By STEFAN MODRICH
While Stafford Mayor-elect Cecil Willis and recently re-elected City Councilmen Don Jones and Ken Mathew have not yet been sworn in to begin their new terms, the 2021 election cycle is already in motion.
A special election to fill Willis’ vacated seat on the council, Position 5, has been scheduled for Feb. 20. Filing opened Dec. 14 and the last day to file is Jan. 11.
Stafford City Secretary Tomika Lewis wrote in an email Dec. 16 that Tom Virippan and Xavier Herrera had filed to run for Position 5.
Herrera, a Stafford MSD board member since 2015, announced his candidacy back on July 22 in a Facebook post on a newly-created campaign page.
Herrera is the communications director for Fort Bend County Judge KP George, a position he began in January 2019. Prior to that, he worked for the Harris County District Clerk’s office, where he dealt with public affairs, legislative affairs and community outreach for four years.
The University of Houston alumnus also spent a year in the office of the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector as a community outreach manager and six years working for the City of Houston as an office manager and city community liaison.
Virippan also has a background in education, as a former teacher and principal. with master’s degrees in education, economics and world history, according to his campaign website.
Most recently, Virippan lost his election as the Republican challenger to incumbent State Rep. Ron Reynolds for the House District 27 seat.
The length of a Stafford City Council member term is three years, and members may not serve more than four consecutive terms.
Willis had planned to run for re-election in Position 5 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic’s spread to the U.S. and prior to the death of former Mayor Leonard Scarcella in June. Scarcella’s term was not set to expire until 2023.
On May 1, council members Alice Chen and Wen Guerra will be up for re-election for Position 1 and Position 2, respectively.