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City government shaken up in Robstown

Robstown police chief 0116.JPG
Posted at 9:49 PM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-17 01:32:34-05

Newly elected Robstown Mayor Gilbert Gomez was the leading force behind some striking changes to the city's political and governmental landscape less than a month after taking office.

He won his seat in a runoff election with Mandy Barrera in December.

"Obviously, when you have a big changeover in council members and the mayor, it's because people want change," Gomez said.

The city government emerged from an almost two-and-a-half-hour executive session Thursday night with a very different look.

Residents voted to do away with the ordinance that established a city-manager form of government in November, leaving city manager Herman Rodriguez redundant. That change was made official Thursday night.

On his Facebook page late Thursday, Rodriguez wished the mayor and council blessings for the future.

"I never dreamed that I would grow up and be the first City Manager of my hometown," he said in his post. "I leave the City of Robstown a proud Cotton Picker who left it way better than he found it, and look forward to branding my hometown positively wherever my feet land."

Robstown reverts to having a city secretary-led government, as the city's charter was written, Gomez said, with Gabby Garcia assuming the role of interim for 90 days.

Gomez, who previously worked for the city for 32 years, said the changes were needed in order to take Robstown to the next level.

"The voters spoke," he said. They wanted change. They didn't want things to continue the way they were, but we also believe that we needed some change."

Council member Mary Ann Saenz replaces ousted council member Joey Rodriguez as mayor pro tem; LJA Engineering Vice President Victor Gutierrez replaces Jesus Jimenez as city engineer and Lt. Henrique "Ricky" Paredes Jr. is promoted to police chief, replacing Erasmo Flores.

Robstown Fire Chief and emergency coordinator Richard Gonzalez is one of the few who keeps his position, along with Municipal Court Judge Antonio Gonzalez. Marisa Garcia was appointed municipal court clerk.

Residents KRIS 6 News spoke with are happy with the changes, saying that if some people had to lose their jobs to get Robstown back on track, then so be it.

"Working together we can solve some of those issues and move Robstown in the right direction," Gomez said.

KRIS 6 News anchor/reporter Paulo Salazar contributed to this story.