The city council this month will interview more than a dozen people vying for open positions on city boards that oversee port commerce, tourism and city planning.
Ten people applied for three positions on the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, which oversees tourism. Two are open positions and one is an incumbent who re-applied.
Eight people are vying for three positions on the Wharves Board of Trustees, which governs the Port of Galveston. One of the positions isn’t a full three-year term because the appointee will replace a trustee who resigned. For the planning commission, seven people, including three incumbents, have applied for three positions.
The first round of interviews started last week and remaining candidates will be interviewed during a city council meeting later this month.
“It’s impressive to see the number of good people,” Mayor Jim Yarbrough said of the many candidates.
In a series of interviews, candidates answered questions about their priorities, perspectives and knowledge of the challenges each board faces.
One of the issues that came up was whether the park board should do things to better control the number of tourists visiting the island to mitigate issues like traffic, which most candidates felt would be difficult to do and bad for the island.
“If you start trying to not market to people you can quickly flip that where Galveston isn’t a place people go,” said Maureen Patton, an incumbent trustee and executive director of The Grand 1894 Opera House.
The island is flourishing now and the park board is focused on how to get people to stay longer when they visit, she said.
Other candidates talked about how to alleviate parking issues along the Seawall. Candidate Eric Tucker, a Realtor, suggested more parking garages on the island, an idea that’s been floated by other candidates, including former council member Frank Maceo. Maceo also applied for a position on the park board.
Financial issues came up several times during the interviews with wharves board candidates.
“The biggest challenge we have is money,” said Albert Shannon, a incumbent trustee applying for another term. “There are other challenges. One is I think the port needs to do a better job of PR and marketing.”
For planning commission, candidates highlighted the ability to have strong neighborhoods and promote small businesses on the island.
Incumbent member Cate Black, a local architect, said the planning commission is an opportunity for the city to research issues and explore the conditions for each application and how it might affect the island. Nothing is cut and dry, she said.
“I don’t think we should just be rubber stamping or sending things through because otherwise there’s no point in having a planning commission,” Black said.