Fighting back tears, City Councilman Robert Rivera said Tuesday he will not run for re-election after he completes his sixth two-year term next May.
Rivera, who also serves on the Texas Lottery Commission, made the announcement at the end of Tuesday’s evening council meeting.
In an interview before the meeting, Rivera said he made his decision on May 6, 2015, the day his father died. It was just three days before Rivera won his sixth term. He couldn’t back out, he said, and his father had voted early — so it would have felt like quitting on him.
My friends and family and the people of Arlington are what kept me moving forward.
Arlington City Councilman Robert Rivera said in revealing plans not to seek another term
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“So I felt a sense of special commitment to completely fulfill the term,” said Rivera, 45. But he added, “The day he passed away, I decided I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my friends and family.”
“I was extremely depressed for a number of months,” he added. “My friends and family and the people of Arlington are what kept me moving forward.”
Rivera said he has no desire to seek other public office, saying he will continue to serve on the Lottery Commission and to “work very hard daily” on city business.
He broke down at the meeting as he spoke of his father. When he finished, a nearly full house of spectators joined the council and staff in applauding and standing.
“We appreciate your finishing out your term,” Mayor Jeff Williams said. “And we appreciate your service and your passion for the community.”
“Robert has served the city well,” Councilman Charlie Parker added in an interview. “He has been the consummate statesman … and a great colleague. I’m gonna miss him.”
Rivera first ran for council in 1990 when he was 18 years old — the youngest ever to run for the council — campaigning on the idea that the city should buy the Texas Rangers to keep them from leaving. Instead, city voters agreed to help fund a new ballpark, which opened in 1994.
He didn’t win the council seat then, but he did in 2005, and he has been re-elected five consecutive times. And now, he counts the current $1 billion Rangers stadium project — approved by voters on Nov. 8 — as the latest city accomplishment he shares with the council.
He cited several other programs he lobbied for, including the city’s graffiti-cleanup ordinance; the ban on texting while driving in the city; and the elimination of the red-light camera program by public election.
“I feel my work here is now complete,” Rivera said.
Rivera is a former chairman of the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau and was treasurer of the election campaign for public funding to build Cowboys Stadium, now AT&T Stadium.
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