Monday, April 30, 2012

Who is being recommended for the Woodlands Township Election and References for Resident Consideration

Each year, various Woodlands Township Directors in The Woodlands, Texas will put out their choices for Director positions. I rarely say anything about this, but I believe voters should know who is the favorite in the eyes of the incumbents or those leaving office. Who would they prefer to work with, of those on the ballot? Who would they like to have in their position when they leave office? I will give you what I know plus my own picks below. Updated 5/3/2012 to include my impressions from the debate last night.
Position 1
Incumbent - Claude Hunter wishes to be elected again into this position. He has incredible knowledge and will speak up for what is right. He is a nice fellow who I respect and like, but needs to step down. In my opinion, his time is up. He is unable to effectively bring his view forward, strong enough to be accepted by others on the Board. It is time to find someone else for this position, who not only casts his vote right but stands up to the others and can win support from them for what is right.
ChallengersRichard "Gordy" Bunch, Henrietta Riddiford. Gordy Bunch has achieved a great deal in his business by being prudent and creative. I like his business model and creativity and have been a customer of his for years. Henreitta Riddiford is somewhat known in the community, but in my opinion, not enough to be an effective leader on the Board until she is better known. I will be interested to see her performance at the debate on Wednesday. Hausman Pick: leaning towards Gordy Bunch. Matthews pick: Claude Hunter. Campbell pick: Gordy Bunch. My pick: Gordy Bunch. He is the best equipped to effectively lead this community in this position and can summon strength among his constituents to support him and get the job done right. The question mark is - will he listen to others for guidance on community issues?
Position 2
Incumbent - Tom Campbell, who is stepping down after public service for many years, has been an independent popular conservative thinker, offering bold alternative views of what is required to provide quality public services to residents and businesses.  His views often went unappreciated by other members of the Board, but in my opinion, those views have been excellent when one understands the reasons behind them. Our community missed opportunities just because most of the Board members were clearly against him personally and his conservative perspectives. On debated issues, he often found himself aligned among the Minority Three - Peggy Hausman, Claude Hunter and himself.
Challengers:  Mike Bass and Ted Stanley. Mike has not been here all that long, but his grit and his logical assessments seem always on track. He was on the DSC but recently resigned, standing on principle.  I applaud his grit to stand up for what is right and to do as he says. Don't just talk the walk, but walk the walk. He resigned and now is running from Director to have more influence in the community to make it right. Ted Stanley is a long time resident who has served in many capacities. Although I respect him, I see him acting in the same role as the Foursome. We need individual contributions and aggressive consideration of spending and taxation, like the incumbent Campbell. That role will go unfilled if Ted is elected to this position. Campbell's pick: Mike Bass. Hausman's pick: Mike Bass. Matthews pick: Ted Stanley. My pick: Mike Bass
Position 3  
Incumbent: Lloyd Matthews has been aligned politically over the past few years among the Business-centric Foursome of Ed Robb, Nelda Blair, Bruce Tough and himself. He has at times voted contrary to the Foursome but never in my memory impacted any decisions in doing so.
Challengers: Roland Borey, Jeff Long, Tim Nutt, Margarita Chavez, Jay Mac Sanders. This slate does not seem to have one standout for what is needed in this community. (1) Roland Borey is an unknown to me. It will be interesting to see how he does in the debate. However, I cannot endorse someone I don't know. He has not made a strong campaign, so I consider his presence as a rookie. He has some good ideas, but let's get them out in the open and come back next time as a leader. (2) Jeff Long has led the Board of Directors in the WCA and understands the workings of the government. He is a strong candidate, but has at times limited the role of government to what I believe to be the detriment of the community ("not our job" syndrome). He has the capability to lead the community, but in my opinion needs to listen to residents better. I am on the fence with him and wish I could wholeheartedly endorse him, but cannot at this time. I will be listening to him at the debate on Wednesday. I hope he will have specific remedies and not present us with rhetoric about the obvious, i.e., the municipal issue.(3) Tim Nutt is involved in community activities, but I have seen and heard little of him during the campaign. He seems to be a rookie at governing, although he has lived here for 20 years and has a good reputation in the community. (4) Margarita Chavez is not a viable candidate in this election as far as I can determine. She has not been specific in her goals and has not demonstrated a capability to lead the community. She is a voice of the Latin community, bringing diversity to the table which is certainly needed in The Woodlands. (5) Jay Mac Sanders is back for the second time, looking to be a leader among the community. He has served on the Panther Creek Village Association. Based on my prior knowledge of him and his platform, I cannot currently endorse Jay to serve in this role. Hausman pick: leans toward Tim Nutt, Matthews pick: Jay Mac Sanders, Campbell pick: Jeff Long, My Pick: Roland Borey. I find Roland to be a qualified fresh thinker with great perspectives and a "can do" person.
Position 4
Incumbent - Ed Robb is a vestige of the Town Center (TCID). He is one of the Business-centric Foursome. He does not step up and speak out for the residents, but always plays a supporting role to the staff and other directors. He has stepped up to the plate recently and showed interest in the drought issues of our community, but I do not see a community leader in him. He needs to be voted off the Board of Directors. In my opinion, he has never belonged there as a community leader. He is there as an icon, but we need someone to look out after our interests, both residential and business. I believe he does not have sufficient time necessary to do the job right. He complains that there is too much discussion on issues at Board meetings; I as a resident want discussion and look for proposals to be questioned openly. Open government, open discussion, prudent spending.
Challenger - John Risher is a newcomer on the block, but an old timer in the WCA association. Although the Tea Party endorses him as a conservative, I have some issues with a few of his key doctrines. He has rejected the idea of taxation relief to residents in the form of a Homeowners Exemption and has shown an apparent affinity to the business community. In our community we need improvements. I perceive a frugal person here. The question mark to me is whether he will listen to residents. Lack of evidence on that attribute makes me hold back a bit on him. He criticizes the over-65 tax exemption. His logic is not sound in my opinion, especially in regard to shifting the burden of taxes from residents to the business community. He also does not seem to understand that we have a low tax rate among our peers at this time. Ours includes association fees that other communities have, in addition to municipal taxes. I liked his responses in the debate and have shifted to support his candidacy. Hausman pick: John Risher, Matthews pick: Ed Robb, Campbell pick: John Risher, My pick: lean toward John Risher because we need the fresh ideas and change he would bring. Ed Robb has been in this and a related position (Town Center - TCID) for many years, tending to protect pet projects.
Candidate Websites 
Position 1
Claude Hunter - Website  Facebook
Gordy Bunch   - Website Facebook
Henrietta Riddiford - Website Facebook (none found)
Position 2
Mike Bass - Website Facebook
Ted Stanley - Website Facebook
Position 3
Roland Borey - Website Facebook
Jeff Long - Website Facebook (none found)
Tim Nutt - Website Facebook 
Margarita Chavez  - Website Facebook (none found)
Jay Mac Sanders   - Website Facebook  
Position 4
Ed Robb - Website Facebook
John Risher - Website Facebook

