CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In the three-and-a-half years Joe McComb has served as Corpus Christi Mayor, he personally has raised over $1 million for his hometown.
Before he was mayor, he led a project that painted and helped to improve more than 1,000 homes in Corpus Christi. It was called Operation Paint Brush.
He has served in public office for more than 20 years. He's been a city councilman, a county commissioner, mayor; and all while raising a family and running a business. Now, Mayor Joe McComb wants to serve again as your Corpus Christi mayor.
"I just enjoy it," he said.
The family's business was started by his dad 80 years ago. McComb said running a city is like running a business: You must provide great customer service.
"We try and provide that customer service," he said. "Customer service is what people want: police, fire. They want their water to run. Pipes to work."
Joe McComb became mayor in May 2017, and the challenges came quickly. Hurricane Harvey hit less than three months after he took office.
"The deliberations -- do we evacuate, or do we not evacuate?" he said. "And we made the decision not to evacuate based on the information we had. We caught some criticism from that, but it was the right decision."
"Our goal was to have no fatalities as a result of the hurricane, and we didn't have any. We just kept a steady hand in that and gave people confidence that we knew what we were doing and made the right decisions."
McComb helped lead Corpus Christi through Hurricane Hanna this year, but an even biggest challenge was one that was far more difficult to plan for.
"COVID-19 has been the toughest challenge because the hurricane, you know it's coming," he said. "We've been through it before. You don't know whether you have 72 or 48 hours, but you can see it moving around and do your anticipation. You're fighting an invisible battle with COVID-19."
An invisible battle no one could prepare for.
"COVID-19," he said. "It's like you're shadowboxing. You just could never get a hold of it."
The mayor also has personally raised more than $1 million for something he started called the Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund. The money from that relief fund has gone to help people recover from Hurricane Harvey, and this year, to help during COVID-19.
The money was put in the hands of local non-profits, which have helped people here in the community to pay bills and rent. At the start of the pandemic, the relief fund paid to give away hand sanitizer and masks at a time when both were scarce.
McComb knows a thing or two about handling personal tragedy.
"The bigger the crisis seems, [the] calmer I get," he said. "I guess coming off of my personal experience of 2015, I don't know that there can be a bigger crisis."
In 2015, McComb and his family experienced a major flood in Wimberley. His son, daughter in-law, grandchildren, and close friends were swept away in that terrible flood. The only survivor: his son, Jonathan.
The mayor credits the people around him who worked together to help get him through that dark time. When he talks about the city, he talks about working together as a team.
"During this whole pandemic, even up to today, we have not laid any employees off from the city as a result of the pandemic," he said. "We've not laid anybody off, which is very fortunate because they have bills to pay, they've got families to feed and people expect the city to provide services and we have been."
He said one of the top three things he would like to accomplish if re-elected is continuing to fix city roads, and securing an uninterruptible water supply for our city.
"We never want to have to tell industry, or you at the house, that you can't really use water that you need when you have an endless supply sitting right here off of Shoreline Boulevard," he said. "And so the cost has come down tremendously. It is very, very competitive with what it costs now to produce water coming out of our lakes and river. And so the council is moving forward with that project, so that's important."
In fact, if we don't get enough rain in the next few weeks, we will have to go into Stage 1 water restrictions.
"And I don't mean to be facetious, but you can live without oil," he said. "You cannot live without water. Now, it's hard to live as good without oil. I like oil -- don't get me wrong. See, you got to have water. . . . Our droughts are getting longer and more severe. People are needing water."
He said San Antonio, at one time, was totally dependent on the Edwards Aquifer and has spent $2 billion to $3 billion trying to find additional water supplies.
"They're totally dependent on aquifers, which are determined, or refilled, by rain, and rain fills our lakes," he said. "Rain fills aquifers. If you don't have rain, aquifers aren't that good. Lakes dry up. The bay doesn't."
He said desalination, if done in a fiscally and environmentally responsible way is a "home run."
"We've got an unlimited supply," he said. "I think we are setting the trend for the future. I don't know if it will be in my lifetime -- I hope I live long enough to see it, but with all the pipelines we've got in the ground, one of these days I'm predicting that you'll see water from the Gulf of Mexico. I think we are on the cusp of really being the trendsetter and doing this. I hope I live long enough to see it."
The runoff election for the mayors seat, and the city council seats for Districts 1 and 4 is Dec. 15.
Early voting begins Saturday, and runs through Dec. 11.
If you have any questions about voting, you can call the Nueces County Clerk's Office at (361) 888-0580