By ABBEY KUNKLE
Special to the PRESS
City Councilwoman Alita Bagley has served the city for seven years, working hard on many initiatives to protect our beach and revitalize our city. Born in a suburb near Chicago and raised in Wyoming, Bagley met her husband 41 years ago and followed him to the great State of Texas. The Bagleys raised their family in the Edinburg/Mission Area where they own a wholesale produce business, and when their last child left home, moved to the Island permanently. Working two days per week for the Chamber of Commerce gives her the opportunity to interact with business owners and managers, residents and tourists, while still having the time necessary for City business. She enjoys spending time on the beach, tennis, biking, and bird watching.
- How did you become interested in politics and what inspired you to run for City Council?
After moving to the Island and having an empty nest, I was interested in getting involved in the community, something I did not have much time for with a household full of kids. Because of my love for the beach I was interested in ways I could help protect and preserve this amazing natural resource. I volunteered to serve on the City’s Beach and Dune Task Force. This committee was a perfect fit and I spent many hours learning what I could, attending conferences and meetings, and researching what other communities were doing. In 2008, I was asked if I would be willing to serve on the Board of Alderman as one member had been elected as a representative in Austin and her seat would be vacated.
- What are some changes that you have contributed to during your time on the Council?
In my mind, one of my most important contributions I feel I have made was being instrumental in the creation of a Coastal Resources Manager position. The beach and bay are our most important assets and needed the utmost attention. Ruben Trevino, who serves in this position, has done a remarkable job in creating programs for the protection, renourishment and sustainability of our beach and dunes. As we know, dunes are our first line of defense in a storm and several years ago, I along with Nancy Marsden a local resident and Dr. Elizabeth Heise from UTB, began a proactive approach to reinforcing and restoring dunes. This program continues today with the help of Surfrider Foundation and other volunteers and our dunes are looking great! I also brought a “Padre Blvd. Revitalization” plan to the City Council in 2010.
- What is your personal agenda of issues you would like to resolve and how do you plan to accomplish these goals?
I will continue to work towards improving our community by creating a walkable main street where visitors and residents alike can visit our shops and restaurants in a safe, enjoyable environment. I will also continue to ensure that our beach and dunes are our first priority as they are the mainstay of our economy. I initiated a “Treasure it….Don’t Trash it….” anti litter campaign in 2012 and through the efforts of volunteers and code enforcement offices, our beaches are beginning to have less trash.
- How do you plan to increase business interest and development in the city?
I believe South Padre Island is a vacation destination first and foremost. Although we have a permanent resident base, it is small compared to our number of visitors. Our economy depends on tourism. Our industry is hospitality. I believe it is the responsibility of municipal government to use their resources to provide for insured public safety, to build and maintain infrastructure that will attract quality development, and use HOT resources to market our Island as a vacation destination. That is my simple answer. Of course, it isn’t that easy. Since I have been on City Council there have been initiatives to spur new development and support existing business such as Form Based Code, TIRZ, specific marketing targets.
- What is your long-term goal, and what kind of legacy would you like to leave in the community?
Unfortunately, in government, most goals are long term. I have learned firsthand the old adage “the wheels of government turn slowly” is very true. My only legacy I would like to leave is having the people I served believe that I did my job to the best of my ability and did it with honesty and integrity. That would make it all worth it.
Want the whole story? Pick up a copy of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.