Chamber hosts ‘Breakfast with the Mayor’

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Several dozen people packed into the dining room at Pirate’s Landing last Friday morning to learn about the latest developments within the City of Port Isabel. It was the annual Breakfast with the Mayor, hosted by the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce.

As the crowd nibbled on a breakfast of croissant sandwiches, pan fried potatoes, fresh fruit and coffee Mayor Juan Jose “J.J.” Zamora stood to speak of how the City’s current administration differs from the last.

“One area that I can speak about — that myself and others, the other (commissioners), the city manager — the area that we started was the new culture in city politics,” Zamora said.

That new culture involves treating the operation of the City more like a business, and using the City charter to guide the Commission’s actions. “I think we have accomplished a lot, trying to get away, involved politics and micromanagement and stuff like that,” Zamora said, adding that the hiring of City Manager Jared Hockema has gone a long way towards shifting that culture.

“He’s been the backbone of the City. The accomplishments we have done in the last three years are mostly his. We’re there for oversight and (to) support him,” the mayor said.

Zamora next outlined several projects and developments which have occurred thus far in his tenure as mayor. The latest, he said, has been the pending sale of the Yacht Club and the recent annexation of the eastern half of Laguna Heights. “We’re doing a lot to bring them in and hopefully clean up the area as much as we can,” Zamora said.

The mayor also touted the reduction of the city’s workforce, which was done in a cost savings attempt beginning in 2015. “We brought it down to one-third of what we had, so we saved the City about $700,000 from that, to bring our debt down,” Zamora said. “It wasn’t easy. It was a struggle.”

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