Tag Archives: affordable housing

Galveston Deserves Better From Its Leaders

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{Written for and Published by The Galveston County Daily News, October 4, 2013}

{this is the unedited version}

The City of Galveston Deserves Better From Its Leaders

by Kimber Fountain

There once was a city over one hundred years ago that lost three thousand buildings and thirty percent of its population in one night. Even before this happened, the city was already financially destitute with no viable assets, credit, or even an organized form of tax collection. A group of men stepped forward and promised to renew the shattered city, and the people responded. On the backs of these leaders and the citizens that followed them fearlessly, that city was literally raised to new heights, breaking all previous financial records, astounding a nation, and solidifying its legacy as a city that could survive anything. They accomplished all of this without a dime of federal assistance.

Although this may sound somewhat grandiose by today’s perspective, islanders never forget that the only reason any one of us is even here, residing or relaxing, is because of what those people did. They sacrificed their convenience and their well-being, but they did not sacrifice their integrity. The leaders who emerged out of the devastation of The Great Storm maintained those positions because they did what they said they were going to do.

Currently, Galveston has a mayor and a council in place who, much like the leaders in 1900, were put there for a very specific reason. The election in May of 2012 was an unquestionable, absolute referendum on what the community knew was best, not just for the present but for the future of the city. That future specifically is the subject which is denied over and over within the chamber walls.

We have always been a city that has done things our way, but now it seems we have leaders in place who are willing to sacrifice both the promises they made verbally and in writing, and the future of our city. Their current stance on the public housing agenda tells a very clear story, a story that says that we have nothing left in regards to economy or funding except the scraps dropped from the table of the federal government; scraps that we will only receive if we are obedient.

And to whom exactly do they tell this story? They tell this story to the small business owners who have chosen Galveston as a place to build their dreams; to cutting-edge researchers, who could change the face of modern medicine with one discovery. They tell this to the thriving industry in our harbor and in our port, and to the scores of non-profit organizations dedicated to perpetuating the cultural enrichment of the island.

When we survey the history of our great city, we remember the men and women who believed so much in the “Spirit of the Island,” that they resurged from ultimate devastation to a position more glorious and prominent than they had ever known. So I ask you, esteemed Mayor and Council, when residents of Galveston look back on you in one hundred years, what will they remember? Will they remember your courage, your tenacity, your prevalence in the face of great odds? Ladies and gentlemen, this is our city’s history that you are writing, and in the tradition of all of those Galvestonians that have come before us, you owe it to the citizens of Galveston to stand for what is right for our future, not what is easiest for now. You accepted that responsibility so very graciously when the votes were counted, but now it is your legacy that counts. One way or the other, whether on the books or on the ballot, it will be remembered.

Kimber Fountain is a writer for Island Guide Magazine.

kimber.f@gmail.com, 409.692.9656