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Gerlach takes seat on Mission council

The City of Mission declared Marissa Ortega Gerlach the official winner of the Place 3 special election. She emerged victorious with 50.08% of the vote against her three opponents. And although Ortega Gerlach did not always envision occupying a seat on the Mission City Council, she said she always wanted to give back to the community in some form.

Photo courtesy of City of Mission

“When this position became vacant, it was the perfect time for me and [it was] the position that I felt that I could serve well in and be the voice for the citizens,” the councilwoman said. “And with my background, it would add value to the council.”

Ortega Gerlach is a born and raised Missionite. The mother of two graduated from Sharyland High School in 1994 and married her high school sweetheart Scott Gerlach. The two would later become the power couple of Jaguar Hydrostatic Testing — the family-owned oil and gas service company based in Mission.

But before Ortega Gerlach joined the business her husband founded, she worked in various aspects of finance. The Missionite earned a bachelor’s degree in administration and accounting in 1999. She went on to work for a certified public accounting firm, where she did internal and external auditing, along with financial reporting and analysis for various financial institutions. Then, Ortega Gerlach joined the team at Texas State Bank, where she worked on securities exchange reporting, and stayed on after the bank was publicly traded. In April 2011, she joined Jaguar Hydrostatic, where she is now the business manager.

“I’m at a point now in my life and in my career that I have the knowledge, I have the skillset, I have the background through my 24 years of this experience to give back to the citizens of the city that basically raised me,” the 56-year-old said.

Although the Place 3 special election was Ortega Gerlach’s first foray into political office, she is no stranger to community involvement. Her family helps with local fundraising and is involved with the Texas Citrus Fiesta.

While on the campaign trail, the Missionite said she most enjoyed getting to know the people of the Mission community. Though she did not name specific issues she wants to tackle while on the city council, she is excited to hit the ground running.

“I’ve had one meeting under my belt and I’m feeling great,” Ortega Gerlach said. “I’m looking forward to being the voice of the citizens and making the best decisions for them and our city.”

At the Dec. 18 special meeting, 93rd District Court Judge Fernando Mancias swore in the new council member. Before taking her seat next to the mayor, her predecessor Abiel Flores had some words of wisdom for the first-time public official.

“The city of Mission has spoken — that they trust Ms. Gerlach to continue to serve the citizens of Mission in the way that you said you would, with transparency, with integrity,” Flores said. “And as a citizen of Mission, all I ask is that you do that — that when you make decisions, that you keep us first in mind. Keep politics out as much as you can. And it’s hard, I get it, but that’s all we ask — that you do what you said you were going to do. And I trust that you will.”

Ortega Gerlach responded to Flores in a Progress Times interview. She said she agreed, and has no intention of letting politics interfere with her decision-making. And as for the Mission community, she appreciates their support.

“I want to thank them for their trust in my ability to make the best decisions on their behalf, and to continue on our path to grow Mission and keep Mission moving forward,” she said.

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