Bellaire city council candidates prepare for November 2 elections

Bellaire’s upcoming town council election features seven candidates vying for three council seats, while outgoing mayor Andrew Friedberg is running for unopposed re-election for his fourth two-year term.

Current mayor Pro Tem Gus Pappas and council members Neil Verma and Michael Fife will not be running for the three council positions for re-election.

The last day to register to vote in the elections is Monday, October 4. Early in-person voting begins Monday October 18 and ends Friday October 29. Polling stations will be announced once they are obtained by Harris County. The last day to request a postal ballot is Friday, October 22.

For more information on voting, visit harrisvotes.com.

The Chronicle asked the seven board members to provide a short bio and answer three questions. Below are their submissions by post to the board they are running for.


biography


Station 1:

Winfred Frazier

Winfred Frazier has lived in Bellaire for 31 years. Married with two grown children. Retired Vice President of Walt Disney Corporation. Active member of the Bellaire community having served on numerous boards and commissions.

Kevin newman

Graduated from Lycée Bellaire and never left. Owner since 1997. Former vice-president of the municipal council of BLIFE Bellaire. Founder of the Bellaire Small Business Association. Owner of the Bellaire company since 1999.


Station 3:

Ross gordon

Ross Gordon is a young parent (two young children), a professional engineer and a certified floodplain manager who has served with integrity as chair of the Bellaire Planning and Zoning Commission for the past four years.

Javier Vega

I attended US Naval Academy (Annapolis), hold an MBA from UT Austin, past Reliant Branch President, Founder of Amigo Energy and COO of RPower. I live on the most flood-prone street in Bellaire, the floods are real here.


Station 5:

Andrea Ehlers

Bellaire resident for 32 years, with BA in Rice & MBA from St. Thomas University. I am wife, mother, sister, friend, neighbor and volunteer. She is a certified technology project manager and human resources professional.

David Montalvo

I am a student at the University of Houston pursuing a Masters in Network Communications Engineering Technology. My bachelor’s degree is in computer information systems from the same college.

Brian witt

Brian is a graduate of Episcopal High School and Trinity University. He spent 20 years working in finance. He served on the Bellaire Environmental Sustainability Council for over 4 years and is active in Rotary and Bellaire Little League.


Question 1: Is the city too much in debt? If so, what should the city do?

Frazier: Bellaire benefits from an AAA bond rating, with healthy fund reserves. Bellaire’s debt was a general obligation debt requiring voter approval to make infrastructure improvements. Before new debt is assumed, Bellaire’s detailed capital improvement plan would include infrastructure costs; current tax base; and proportional costs to maintain our infrastructure.

New man: Yes. Wasteful spending plagued this city for years. The bloated staff, salaries and poor spending choices of municipal staff have increased the City’s budget every year. We need to cut back on fat, save for future capital spending, and create a surplus to pay down debt. We need a businessman on the board!

Gordon: Debt is rightly a constant concern. But it should not be used to justify opposing expenses that are essential to maintaining the attractiveness (and property values) of our city. It is fiscally irresponsible to allow our services to be cut or fall further behind our flood / infrastructure issues.

Vega: Yes. Bellaire has approximately $ 110 million in debt. Half of the income goes to servicing the debt. By demanding efficiency and above all by encouraging results, we will redirect significant revenues to accelerate debt repayment and find liquidity to finance worthy projects. We just need the business skills of the board to do the turnaround.

Ehlers: City debt consumes almost 50 percent of annual tax revenue. Bellaire must focus on maximizing revenues and minimizing expenses. Under the direction of an invigorated city council, city staff could increase revenues from existing infrastructure and services.

Montalvo: Yes. Bellaire should not undertake costly projects that do not serve the common good. Costs and funds must be properly allocated and expenses must be brought under control. In addition, raising property taxes to pay off debt can hurt long-term residents.

