By: Sarah Snyder
The City of Odessa is mourning after the unexpected death of City Councilman Mike Sanchez.
City officials say Sanchez died early Wednesday morning, most likely from a heart attack. Sanchez was the councilman for District five, which was in the West side of Odessa.
He leaves behind two teenage daughters. Back in the summer, we spoke with Councilman Sanchez after he began a project to provide housing to working families in Odessa.
Mayor Larry Melton ordered that all the city flags be flown at half staff in memory of Councilman Sanchez. City leaders say he served on multiple committees, but one of his passions was creating affordable housing. NewsWest 9 shared his story with you last summer, and on Wednesday, NewsWest 9 spoke with city leaders about how they plan to continue his vision for Odessa.
"He's going to be very sorely missed," Mayor Larry Melton said. "We were all stunned."
Mayor Melton tells us Odessa native Michael Sanchez always gave 110%.
"He readily expressed his opinion," Mayor Melton said. "If he didn't agree with something, he expressed that. If he did agree with something, he told us that. He was a very strong advocate for the business community and he's going to be sorely missed."
One of his passions as Councilman was to create affordable housing - something city leaders say is hard to come by.
"There for awhile we were in desperate need of housing, there for awhile we were down to about 78 houses on the market and for a city of 100,000 - that's not many houses," Mayor Melton said.
Back in July, NewsWest 9 had the opportunity to talk with Sanchez who discovered a spot perfect for building homes.
"I just saw some open areas in my district and I just asked questions on who owned it and what we could do," Councilman Mike Sanchez told NewsWest 9 back in July 2008. "And it turns out the city owns this land and its just a matter of getting it re-zoned and have the oil company release it and then we can build homes here, make it a working class neighborhood."
The land on 8th and Coronado in his district already has the infrastructure in place, and Sanchez decided it would be a perfect spot for about 100 new homes.
"I know we're building houses everywhere, but their just not, they're predominantly on the high end, not for the working folks," Sanchez said.
City leaders say they will go forward with Sanchez's plan.
"We're going to continue to build," Mayor Melton said. "So I think we're going to see the housing continue to build up and meet the needs for our community for a long time to come."
Mayor Melton says they'll continue on with the other four members who will make sure District five is well represented until they can hold a special election.