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Palmview swears in new members, appoints new officials

After swearing in their two new members and mayor elect, the Palmview city council made changes to their current administration Tuesday by appointing a new police chief, city attorney and city manager.

Tuesday’s city council meeting saw the swearing in of the city Mayor-elect, Ricardo “Ricky” Villarreal and the new council members Anthony Uresti and Jose Luis Perez.

20181120 PalmviewCityCouncilUresti and Perez were both elected to the council during the Nov. 6 general election where they received 50 and 53 percent of the votes, respectively.

Following their swearing in, the city council held a regular meeting where they approved the hiring of the new City Attorney, Eric Flores, City Manager Michael Leo and police Chief Gilberto Zamora. Zamora had been serving as the interim police chief since April.

“This is a big day for Palmview with all the new appointments happening today,” interim City Manager Leo Olivares said during the meeting.

Olivares, who has been serving as interim city manager since April of last year, reminded the council that his position was always temporary. He was appointed interim city manager following the suspension of his predecessor, Ramon Segovia, who was eventually fired from his position in June 2017.

Since his appointment, Olivares has overseen two annexations and ensured that the city has complied with the city charter as well as handled the city’s budget and reports for the council.

His successor, Leo, will take over as city manager January 1 and Olivares will assist him in the transition until then.

“I’ve been having conversation with the council since October about having someone in this position who would be in a permanent role, it’s important to the community,” Olivares said. “I look forward to work with you in what will be a transition period.

Leo serves as the director of economic development for Hidalgo County and on the board with the Palmview Municipal Development District. He said he is familiar with the city through the PMDD board and his role for the county has prepared him to be the city’s next city manager.

“Economic development stretches farther than just job creation and attracting business, infrastructure, road developments, public safety, it’s all tied to it,” Leo said. “As a Palmview resident, it’s inspiring to be part of the local government and have an impact that will improve the lives of residents.”

The city’s new police chief, Gilberto Zamora, has been with the city for 15 non-consecutive years. He has also served on the police force for the La Joya school district and the city of Peñitas.

Zamora was named interim police chief last April after his predecessor, Chris Barrera, was fired due to mismanagement issues that ultimately led the U.S. Department of Justice to suspend the city from a federal asset forfeiture program.

As police chief, Zamora will oversee the department staffed with 23 peace officers and eight dispatchers at a $2 million budget.

“This is where I started, it makes sense for me to be here,” Zamora said Tuesday. “We’re working on getting our budget straightened out and are hoping to be reinstated with the Department of Justice by the end of the year. Once we get that settled the department will focus on community partnerships to be out there with our citizens.”

The city also appointed Palmview native Eric Flores as the new city attorney. He replaces Gus Acevedo, who tendered his resignation to the city after serving as city attorney for almost a year, Olivares said.

Acevedo was present for the swearing in of the council members but left shortly before the city council meeting began. He was not immediately available for a comment.

Flores graduated from the Houston-based Thurgood Marshall School of Law on December 2017 and has a law office with his wife, Veronica, in Mission. He served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army.

“I was born and raised here, and now I have the chance to serve my community with the same dedication I’ve served my country,” Flores said.

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