Spirit : Debt management is important. A large majority of our debt comes from voter-approved bonds that deal with floods, streets and water pipes. The city should spend money wisely, but not be afraid to fund projects (especially at these low rates) that help reduce flooding or improve our quality of life.


Question 2: What is your opinion on how the city can mitigate flooding in the area in the short term?

Frazier: The Bellaire Drainage Master Plan will allow Bellaire to pursue regional opportunities to provide the most effective protection against our most severe flood risks is our primary goal and a priority of our Citizen Flood Mitigation Working Group. Stormwater flow assessment under certain storm conditions in Bellaire and Brays Bayou.

New man: Noah was the only one who could really get through the flood. The overbuilding upstream and the lack of downstream discharge prove that there is no short-term relief. The long-term plans proposed by Bellaire cannot resolve the overbuilding in Houston, Katy and surrounding areas. Spend the money to raise our houses.

Gordon: Repetitive flooding is an existential challenge that erodes our attractiveness and our real estate values. We must immediately deliver Phase 1 of the MDCP (Cypress Ditch), in partnership with HUD / CDBG and HCFCD, while finalizing a workable plan to make significant progress on our broader flood risk reduction targets, building on external funding available.

Vega: Keep it simple now. We need water retention efforts in everything we do: parks, new constructions; even programs that encourage detention on existing properties. We need to remove the identified barriers to slick flow over land. At a minimum of $ 300 million, the proposed city-wide engineering solutions would triple our debt service, even after the subsidies.

Ehlers: The fight against floods in Bellaire can be successful with a City-Owner partnership. First, all new construction must include both absorption and holding. It can start almost immediately. The current plan favored by the City will have little or no impact on the most flood-prone areas.

Montalvo: One solution is to plant more trees, as they slow the flow of water. More trees could be included in park maintenance plans. If necessary, updating sidewalks and parking lots with a permeable pavement is another way. It allows water to move across the surface instead of going down the drain.

Spirit : We need to build new homes that meet or exceed the requirements of our Flood Plains Ordinance, properly clean and maintain our existing drainage system, and immediately launch Phase 1 of the Drainage Master Plan in partnership with Harris County and the City. from Houston.


Question 3: Bellaire is known as a “city of homes”. Today we see examples of new commercial construction in the city. As a candidate, would you work to continue to make Bellaire a “City of Foyers?

Frazier: I believe in protecting the character of the Cité des Foyers, but not at the expense of the quality of life of those who live there. I will focus on balancing resident needs and services while maintaining the small town vibe that makes Bellaire wonderful.

New man: In order to maintain the high levels of service residents are accustomed to, the City needs money. Expecting residential property taxes to rise cannot be the only source of revenue. A balance between commercial and residential is essential. No over-construction, no more HEB zero lot line. No apartments.

Gordon: Bellaire is a residential town with strong zoning; we will always be the “City of Homes”, but needs change over time and our families want closer access to services and amenities. Through responsible development, in designated commercial zones, we can meet these needs and reduce our residential tax burden.

Vega: Bellaire must protect his Cité des Foyers. I am against residential to commercial conversions; categorical “no”. With 4301 Bellaire, the developers cited the proximity of 4301 to 16 condos owned by Bellaire to explain why 4301 was not “suitable” for residential; called it a “marginal property”. Unfortunately, my opponent voted FOR the developer’s conversion proposal.

Ehlers: We are absolutely a city of homes, family and friends! My first step will be to bring back our City of Homes brand image so that we can promote and capitalize on our greatest strength. Next, we must ensure that our zoning ordinances are enforced to promote residential growth and appropriate business development.

Montalvo: Absoutely. Bellaire is basically a family community. I want residents to know that the council is there to listen to their concerns. As a member of council, I will work to pass ordinances that will keep Bellaire safe and benefit the well-being of its citizens.

Spirit : Bellaire is a “city of homes”, but many residents want more opportunities to spend their money in Bellaire. By working together, we can bring businesses to the city without sacrificing the quality of life for those living nearby while reducing our reliance on property taxes to fund the budget.

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