By Gaige Davila
Late last year, Susie Houston sat on the Laguna Vista Town Council dais for the last time.
In her post-mayoral life, Houston told the PRESS at Laguna Vista’s Roloff Park last November, there’s a void, after serving as the Town of Laguna Vista’s mayor for 11 and a half years, from 2009 to 2020.
“It was a huge part of my life,” Houston said. “It was family and then town. God, family and then town.”
Houston did not expect when she ran for her fourth term that it would be her last. But, ultimately, her family came first, deciding last February that she would not seek reelection.
Houston’s children and grandchildren are spread from California, to Austin to here in the Laguna Madre area, which made it hard to see them regularly as a full-time teacher and mayor of Laguna Vista. Houston’s mother, now 94, after recently recovering from COVID-19 that she contracted in October, is also a major reason for her decision not to run for office.
“I always akin being the mayor of Laguna Vista to a part-time job,” Houston said as she reflected on her duties. But Houston had a full-time job as mayor: teaching 3rd grade at Derry Elementary, then teaching at the Laguna Madre Christian Academy, where she teaches 3rd to 11th grade today.
But in the eleven and half years she was mayor, Houston has only missed two town meetings: after her father died, and a mayoral trip to Austin.
Even while teaching, Houston would act as mayor, having to sign documents at Derry Elementary when the town council needed to move ahead on policy. But that was normal in some ways, as Houston didn’t have an office at Laguna Vista’s city hall, opting to meet with constituents at Roloff Park.
How Houston ran for mayor to begin with was through a set of coincidences she couldn’t ignore. Houston initially wanted to run for the Point Isabel ISD school board, after being a part of the first class of Leadership Laguna Madre, a leadership program focusing on Laguna Madre area issues. But the desire to be involved in city politics was present early on: Houston grew up in a “civic-minded” family, she says: her father worked for the City of Waco and was in the National Guard, her uncle was the city attorney, her grandfather was the Chief of Detectives, and her brother worked for the city, too.
Her opportunity came knocking next door.
Stan Hulse, former mayor of Laguna Vista, lived next door to Houston in 2009. Hulse, who was moving to Corpus Christi, was not running for reelection. Houston told her husband, Herb, “I think it’s my time.”
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