By Landan Kuhlmann
Leonard Scarcella has led Stafford on its winding journey for the last five decades.
A.J. Honore is looking to take down a political giant.
Scarcella, a lifelong resident and Stafford’s mayor since 1969, and Honore, a three-year member of Stafford’s city council who has lived in Stafford for 33 years, will face off at the polls on May 4 in what could be a historic local election.
During his 50 years in office, Scarcella has led Stafford through many evolutionary actions, such as abolishing the city property tax – making Stafford the largest city in Texas without one – and creating the Stafford Municipal School District, the only breakaway school district in the nation to gain federal court approval and the only municipal school district in Texas.
He also helped plan and develop the Stafford Centre, a unique entertainment and cultural complex.
“Mayor Scarcella is a leader of conviction and vision, with accomplishments though bold actions which have brought many impressive benefits for Stafford families and taxpayers,” his campaign website reads.
However, Honore believes it’s time for change, citing decade-long flat city revenues, a drop in the general fund balance from $10 million to under $2 million last year, and a budget crisis he said puts the city’s zero property tax status at risk.
“I respect and appreciate the 50 years of service from Mr. Scarcella. He has several major accomplishments that we should all be proud of,” Honore said. “(But) in recent years he has lost the ability to adapt our local government to the needs of the current times we are living in.”
On the other hand, Scarcella believes that developments such as the Stafford Centre, plans for the revitalization of FM 1092 and more prove the opposite has happened. And it’s that improvement he pledges to continue prioritizing if he wins re-election.
“Change is inevitable, and done properly by those with well-intentioned motivations, it is to be embraced,” his campaign website reads. “Under my leadership, Stafford has long been recognized as being far ahead of the curve with ingenious and unique achievements, as those cited, while being fiscally responsible, thus assuring our citizens and businesses the ability to keep more of their money than any other city.”
Honore, a 20-year entrepreneur and private business owner who now serves as the managing director for Engreen Power & Light, cited using his business experience to bring a major grocery store to Stafford and continuing to advocate for economic development projects like The Grid, which he said will expand Stafford’s sales tax and revenue base.
“We need active leadership that understands Stafford is over built with warehouses and has a plan to grow smart with the limited land we have to develop or re-develop,” Honore said.
In his campaign for re-election, Scarcella’s primary pledges, according to the campaign website, are maintaining the city’s zero property tax status, continuing the enhancement of city services, and involving all races and cultures of Stafford’s diverse population in “continuing an honest, transparent operation of our government, and endeavoring to entice all Stafford children to attend SMSD.”
“With Mayor Scarcella continuing to represent you at City Hall, Stafford residents can have confidence he will assert a firm course to make Stafford a great place to raise a family and grow a business,” his website reads.
Along with maintaining the zero tax property status, bringing a major grocery store and supporting developments like The Grid, key aspects of Honore’s campaign include upgrading overlooked open ditch neighborhoods, revising zoning ordinances and creating a Youth Enrichment and Jobs program.
He also plans to rescind all gag orders during city council meetings, develop a process improvement team to review every job function and implement smart city technology to improve the experience for residents and those that do business with Stafford, and prioritize the city’s expanded funding for public safety.
“Providence has prepared me to lead Stafford through this challenging time without compromising the mid-century small-town environment that keeps me and many others in Stafford,” Honore said.
To learn more about Honore and his campaign, visit honore4zero.com/.
For more information on Scarcella’s re-election bid, visit scarcellaformayor.com/.