Smiga said he would bring to the table his years of experience as the CFO of the hospital district.

“Working with a taxing entity, our task is to create a budget that is fiscally responsible and provides the services the public needs,” he said.

“Whether it’s being willing to ask the tough questions, making tough decisions or prioritizing which needs to address first,” Smiga said he would work to make the city more efficient and responsible to its residents as mayor. He said being financially responsible with the city’s limited income and still accomplishing vital work that needs to happen would be the biggest challenge for the mayor.

“I think the first major priority is the overall appearance, cleanliness and appeal of the city, from businesses to homes,” Smiga said. “I think we all need to look within ourselves and have pride in the community we live in, and show this through the properties we keep.”

To make that happen as mayor, he would plan cleanup days, lead by example, and ultimately, enforce the ordinances and codes that govern the city.

“For me, as a business owner, that means keeping up the facilities at my wife’s flower shop, All About Flowers and Gifts; as CFO, that means maintaining the appearance of the hospital and the grounds,” he said. “As a homeowner, that means maintaining my property and being a good neighbor.”

Smiga said the community has benefited from consistent leadership provided by Hermes for the past 40 years. He encourages Edna’s residents to vote during this change in leadership in the mayor’s office.

“Joe has always done what he believed was right for the city,” Smiga said. “His advice my first day on City Council was to do and vote whatever my heart says is right.”

Bernadette Vickery has lived in Edna for 15 years and worked as a deputy and detention officer for the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office since 2010. She was born and reared in Spring until age 10, when her family moved to the Moulton area. She graduated from Moulton High School in 1979, completed classes at Victoria College, and spent 25 years in Sweet Home as a stay-at-home mother of two daughters and twin sons. She divorced and married Jimmy Vickery in 2007 and gained two stepsons. In 2012, she donated one of her kidneys to her husband. Both have since been in good health. She has 19 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

When Vickery moved to Edna, she worked in real estate for three years and later for Citizens State Bank in Edna and Ganado. She attended the police academy at night while working at the bank, and she graduated in 2010. She began working for the sheriff’s office in Victoria that same year. Vickery had wanted to pursue law enforcement for 30 years before she was able to make a career of it. She is a member of the Honor Guard at the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office.

“Law enforcement was a desire I had for many years, and I finally got to do it,” Vickery said. “My husband supports me 100% in everything I do.”

Vickery told her husband a few years ago that she wanted to be mayor, so when their friend, Hermes, decided not to run for reelection, she decided to follow through on the idea.

“I work with lots of different kinds of people, lots of nationalities, with people who need help who get themselves into predicaments, you know, innocent until proven guilty,” she said. “If I can make a difference in one person’s life, I feel like I’ve helped, and I’m hoping that I can make a difference as mayor here in Edna.”

The environment in which she works has opened her eyes “to know a whole world out there.”

“Sometimes you just have to listen to what people need and want, and if you don’t listen, you can’t get anything accomplished,” she said.

If elected, Vickery said keeping the community safe would be a priority and she would stand behind local law enforcement 100%. She believes Edna needs more places for the elderly and children to go and more constructive things for them to do. She wants to see the city grow, and she believes everyone must work together to make that happen.

Vickery also taught catechism at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Sweet Home for 17 years. She was a substitute teacher for Sweet Home ISD and Yoakum High School, and she was a member of the parent-teacher organization, alternating between roles as secretary and treasurer, for her children’s school. She volunteered in many other capacities for Sweet Home ISD, including putting together the school’s yearbook.

Elena Anita Watts covers arts, culture and entertainment for the Victoria Advocate. 

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