By STEFAN MODRICH
There’s one thing both candidates for Missouri City’s At-Large Position 2 City Council seat agree on: Neither is taking anything for granted — even the fact that there is a runoff election going on, with voter fatigue setting in for some ahead of the Dec. 12 runoff.
Chris Preston, the incumbent councilman, said he has been actively answering questions from residents to inform them that the tumultuous election cycle that began in October with early voting for the Nov. 3 general election in Texas is still ongoing.
“It has been really surprising that a lot of people are unaware that (the runoff) is actually taking place right now,” Preston said. “And that’s concerning, right? Because Election Day is this coming Saturday. And we just want to make sure, especially in the midst of all of the issues that we’ve been faced with during this runoff election, we want to make sure that people are able to exercise their right to vote.”
In the general election, Preston’s challenger, Lynn Clouser, beat him 47 percent to 42 percent, or 13,332 votes to 11,945.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” Clouser said. “Yes, I was the frontrunner. But remember, everything starts over from scratch. So I’m pushing, I’m pushing hard. But I feel good that our campaign is sticking with the facts, we’re sticking with our platform. And we’re keeping things positive. And we’re connecting with voters. So on that I’m very, very proud.”
Both candidates will be looking to pick up voters who on Nov. 3 chose challenger James Mable, the third-place candidate whose 10.75 percent of the vote, or 3,046 votes, could swing the election.
Preston, Missouri City’s Mayor Pro Tempore, is running for his fourth term on city council.
Asked what he had learned and if there was anything he would do differently based on the results of the general election, Preston said he has made an effort to improve voter outreach.
“The reset button was hit,” Preston said. “And we just want to continue to just get our message out. We will, we’ve been enhancing our efforts, just getting out and talking to voters directly reaching them in various capacities. And that’s what we want to continue to do.”
He posted a Dec. 1 video with actor and Elkins High School alumnus Kendrick Sampson, one of the stars of the HBO series “Insecure.”
“One thing that Kendrick is very big on is getting people to participate in, you know, exercise in the franchise, making sure that they both participate and have their voices heard,” Preston said. “You know, he has a large platform, especially with the younger demographic. And it was very nice of him to come home and encourage people to get out and vote again. He (also) came out during the general election.”
Preston has also been endorsed by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Clouser has picked up endorsements from several Missouri City pastors, including Dennis W. Young of Missouri City Baptist Church, Bishop Destry Bell of Christ Temple of Deliverance, Hughes Jenkins of New Abundant Life Church, Bishop Allen Rice of Together We Stand Christian Church, Rudolph White Jr. of Christian Bible Church, and David Sincere Jr. of Sienna Baptist Church.
She also received the support of Sie Allen of Houston’s New Direction Community of Love Church, and Robert Childress of Covenant Glen United Methodist Church in Rosharon.
Clouser said many local organizations or institutions “have a friendly incumbent rule” that makes them less likely to support a challenger, but she was glad to have earned the support of those who shared her view for a needed change.
“The endorsement world, having a seat at the table with the organizations that are within our city is vital,” Clouser said. “It’s something that had not happened before. So it gave those organizations that opportunity to actually sit down with someone who expressed an interest, a very serious interest in wanting to partner for the betterment of our community. And I was very honored that some of them did go against the incumbent because they want change.”
Clouser said Preston’s supporters have unfairly mischaracterized her as a Republican and a supporter of President Donald Trump because she has appealed to Republicans and independents. She maintains she is a Democrat and said city elections should be nonpartisan.
She said she was motivated to run after the firing of former City Manager Anthony Snipes, and she said she has received the support of former Mayor Alan Owen, a Republican, and former Councilman Don Smith, a Democrat.
“My opponent and I belong to the same party,” Clouser said. “And I never wanted to make this about party affiliation. But unfortunately, the narrative is trying to be spun. And I want to tell that story myself. And that is that I operate in integrity. I always have and always will, I will always take the high road.”
Preston said he has placed an emphasis on running a positive campaign.
“This is one of, if not the most important city election, in our city’s history,” Preston said. “(Voters) really can determine the future of Missouri City. I am so honored to have served this community. Alexandria, my wife, and I would be so honored to continue serving this community that raised us. We honestly, sincerely believe our best days are ahead of us.”
Ford faces challenge from Elackatt
Robin Elackatt has six years of experience serving on Missouri City’s city council.
He’s challenging incumbent Mayor Yolanda Ford, who is looking to win her second term. She unseated longtime Mayor Alan Owen in 2018 and received 48.6 percent of the vote Nov. 3, while Elackatt placed second in the general election with 31.9 percent.
“I mean, this is a new election, right? None of the old numbers or none of that matters,” Elackatt said. “So, I mean, for me, personally, I’m feeling good. And I know the people are going to come out.”
Ford did not respond to interview requests by phone or email.
Elackatt has criticized the mayor for what he called a lack of transparency and accessibility and an inability to unify a divided council.
“One of the things I hear is that people don’t know her,” Elackatt said. “She could be standing next to them and they would not know that she’s the mayor. She’s not visible enough in the community. She doesn’t cross over (FM 2234) and come to Highway 6, to any HOA meetings.”
During Ford’s first term, the city council voted to approve Missouri City’s first property tax reduction since 2013. Her campaign website lists “improved financial controls,” the installation of citywide WiFi, “comprehensive citywide economic development” redevelopment of major corridors such as Texas Parkway and Cartwright Road, and and as future priorities.
Elackatt said change is needed in the city government to allow for progress in long-planned and talked about projects like revitalizing Texas Parkway, saying that whoever wins will need to immediately address the issue instead of allowing it to become a recurring campaign topic.
“If I get elected, I want to go back in and look at all of the stuff that (Ford) is talking about, especially around being fiscally responsible and responsive,” Elackatt said. “I don’t think anybody at Texas Parkway would come back and say that within two years, ‘I was hoping for it to be looking like The Galleria.’ People know that. That’s not practical. That’s not going to happen. But what needs to happen is you’ve got to have somebody to start this project. And if elected, I will start that process of making sure that these hard discussions are happening.”