First woman mayor embraces the challenge
Posted by : May 20, 2013| On :
The Monitor Correspondent
KEMP–It apparently took a crisis to shake residents out of their complacency and to make them realize their town could die in ruin if everyone didn’t get to work on saving it.
That’s the view of Kemp’s new mayor, Laura Hanna Peace, a fifth-generation resident of the 1,154-population town and the first woman to ever lead it. She notes it took the loss of water service to Kemp during the devastating drought two years ago to “galvanize a lot of people,” herself included.
“We had all relied on a few people to carry the ball in the past,” Peace said. “I think the crisis situation got through to everyone that we all had to pay more attention.”
Peace said that although she is a native and has owned property in Kemp for 20 years, she seldom attended city council meetings or got involved. She since has served on the council for one year, and voters elected her mayor over the incumbent, Donald Kile on May 11.
Peace is the Kaufman County chief juvenile probation officer, and she has worked for the county for 20 years. She graduated from Kemp High School, and she received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Texas Woman’s University in Denton.
Peace said her first short-term goal is to get the water system stable, an effort that appears to be well on its way to accomplishment with the city’s planned connection to the West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District.
“Any other growth in the city depends solely on that,” Peace said. “We can’t do anything without that happening first.”
Her biggest, long-term goal for the city is to attract a new business that will create at least 100 new jobs, Peace said. To accomplish that, the new mayor said she plans to work with city staff, other council members, the Kemp Economic Development Corp., the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and other civic leaders to help develop a new, more progressive vision for Kemp.
“I don’t know exactly how to get there, but I know other people in similar situations have been able to do it so I know we can too,” Peace said.
Peace said she hopes that all citizens will think about what roles they can play in helping Kemp prosper. She said that all of the people who came before the current generation of leaders laid the groundwork, and it is now time for new leaders to continue the work of guaranteeing Kemp’s future.
Peace said she would never criticize the people who came before her, and that she would never want to insinuate that she alone could guide the city to a more progressive future. It will always require people working together on a common goal to succeed, she said.
“This is a very serious job, and I will give it my all,” Peace said after her swearing in ceremony. “I am humbled by the opportunity.”