New leaders both appointed and elected have taken their seats at city halls in Converse, Live Oak and Selma.
Converse City Council tabbed former member Shawn Russell for the Place 1 seat. Russell follows Kathy Richel, who resigned because she was moving out of town.
In a related action, Dana Losey, budget manager with local nonprofit Youth Advocate Programs Inc., was selected as the Place 4 replacement for Kate Silvas, who was removed by a council vote.
Elsewhere, Live Oak City Council picked Ramon Norris Jr. to fill the Place 3 opening previously occupied by Anthony Brooks, who died in April from COVID-19-related complications.
Finally, when John Sharp declined a reelection bid, Noah Washington Jr. took the Selma City Council Place 2 position in May.
In Converse, nine residents originally applied for the Place 4 spot; two withdrew from consideration.
Losey, a Maryland native who pursued her collegiate career after moving to Texas, holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a master’s in human sciences from Our Lady of the Lake University.
Her mother’s civic activity inspired Losey to be active in her community, even as a youngster.
“My mom was big about organizing, so I’d volunteer for things like Meals on Wheels,” she said.
A previous stint as grants manager for a nearby town provided the skills and confidence needed for local government, Losey added.
“I really enjoyed working for the city of Seguin. I got a wide view of all things that happen in a city,” she said.
Losey feels Converse has efficiently communicated events, initiatives, challenges and more with residents and merchants.
She now wants to enhance public safety in the town.
“Let’s make sure (police, fire, emergency medical services) have a strong staff,” Losey said. In addition, she’ll push to expand service hours at the city library after the pandemic subsides and restrictions relax.
“I just hope to serve the citizens well,” she added.
Meanwhile, four Converse residents filed as Richel’s successor. Nancy Droneburg ousted Russell, a coding manager, in the 2019 city election.
A resident of 30-plus years, Russell told the council on July 7 she possesses city-budgeting experience and critical thinking.
“One of the biggest things I think about when I’m going to make a decision is to make sure I’m doing the right thing, that it’s going to benefit the citizens,” she added.
In neighboring Live Oak, the council picked Angel Suarez from a five-applicant field to fill the Place 3 vacancy left by Brooks’ death. Suarez, however, recently relocated from Universal City, hadn’t lived in town long enough and was ruled ineligible.
His resignation opened the door for Norris.
The Ohio native, who pursued business-administration studies at Xavier University before coming to Texas five years ago, lived in Austin for three years and then relocated to Live Oak in 2018.
Participating in business-advocacy groups, Citizens on Patrol and other civic organizations spurred Norris’ interest in city government.
He said improving the Police Department is key.
“Community policing has been a big thing with me, so I hope to help continue that here,” added Norris, vice president of a construction-distribution company.
The cycling enthusiast is also interested in increasing bike lanes and enhancing parks.
In Selma, Washington took his council seat in an uncontested race. The May 2 elections were not held due to the pandemic. The Mississippi native first moved to Texas in 2014.
Washington saw Selma as “the perfect choice” for life as a retired Army logistics officer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Park University, and a master’s in human-resource development from Indiana State University.
Soon after moving to town in 2016, he volunteered with a focus group, which discussed developing a local trail system, and served with two other city commissions.
Washington then filed for a council spot because he said he “had so much more to offer our city and this was another way to serve.”
The new council member said he’s taken “the observe, learn and engage approach.”
“I honestly feel like our city is advancing in a positive manner. Look at our tax rate, type of businesses and the jobs we are bringing here,” he added. “My focus is to continue advocating for the best encounters that will benefit the citizens of Selma and our city.”