A guide to local city and school board elections
By Theresa D. McClellan
for the fort bend star
With municipal and school board elections less than a month away, here is a rundown of the players and their issues.
Dates to remember:
April 25 to May 3: Early voting period at any of the 18 early voting polling locations including: Sugar Land City Hall, Missouri City Community Center, Fort Bend County Rosenberg Annex, Fort Bend County Road & Bridge in Needville, Bowie Middle School in Richmond and the Cisco Ranch Branch Library in Katy. See the county website www.fortbendcountytx.gov for all the early polling places.
April 26: Last day to apply for ballot by mail
May 7: Last day to receive ballot by mail
May 7: General and special election 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
May 24: Runoff elections between House District 27 State Rep. Ron Reynolds (D) and challenger Angelique Bartholomew (D)
Fort Bend ISD:
Five candidates vying for one Position 7 trustee seat
– James Davidson, 30, project manager
– Sonja Nelson Leonard, 55, speech therapist
– Laura Ramirez,41, Human Resources Director in Alief ISD
– Dave Rosenthal, 54, geophysicist and incumbent seeking second full term.
– Dr. Shirley Rose-Gilliam, 52, principal in Houston ISD
– Incumbent Mayor Allen Owen, 72, retired bank executive
– Challenger Fred Taylor, 48, small business owner
At-Large Council Member Position 1:
– Jerry Wyatt, 68-year-old retired hospital administrator is an incumbent who served 30 years on the council. He has made a campaign issue of the fact that challenger Pernell Davis does not own a home in Missouri City.
– Challenger Pernell Davis, 30, private security executive who emphasizes the issue of increasing economic development in Missouri City.
At-Large Council Member Position 2:
– Incumbent Chris Preston, 30, business owner seeking second term.
– Challenger Cynthia L. Gary, 57, educator, former Missouri City Council member who also sat on the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees.
– Challenger Susan Soto, 48, attorney, Soto was a part of a team of attorneys that filed suit against the FBISD in a non-monetary class action civil lawsuit relating to truancy in Fort Bend ISD and Fort Bend County.
If none of the three candidates gets 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff election in June.
Incumbent Mayor Jimmy Thompson is term limited in May.
– Myatt Hancock 65, mortgage banker
– Harish Jajoo, 61, current council member
– Sarwar Khan, 62, car sales representative
– Kyle Stanley, 30, logistics analyst
– Joe Zimmerman, 62, current council member
At Large Position 1:
– Himesh Gandhi, 39, attorney and two-term incumbent
– Challenger Diana Miller, 60, real estate agent and the leader of Sugar Land Votes.
At Large Position 2:
– Ron Block, 72, attorney
– Mary Joyce, 56, retired corporate manager
– Naomi Lam, 72, real estate investor and former FBISD trustee
– Peter Simons, 55, former manager of the Sugar Land Regional Airport
Challengers Hancock, Miller and Lam are running on the “Sugar Land Votes” alliance which opposes what they call “misleading and confusing” propositions on the ballot which they say “restricts the public’s right to know and right to petition.” The alliance also emphasizes limiting the number of apartments in the city.
Sugar Land has eight propositions to change the city charter. They are asking voters to look at increasing the length of time that offices can be held and to reconsider term limits. They want clarification on city council duties and the most controversial, Propositions 7 and 8 want to change the number of petition signatures needed to bring an initiative or referendum.
Sugar Land has 53,345 registered voters. In the last citywide election of 2012, less than 10 percent or 4,928 people voted, according to Fort Bend County Elections Administrator John Oldham. In the citywide election of 2013 concerning a charter change, 6,845 voters, or a little over 13 percent participated in the election.
“A 10 percent turnout in a city election is considered good,” said Oldham.
If Proposal 7 passes anyone wanting to bring an initiative or referendum to the ballot would need at least 8,000 signatures. Currently less than 2,100 petition signatures are needed.
For Proposition 8 the number of signatures needed to recall the mayor or at-large council member would drop from 25 percent to 15 percent of registered voters.
City of Richmond
The city of Richmond has five proposals on the ballot including increasing the number of commissioners seats from 2 to 4 and increasing the number of required signatures for initiatives. They are also asking voters if the city should be required to make the full audit available to the public instead of the annual summary.
Three candidates are vying for one Richmond City Commissioner seat.
– Barry Beard who was recently appointed by the city in February to serve on the Development Corporation of Richmond board. Beard, a senior vice president of Moody National Bank, serves as the chairman of the Oak Bend Medical Center and is on the board of a number of local number of local business and community groups.
– Tres Davis, 48, a former Lamar CISD teacher and 10-year Richmond resident who frequently challenges the city on “transparency issues” is making his second bid for a commission seat. Davis is the one who gathered the signatures to put the charter questions on the ballot.
– Carlos Garcia, 58, a small business owner, is making his third run at the city commission seat. He said he supports the referendums to increase from two to four the number of commissioners and he supports three-year term limits. He also supports the North 10th Overpass Project as he said it will provide future economic development.