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Woodlands Election Imminent - what to consider

Every year, we elect about half of the Directors for The Woodlands Township. Some of the questions you could ask the candidates are outlined below.

I was asked recently who is in charge of The Woodlands. This stimulated me to act in a rather bazaar manner to this coming election in The Woodlands. I just jotted down some questions that need to be asked. Well, why didn't Randy ask them? Well, not this time. I decided this would be a family focus year and not to spend my time on politics. However, I will write what I have time to do and this is one of those.
As you probably know, I ran for a position a couple of years ago and had many people say they would come to the polls to vote, but did not. Some old timers will tell you that the low turnout we get is what they expect; don’t even bother with those people who did not vote in the last election. Well, I again plea for residents to vote. We need a change of the guard and new keepers of the 83 million dollar money purse of The Woodlands, but in some cases status quo may be desirable. Two incumbents have decided to step down this year, leaving room for at least two new candidates.  For those of us on fixed income, we need to keep our taxes low and living quality up, if we are to stay.

Ask the candidate some tough questions:
  • What is your position for incorporation? Do not accept the answer that residents will vote on it, because some candidates will lead campaigns with their influence to gain a certain outcome that favors their own view. Get the candidate’s view! They want and have the influence to push their personal agendas on us. 
  • Many people rightfully complain about noise in The Woodlands. Find out if your candidate intends to solve the existing problems. Do you hear speeding motorcycles in the middle of the night? I do. I also hear speeding, racing loud muffler cars. The noise echoes in the woods day and night. 
  • Was the tree situation in the drought handled appropriately by the current board? I contend that it fell quite short. There was no disaster plan in place and no means to mitigate the effects of a drought on our most prized assets – our mature trees. This is something the board did not do. Many had the attitude that “nothing can be done” or “it is natural, just let it occur”. We have faced drought for the past decades. Ask them why they have not confronted it and resolved how to fight it. They have all been leaders here for years.
  • If your candidate is an incumbent, ask him/her what he does to understand and act on proposals from the staff. One candidate is rumored to never read the material in advance and also not read his Township email. Some incumbents spend hours reading, contemplating and questioning the proposals. 
  • If your candidate is challenging an incumbent, ask that person what he would have done if he had been there. That does not mean just voting, it means doing! You would surely want a challenger to have been tracking and questioning the business of The Woodlands over the past year, not just jumping in at the last minute like a rookie. He would likely perform like a rookie in that case. 
  • Are you a self thinker and leader, or are you a follower? Do you really listen to constituents or do you allow your personal experiences as a resident or business owner guide you? 
  • What is more important – quality of life or taxation rate? 
  • Does every resident in The Woodlands have the right to the same quality life as provided by taxation dollars of the Township? 
  • Do you support equal treatment of both resident and homeowner? Some homeowners are investors, owning property to rent out to others. Those of us who seek quality of living are not exactly happy that non-residents make money off our work while we pay and work to make the community better. It is rare to see renters contribute to the community. 
  • How does the candidate feel about business vs. resident taxes? Hopefully, those elected will have a balanced view. Consideration goes beyond this however. For example, one candidate believes if we have resident homestead tax relief, that businesses would have to fork out more tax money. I believe not. Prudent spending and business management is the way to keep both business and residential taxes down. The reason for resident tax relief is to encourage home ownership instead of making a business from renting homes. Get residential taxes as low as possible to make homes more affordable to live in. Well, that is one my personal agenda items, but an example of what to think and act on at the polls.
  • If we suddenly had a large sum of money to spend on The Woodlands, where would you want to spend it?
  • If you had to cut spending dramatically, say by 20%, where would you cut? Don't let the candidate deny that it is possible. Assume a tough situation and get an answer. One of the problems with many politicians, they seem to want to paint rosy pictures and deny possibilities. Those able to prioritize and communicate are more apt to be able to make logical decisions. The answer to questions such as this will often reveal the insights and values of the candidate.