La Marque’s longest serving mayor won’t seek re-election

By: TJ Aulds
| Published 04/30/2020

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Bobby Hocking, the longest serving mayor in City of La Marque’s history, announced Wednesday he won’t be seeking re-election.

From i45NOW

Hocking, a retired pastor and La Marque native, has been mayor for 9 years. The La Marque mayoral election isn’t until May 2021, but Hocking decided to announce a year in advance that he will finish out this term and retire after 10 years in office.

“No underlying issues, just a prayerful family decision,” Hocking said in a text to i45NOW on Wednesday night.

Hocking came into office after a rocky few years when council and the former Mayor Geraldine Sam and former City Manager Eric Gage were often at odds.

Sam was eventually removed from office in a recall election and Hocking won an election to fill out the rest of her term in 2011.

He was re-elected to full three-year terms in 2012, 2015 and again in 2018.

While there were a few bumps in the road early on in the first couple of years - including some budget woes - Hocking served as a calming voice and sought to be coalition builder.

During his tenure the city made significant improvements to Mac McGaffey Highland Bayou Park, spearheaded a more aggressive economic development approach, pushed for and won support to build a new fire station, guided the city through recovery after Hurricane Harvey and was the influence that created the largest festival in the city, Bayou Fest.

The Bayou Fest free community and music festival features local and national music acts. It was Hocking’s vision to have a free event for residents but also something that would draw crowds to the city.

In the past it included Galveston County native and Urban Cowboy legend Johnny Lee with whom Hocking served as a member of his band.

Long before becoming a man of the cloth Hocking was a well-respected musician and singer who performed at honky-tonks and nightclubs across the state.

“It is with a sense of gratitude for the past and a great sense of hope for the future that I’m announcing that I will not seek re-election in May of 2021,” Hocking wrote in announcing his decision Wednesday night. “ I intend to serve my last and tenth year as mayor of my hometown with everything that is within me.

“I make this announcement at this time to be fair to future candidates so they may have time to plan and prepare. I love La Marque and our citizens. The First Lady and I appreciate all the kindness you have expressed over the years. Peace and blessings be yours.”

La Marque wasn’t his first turn as a Texas mayor. Before moving back to his hometown, Hocking was the mayor of the newly formed Bee Caves, then a small community just outside of Austin.

Hocking said he looks forward to his next year in office saying, “still got a strong year left in me.”

He is the fifth area mayor who won’t be running for re-election next election.

Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough is term limited and can’t seek re-election this year in an election that was to have been this weekend but postponed because of COVID-19.

Mayor Mark Denman of Nassau Bay is also term-limited and will have to serve a few extra months because of the delays on elections.

Texas City Mayor Matt Doyle said that after 16 years in office he’s ready to go and after hearing Yarbrough couldn’t run decided to leave office at the same time.

Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters also announced she won’t be seeking a new term as mayor, and she too has to wait because of COVID-19.