Licea announces bid for District 4 council seat

Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph Eleno Licea announces his candidacy for Tyler City Council District 4 seat Tuesday morning at the Children's Park in Tyler. Pictured at left are supporters Kara Camp and Hartley Coker, both of Tyler.

Tyler business owner Eleno Licea on Tuesday announced his candidacy for the soon-to-be-vacant District 4 City Council seat.

Licea, who will be 36 on Friday, made the announcement at The Children's Park, surrounded by supporters. The owner of the Licea Insurance Group had served on the Tyler Independent School District since 2009 and announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election to his seat.

The election for both the mayoral and City Council races will be in May. Don Warren, who owns Lomoco, a small oil and gas asset management firm, announced his candidacy for the same seat earlier this month.

"I want to make Tyler a better place for all by providing a much-needed voice for city council," Licea said. He touted his experience in running his business and on his community service on several nonprofit boards, including the Bethesda Health Clinic and the city of Tyler's Planning and Zoning Commission. And he mentioned the successful passage of TISD's $165 million bond election in which he played a role.

"A lot of people focus on the bigger elections such as the presidential election," Licea said. "But it is the elections like the school board and the city council that impact the citizens the most," he said in an interview after his announcement.

He said the city is well run, but there are some areas that could be improved. Specifically, he mentioned the need for the sign ordinance "to be tweaked" a little and that the ordinance should allow more creativity in the use of signage.

Licea also mentioned that more "mom and pop" businesses in northeast Tyler need promotion, and that he would like to see more chain restaurants such as Chili's open up on the northeast side.

"Cities like New York or Austin are set up to promote smaller businesses in certain areas," Licea said.

He encouraged everyone to come out and vote in the upcoming city elections in May, saying that their voices should be heard.

Licea graduated from Tyler Junior College and went on to graduate from The University of Texas at Tyler in 2002 with a degree in communication. He is also a graduate of the MBA's School of Mortgage Banking and holds active real estate, securities and insurance licenses. Licea attends the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and has one daughter, Jazminne.

The current city councilman who represents District 4, Martin Heines, announced his candidacy for mayor in August to replace outgoing Mayor Barbara Bass, who cannot run again because of term limits. Mayor Bass has served in her position since 2008.