By ABBEY KUNKLE
Special to the PRESS
Last November, Council Member Julee LaMure was elected to the SPI City Council and has been busy working to promote economic development and to beautify the Island. She and her husband of 20 years moved to South Padre from Richardson, Texas, where they spent the majority of their married life.
The Island has been the perfect place for LaMure to enjoy her active lifestyle, which includes running, bicycling, beach going, fishing, camping and more. Last year, after volunteering in her son’s classroom, LaMure was encouraged and inspired by teacher Shane Wilson of Garriga Elementary, to bring her new ideas to the table to make positive changes on South Padre Island.
- What inspired you to run for City Council?
It is a core value of mine to be of service to others in whatever community or situation I find myself in. Whether it’s church, school, organizations or whatever, I always want to try and do what I can to fill a need wherever I find one. I see it as my personal fiduciary responsibility to always give back however I can.
- What is the City’s most pressing issue right now?
We have a lot of catching up to do. Much of the City has been neglected and is in a state of disrepair. In fact, we are currently making critical repairs on the Convention Centre to the tune of about $4 million. And then, there’s Gulf Boulevard which has been in an embarrassing state for quite a while but is now coming along, slowly. We have neglected our public boat ramps and sidewalks, and we have a beautiful boardwalk under the causeway, which is in desperate need of repairs.
Another pressing issue is that 26 businesses on South Padre Island have closed their doors permanently in the last two years. I find this very disconcerting. We have to stabilize our economy so that we can sustain our businesses year round. When we look to new commerce, we can incentivize the heck out of our fair city, but to really have strong economic development, we have to become the sort of city where commerce wants to be, where developers and entrepreneurs can see themselves succeeding.
- What is your personal agenda of issues you would like to resolve?
I have several pet projects centered around economic development that I have been working on. The first will affect the way that we use our Hotel Occupancy Tax, turning it to a more beneficial use to capitalize on the arrival of SpaceX… If the law passes, it will allow South Padre Island to use up to 15 percent of our $7 million annual HOT Tax revenues toward facilities, programs, and events designed to help generate tourism specific to SpaceX and also for ecotourism events.
Another fun project that I‘ve been very involved with is our Cyclovia event which will be held Saturday, May 2, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. This is SPI’s inaugural Cyclovia event and we’re really doing it up right!
There will be a one-mile stretch of Padre Boulevard where one whole side is cordoned off so that no automobiles will be allowed. What you will see are people of all ages riding bikes, walking, rollerblading, and playing. There’ll be games and activities all along the path.
- How do you plan to increase business interest and development in the City?
By becoming the sort of city that attracts quality commerce. That means clean beaches, well-maintained streets and amenities, beautiful landscaping, safe streets, and exciting, wholesome activities and events that support the new vibrant South Padre Island style. We have to recreate ourselves from the sidewalks up.
- What do you hope to accomplish for the City specifically in the coming year?
By the end of 2015, expect to see Padre Boulevard resurfaced, with added crosswalks, and dedicated bike lanes clearly marked with painted stencils and with rumble strips. My hope is that we will also complete all of the improvements on Gulf Boulevard and that we will have completed several other blocks of sidewalks as well. There are so many things that are in the planning stages right now that will slowly become visible over the next 3 to 5 years and more, so stay tuned.
- What is your long-term goal, and what kind of legacy would you like to leave in the community?
When my time in office is through, I would simply like the satisfaction of knowing that I played a small part in making South Padre Island a better place to live, work, and play.
Want the whole story? Pick up a copy of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.