The Houston-Galveston Area Council held its annual meeting on Friday at the Westin Galleria in Houston.
Colorado County Judge Al Jamison, the outgoing chair of the H-GAC, welcomed elected officials from the 13 county region, as well as members of H-GAC committees and related organizations; and introduced H-GAC Executive Director Jack Steele, who reviewed the past year.
Listen: RealPlayer MP3
"The year 2009 was a year of great opportunity and high accomplishment for H-GAC," Steele said. "We built those accomplishments on a foundation of service to the region's local governments."
Steele said services such as the cooperative buying program continued, but recovery from Hurricane Ike and allocation of funding for new transportation projects under the federal stimulus plan were added to the list of responsibilities of the H-GAC.
Texas State Representative Craig Eiland, who was the keynote speaker, administered the oath of office to the incoming H-GAC officers: Vice Chair Deloris Martin, Mayor of Manville; Chair Elect Craig Doyal, Montgomery County Commissioner; and Chair Kerry Neves, Dickinson City Council Member and representive of the 30 home rule cities in the region. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
"We have a challenging year coming," Neves said to the new H-GAC officers and the municipal officials in the room. "We need to work to continue to get that Ike recovery money out, and down to the leaders like you, who know where you need those funds spent and how you need them spent, not directed from somebody up above."
In his speech, Eiland, who is Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives, talked about the challenges facing the legislature. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
"The next legislative session is going to be about the budget and redistricting, and the budget and redistricting," Eiland said. "And those are going to be issues that affect you as well. Texas is the fastest growing state in the United States."
He said that Texas will likely gain four seats in the United States Congress through redistricting.