In 2013, I was honored to be elected for Baytown City Council District 2. I’m now in the final year of my second term. My 2013 campaign centered around new ideas and fresh perspectives. Fittingly, my campaign slogan was A New Voice – A New Vision. I’ve brought a new voice to City Council. At times, I’ve spoken up when others didn’t or when it wasn’t politically correct to do so.
I’ve also brought a new vision to District 2. I’ve tried to improve District 2 through actions and results. Within weeks of taking office, with the help of former City Manager Bob Leiper, we went to work in District 2. The Public Works Dept started digging out drainage ditches, fixing potholes, and adding streetlights. After Mr. Leiper’s retirement, I asked Administration to help improve the old “Pelly” area. The City began with some long-overdue demolition of dilapidated eyesore structures and the Community Development Dept reached out to neighborhood residents. This culminated with neighbors coming together for a new National Night Out event at the United Church on Nazro Street. More recently, with the help of current City Manager Rick Davis, the City just added a lot of new sidewalks and over 35 new streetlights in the Oak Addition area. This area is brighter, cleaner, and safer today than it was before I took office.
Speaking of dilapidated eyesores, I promised to aggressively pursue demolition of the old San Jacinto Hospital property. This abandoned structure had become extremely dangerous and was beyond economic repair. It had turned into one of the biggest blights in our community. I’m thankful to former Mayor DonCarlos and my first group of Council colleagues for supporting its total demolition.
One of my proudest accomplishments has been helping turn around old downtown, recently branded the “Downtown Arts District.” It has been deeply rewarding to see this area grow and evolve towards what we all hope it can become. The Town Square green space has activated the area by providing a festive atmosphere for wintertime ice skating, farmers markets, food trucks, art contests, and a litany of festivals. The highly popular Snow Day and ice skating alone bring nearly 10,000 visitors to the area each Christmas season.
Saving and renovating the old Brunson Theater has been a costly and challenging process, but demolishing this local landmark would’ve been costly beyond dollars and cents. Next month, the City’s Tourism & Events Dept will start moving into the building and marketing first-class office incubator space to the public.
Putting old downtown on the right path has not been the work of any single person, but the work and dreams of many individuals that has created a positive atmosphere where blight and decay once ruled the day. Hundreds of citizens have offered encouragement and I’m grateful to them. I’m also pleased new Mayor Capetillo and my second group of Council colleagues are dedicated to continuing the successful direction of the Downtown Arts District. Although the future has never shined brighter, the work never stops as this area continues to evolve.
I’ve worked diligently and have achieved about 80% of what I set out to achieve for District 2 and the community. I wish it was currently at 100%, but things take a while with City Hall and local government.
I have mixed emotions about calling it a day this coming November. I want to finish what I started and reach or exceed 100%, but another 3-year commitment is a long time. A great many folks have encouraged me to continue onward. Without that support and encouragement, I wouldn’t consider it. Rather than belabor the decision any longer, I’ve decided to saddle up and continue onward for another term, but with one caveat. The caveat being that hopefully another District 2 resident steps up a couple of years from now. It takes time and effort to understand City Hall and how to be a productive Council member. I’d be willing to help the right person so that he or she could hit the ground running like I did.
I still treasure turning out almost 3 times the number of District 2 voters in 2013 than usual and the overwhelming support I received from all walks of life. This position has worn on me at times, but I still have enough gas left in my tank to help make a few more good things happen for
District 2 and the community. With your continued support, I look forward to finishing my City Council tenure with the same passion and resolve I started with back in 2013.
Chris Presley has represented District 2 on Baytown City Council since 2013. He graduated from Ross S. Sterling High School and holds degrees from Lee College, The University of Texas at Austin, and Texas A&M University.