A group of over 20 concerned Flour Bluff residents met on Monday, July 25, 2016, at the Janet Harte Library to take the first step to becoming a voice for their community, something all at the meeting agreed has been long in coming. Shirley Thornton, who led the meeting, likened what the group is doing to Benjamin Franklin’s Junto, a civic-minded group whose discussions fostered the creation of the first volunteer fire department and lending library. “We want to work with the city, with the county, and with the state to help make Flour Bluff the best it can be.”
Chad Magill, who is seeking another term as an at-large city councilman and sees Flour Bluff as a “sleeping giant,” congratulated the group on its efforts saying, “I can’t say enough about how excited I am for you to start this process. I did work with the ISAC (Island Strategic Action Committee) on the Island initially to get that off the ground and sat in on some of their meetings. This step forward means a lot to the Bluff and the future of the Bluff.”
Greg Smith, a candidate for the District 4 seat of the Corpus Christi City Council and lifetime resident of Flour Bluff, assisted Thornton in arranging the meeting. He related how he had attended a Padre Island Business Association meeting where four sitting city council members, two county commissioners, the sheriff, the constable, and numerous candidates were present, something that he doesn’t always see at Flour Bluff gatherings. “One difference,” he said, “the Island has a PAC, and they vote with it. Now, let’s put it in perspective. Flour Bluff has 12,000 registered voters; Padre Island has 10,000 registered voters. In the most recent primary, Flour Bluff turned out 3,000 voters; the Island turned out 2,600.” Smith went on to say that there is a perception that Flour Bluff doesn’t vote, which the data shows is not the case. “The Bluff votes, so let’s quit kicking this Flour Bluff can down the road and get something started.” Smith suggested that a PAC for Flour Bluff be established first. (Note: The Island United PAC does not contribute funding as a PAC. They simply formalize the endorsement process and spend their funding on organization, communication, sign printing and placement on the endorsements.)
The first order of business was to settle upon a name for the group. After lots of discussion, the group came up with Flour Bluff Citizens’ Council (FBCC). The group is a grassroots committee representing the Flour Bluff community. The members determined that they have a vision of being “the voice of Flour Bluff” with a mission of “advocating a unified community interest.” Magill explained that to have the ear of City staff and seek an official designation through ordinance as an advisory group to the Council on Flour Bluff affairs, just as ISAC is, a separate SAC (Strategic Action Committee) could be one of the FBCC goals. “That could be the two large goals,” said Magill. “The duality of the strategic action committee and the PAC make a lot happen; they really do.”
The group decided to create a steering committee to drive the direction of the PAC. Everyone agreed that inviting all stakeholders in the community (i.e. residents, faith groups, existing civic clubs and organizations, Flour Bluff ISD, NAS, Flour Bluff Business Association, 4-H) is essential to success. “We need to get a steering committee and bring more people in,” said Smith. He suggested that each person present invite an additional 5 people to attend the next meeting. “The steering committee should make suggestions to the membership, so we need to be as inclusive as possible,” Smith said. The steering committee will be charged with deciding how to select a governing board, electing officers, writing by laws, and growing the membership.
The group discussed possible goals. These included:
- research propositions and candidates to educate the voters
- endorse candidates
- review and revise the 1993 Flour Bluff Area Development Plan
- weigh-in on City infrastructure projects in Flour Bluff area
- clean up and enhance Flour Bluff
- make a great place to live a greater place to live by inviting citizens to get involved in the community
Thornton suggested that the group try to get as many people on board as possible by August 11, 2016, the date of a Flour Bluff town hall meeting to be at the Ethel Eyerly Community Center where Congressman Blake Farenthold is scheduled to speak. The group hopes to increase its general membership at that time so that the voice of Flour Bluff is heard by all.
Thornton closed by thanking all who were in attendance, six of whom are running for office. In addition to Magill and Smith, four other candidates were present at the organizational meeting, three of whom signed on to play roles in the steering committee that will meet for the first time on Monday, August 1, 2016, at 5:45 p.m. at the Janet Harte Library.
“We are gaining momentum, and we don’t want to lose that,” said Thornton. “Look around. We invited a multi-generational group. When those of us who are on the short end of the stick fall off, there will be a group to carry on without losing that momentum. We are doing a good thing, something of which I hope those who came before us and those who come after us will be proud.”
Update: This story has been amended to reflect a clarification that it was Greg Smith, not Chad Magill, who suggested the PAC be developed first.