Every year since at least 1988, The Daily News has selected and honored a resident, and in some years more than one, as its Citizen of the Year.
We consider this to be the highest compliment the newspaper can pay to people who, through their personal or professional work, made the county a more prosperous, more livable, more civil, more civic or otherwise objectively better place.
For all of those 31 years, that effort has been mostly in-house. The publisher, the editors and other organizational leaders would meet a few times and make nominations, and we’d attempt to argue those down to the one.
We talked about the good things nominees had accomplished during the previous year and often considered the whole scope of their works and reputation in deciding who to name.
The list of honorees going back to 1988 is a who’s who of movers and shakers whose influences were wide and tremendous, and a few who did a lot in a smaller footprint.
In 1988, we named Fletcher Harris, the World War II veteran and Galveston curmudgeon, for his long service in civic and community groups and for being the voice of the people, always informed and ready to speak up in effort to keep the government, and sometimes the newspaper, honest.
Since then, we’ve honored Walter P. Hall, the banker, civic leader and political kingmaker who helped shape modern League City; Alfreda Houston, a Galveston community and civil rights leader; and Jimmy Hayley, former executive vice president of Texas City-La Marque Chamber of Commerce, for his service to mainland communities.
Both Robert L. “Bobby” Moody and George P. Mitchell have been honored for things too numerous and well-known to need mentioning again, as have mayors Chuck Doyle of Texas City and Pat Hallisey of League City; and former state Reps. Craig Eiland and Mike Martin.
The list goes on and on — tireless community improver Betty Massey, who’d make a great nominee today; businessman Mike Dean; Dick and Horacene Daugird, founders of the Lighthouse Charity Team; and, most recently, both Chuck and Mary Ellen Doyle for their lifetimes of good work.
We’re proud of having honored more than 30 Citizens of the Year and for recording their names and deeds for history.
In recent years, however, we’ve talked about opening the nomination process to the public, and this year, we’re doing that.
Beginning today, The Daily News is accepting public nominations for 2020’s Citizen of the Year. Making a nomination is easy. Just go to www.galvnews.com/coy and provide the information sought on the digital form.
In the interest in keeping this effort manageable, we won’t accept nominations by any means other than the online form — no email, no text, no hard copy.
The nomination period closes Jan. 24. No nominations will be accepted after that date.
From those nominations, The Daily News will select 20 finalists and, from those, one Citizen of the Year. The finalists will be honored and the Citizen of the Year revealed during a special event on April 2.
All 20 finalists will be featured in a glossy magazine to be published April 5, the Sunday after the event, and in The Daily News.
So how about it, Galveston County? Who’s your pick for Citizen of the Year 2020?
Michael A. Smith