James Holmes

City Secretary Esmeralda Hudson, left, swears in James Holmes on Tuesday as the new Waco city councilman representing District 5. He is joined by his son, Kennedy.

Waco City Council on Tuesday chose James C. Holmes, an investment banking executive, to fill the District 5 council seat recently vacated by Mayor Kyle Deaver.

Holmes was sworn in and seated after a 6-0 vote, which culminated an afternoon of public interviews of nine candidates interested in the one-year term. The district represents West Waco, China Spring and the South Bosque area.

Deaver, who moved up to mayor after the May 7 election, said Holmes impressed the council with his enthusiasm and his financial abilities.

“We felt Jim had the right skill set with all his history running different businesses,” he said.

Holmes, 59, who goes by Jim, said he was surprised by the choice given the strong slate of candidates.

“I’m thankful for your confidence in my ability to do this,” he told the council. “You have all set the bar very high. . . . I won’t let you down. I’m here to work 24/7 to represent District 5.”

Holmes is director and former chief operating officer of Waco-based FirstCity Commercial Corp., which was bought by Trimont Real Estate Services. He is a director of eight other varied businesses in Texas, California, Mexico and Chile.

A native of rural Nebraska, he attended Baylor Law School but dropped out to work at Mbank in 1984, then joined J-Hawk owner Jim Hawkins and others in establishing FirstCity in Waco in 1991.

He has traveled the globe for business and adventure, and he said he is always mindful of his role as an ambassador for Waco. That used to mean educating people about the Branch Davidian catastrophe, but now it means talking about Baylor University’s progress and the Magnolia “Fixer Upper” phenomenon.

“It’s a great thing to be able to talk about Waco as a cool place,” he said in the council interview.

Holmes serves on the board of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and the Waco Symphony Orchestra and is a lay leader at St. Louis Catholic Church. His resume does not include service on city boards and commissions, in contrast with several other candidates.

The list included LaRaine DuPuy, vice chairwoman of the City Plan Commission, as well as attorney Wes Filer and Roger Fuller, both veterans of the Plan Commission and other city boards.

Other candidates were Dr. Brad Holland and Dr. Clay Sawyer, both leaders in the Waco medical community; financial adviser and Waco Aviation Board member Tom Flowers; investor Edward Getterman; and social worker Jennifer Hobbs.

In an interview after the meeting, Holmes said he expects to run again for a full term in next May’s elections.

He said he is looking forward to digging into economic development, especially in downtown.

“I’m very bullish on what’s happening in downtown Waco,” Holmes said. “We went walking around this Saturday from the farmers market to the Texas Ranger Museum. It looks like it’s all ready to build out.”

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