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. 

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