By Betsy Dolan
Two incumbent city councilmen in Missouri City are hoping to hang onto their seats for another term as early voting for the May 11 election got underway April 29.
District A Councilman, Bobby Marshall, a local businessman, is facing Yolanda Ford, an urban planner and architectural designer; and Rodney Griffin, a retired insurance broker, who ran against Marshall in 2009.
District B Councilman, Don Smith, a retired businessman and veteran will square off against local businessman, Henderson James Hunter, Jr. who served on the city’s parks board for 11 years.
Robin Elackatt and Floyd Emery in Districts C and D, respectively, are running unopposed.
Missouri City residents will also be voting on 15 charter amendment propositions.
District A Race
Q: What are your priorities for Missouri City?
Marshall: Public safety and smart economic development. I am proud that our police and fire departments are now fully staffed. I want to make sure we are bringing the services that people need to the residential areas but also attracting large companies to our business parks so that we can ease the tax burden on our residents. We also have aging infrastructure like drainage, streets and sidewalks that need attention in some of our older areas.
Ford: I believe the inability for leadership to collectively grow the City is the most pressing issue.My intent is to propose a substantial economic development plan that will jointly grow the city. This development plan will take a methodological approach and seek residents for their input and ideas. It will improve property values, increase sales tax revenue, create jobs, businesses and retail locations along major corridors so that our city is a safe, vivacious community for everyone to enjoy.
Griffin: Texas Parkway, which is the gateway to Missouri City, needs proper attention and funds. How it is perceived determines whether businesses stay and whether businesses want to move in. Missouri City needs to have its own identity and Texas Parkway has to be a part of that discussion. We have so many advantages and we have the capability to make Missouri City a destination city but we can’t focus on certain areas while we neglect others. It is time to start thinking city wide.
Q: The city took some heat over the proposed emergency services fee. Do you support or oppose this measure?
Ford: I am not an advocate of this program. I don’t believe that residents or their insurance companies should be exploited to raise funds during a misfortunate incident. Now, what does concern me is why political officials for the City of Missouri City are taking such drastic measures to raise funds for basic communal services. The City has repeatedly stated how well we have performed financially so I think it is time for more residents to investigate why their local taxes aren’t covering basic city services.
Griffin: The emergency services fee made us the laughing stock of the world. The council wants to exploit our residents to pay for services that their tax dollars already pay for. If I am elected, getting rid of that ordinance would be one of the first things I would fight for.
Marshall: We didn’t present this to the public in the right way but I think the cooling off period has been a chance for residents to learn about the ordinance and to understand it a little better. Sometimes our fire crews have to respond to incidents like hazardous materials spills and the cost for clean-up is above what taxpayers should have to pay. I think it is a good idea for the city to try and recoup some of the costs from insurance companies. If we can’t recoup those costs, we’ll drop the issue.
District B Race
Q: What are the issues most important to Missouri City?
Smith: I want to see more officers on the streets and to make sure that they are competitive in their field with salaries and training and equipment. I don’t want them working for Missouri City and then leaving after a couple of years. We have aging infrastructure that needs attention. Texas Parkway needs more attention and more emphasis and TxDOT is finally stepping up. I want to make it more attractive to businesses who will move in and provide services that our residents want.
Henderson: We are not going to be Sugar Land or the Woodlands but we can have our own distinct identity. Certain areas in the city have been ignored and I think that every Missouri City resident wants quality of life things like nice streets and sidewalks. I’m conflicted about Texas Parkway. Something needs to be done but I’m not sure the area has enough population to make it attractive to businesses. I think they could do some landscaping like planting flowering trees, to make it look more attractive and it would slow down the decline. I also support term limits.
Smith: If I am re-elected, I will continue to work on the major renovation of city hall because it needs to be a focal point that citizens can be proud of. I am also on a committee working to put a Veterans Memorial in one of two parks.
Henderson: I want to improve the appearance of FM 2234 and Cartwright. You get the impression that it is a high crime area but crime in District B is down. I also do not support the emergency services fee that the city imposed. If an accident involves a large tanker truck or semi it is fine for the city to recoup those costs from the business but not from a typical vehicle accident.