FREEPORT — City Council chose fresh faces for the Freeport Economic Development Corp. board, including replacing Councilman Jeff Pena.
Members of the EDC serve two-year terms, and Pena’s seat was up for appointment. When Councilman Mario Muraira motioned to reappoint Pena, it did not receive a second.
Instead, George Matamoros and Ken Tyner were appointed as new members and David McGinty was reappointed.
“You have to be renominated, and that’s when the boards have openings,” Pena said. “They made a bunch of new nominations, and I got nominated but not voted in. It wasn’t anything sinister; it wasn’t anything political in terms of anyone forcing a hand to make a new shuffle of board members. It was part of the process. I knew this summer was going to be a new appointment summer.“
One of the questions raised was whether it was legal for a councilman to also serve as an EDC member, and City Manager Tim Kelty informed the council it was.
“I didn’t see there was a problem,” Muraria said. “I believe he had set standards in place for companies and organizations to get contracts with the city. He is also thinking about strategies or ways to benefit the city of Freeport.”
Pena believes his track record with the EDC is a successful one.
“When you can say you left it better than you found it, then you’ve done your job,” he said. “That said, I stay committed to realizing the best Freeport ever, and I will continue participating in the EDC meetings.”
While on the EDC, Pena engineered the removals of previous President Ed Garcia and secretary Nicole Mireles, a move approved by council on a 3-2 vote last November.
“I have said several times that I believe commissions and boards should be residents of the city and not in the political office, so we can reach out and grab from a number of pools of people to serve in their individual voluntary capacities,” Mayor Brooks Bass said.
Although he is no longer on the EDC, Pena said he would continue to be involved.
“If you care about this, there is no reason why you should stop. There are some exciting and important projects coming down the pipe,” Pena said. “On the EDC, all the programs that are in place, the grant programs, and pop box and all of the business outreach going on through the museum and chamber. Those events that I brought to the board and helped to push are a big part of what the EDC does.”