When Mayor Cindy Siegel hands over her gavel on Jan. 9, she’ll leave office thinking that she left Bellaire better than when she got it.
“I think we have made it a better place to live,” she said, noting improvements in streets, drainage and city facilities. “We’ve taken something that’s really good and made it better.”
Siegel said she hopes residents will feel the same way and knows that there are always things that need to be improved.
Siegel is term limited and will leave office next week after serving eight years as the mayor of Bellaire.
Prior to being elected as mayor, she served on city council since 1998 and served on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
Her first experience with city government was attending a joint public hearing with council and the PZC regarding town homes being built in the city.
“This is what democracy is all about,” she said about attending the meeting. “It was neat to see the government at work, the process.”
Siegel was pregnant with her daughter Jenny when she was appointed to the parks board and was pregnant with her daughter Lauren when she started campaigning for city council.
“When you live in Bellaire you can be as involved as you want to be,” she said. “It’s a great way to be a part of the community.”
Two of the most “intensely challenging” experiences for Siegel were the police shooting of Bellaire resident Robbie Tolan and losing several seniors in a “gut wrenching” fatal bus fire.
On a daily basis, knowing that she couldn’t always please everyone and dealing with criticism was challenging.
Siegel said her husband Bob always told her that in the big scheme of things it didn’t matter.
Siegel says she’s really blessed and that even in the darkest times she would get an e-mail or letter from residents she did and didn’t know who were thinking of her and telling her she was doing a good job.
“I had people believing in me, saying ‘you can do it,’” she said. “It’s amazing how much that helped.”
One thing Siegel says she wished she could have accomplished during her time on council was jump starting the downtown area more.
“I wish we could have done more there,” she said. “The economy worked against us. It’s a tough nut to crack.”
Siegel said the downtown area and replacing the police and municipal courts building and city hall are the next big things for city council to tackle.
Siegel’s term on the Evelyn’s Park Conservancy will be up for reappointment in June and she said she would like to be reappointed.
Siegel will also continue her involvement on the Julia C. Hester House Board of Directors, the Senior Resource Guide Board of Directors and Patrons for Bellaire Parks. She is also involved in the Republican Party and would like to start singing in her church choir.
At this point, Siegel says she wouldn’t run for mayor or council again.
“It’s important to let other people have their turn,” she said.
People keep asking her if she’ll be sad when she steps down as mayor, but Siegel says that she wants to be there for her girls and is sad that her eldest daughter will be leaving home and going off to college.
“It will hit me, but I really don’t think I’ll be sad,” she said, adding that it is a good change for her and the city.
Siegel has lived in Bellaire for 20 years and has lived in the Houston area since 1978.
“People truly love Bellaire. That’s what makes it unique,” she said. “It’s a good place to call home.”