Bellaire Voter Guide 2019: City Council Position 2 candidates

Bellaire residents will vote between two candidates for City Council Position 2 in November, including incumbent Trisha Pollard and opponent Catherine Lewis.

Community Impact Newspaper sends out questions to candidates ahead of local elections and publishes their responses. For fairness, each candidate is asked the same questions and given a word limit to answer each question. Answers, if needed, are edited for length, spelling and grammar.

The candidates

Trisha Pollard
Occupation and experience:
Retired Gas P/L Attorney; Partner & General Manager of Pollard Development, L.P.
Bellaire City Council Member since 2016;
Board Member, Houston-Galveston Area Council representing small cities;
Board Member, Transportation Policy Council of H-GAC;
Chair, H-GAC Planning Committee; Member, H-GAC Finance Committee;
Council Liaison to Planning & Zoning Commission since 2016;
Member, Building & Standards Commission 2000-2007, Chair 2005-2007;
Parks & Recreation Advisory Board 1994-1995;
Board of Regents, Texas State University System 2007-2013

Catherine Lewis
Occupation and experience:
I am a Ph.D. geologist with 30 years of industry experience, 26 years with Exxon. I retired to be the caregiver for my father and brother. My first experience with Bellaire politics was soon after I moved to Bellaire when I circulated a petition that resulted in closing streets at the loop to stop cut-through traffic that endangered pets and people. An avid bicycle rider, I personally value the quiet streets and safe neighborhoods of Bellaire. I’ve been closely watching the direction and decisions of the council since about 2015, organizing neighbors and speaking at council meetings.

What issues do you care most about addressing in Bellaire?

Pollard: Drainage and flooding: seeking and implementing regional solutions to flooding issues; replacement of aging infrastructure, especially water lines, wastewater lines and roads; maintaining our beautiful parks and outstanding library; safety and security: keeping our police and fire personnel at the 75th percentile or better; budgeting so that we build back our critically-important reserve levels to maintain our excellent bond rating.

Lewis: Wise budgeting — I believe that the city has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
Plan for the City of Homes — Homeowners come first. Local businesses need to be respected.
Flood mitigation — I want to bring my skill as a Ph.D. geologist to proactively solve the flooding problem in Bellaire.
Transparency & listening — As one who has often spoken at public hearings, I believe that every citizen should be heard.

What is your position on Bellaire's approach to zoning?
Pollard: Bellaire is unique, as is its zoning code and comprehensive plan. I look forward to our upcoming efforts to amend the comprehensive plan to include a new section on drainage and flooding issues. We must continue to preserve the residential character of our city while also welcoming businesses.

Lewis: Bellaire is zoned to protect the citizens: both residents and local businesses.
* The purpose of zoning is to lessen congestion, protect access to air and light, lessen traffic, restrict the size of buildings and promote safety. In recent years, discussion has been about raising the tax base and redesigning the city.
* Changes in zoning must follow the comprehensive plan, per state law. The comprehensive plan is scheduled to be revisited in 2020, and it should be revised on a block-by-block basis to make sure we don’t put auto service or tall buildings where we really don’t want them.

How would you approach balancing the city's budget amid state limits on property tax increases?

Pollard: The budgeting process should focus not just on the upcoming fiscal year 2020, but also the years beyond. It's all about the levels of service our residents demand/expect/want while at the same time keeping our reserve levels healthy, both for continued financial stability in the future and to protect our superior bond rating. That said, it's absolutely critical that we get input from all residents about what you want to see in the budget and what you believe our residents can do without so that we can do the hard work of setting priorities.

Lewis: I believe that the city has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
* Council seems proud that they haven’t raised taxes to the maximum every year, but they shouldn’t have to raise them at all. They can cut spending instead.
* There are 65 council priorities in the FY 2020 Budget Story presentation (July 15). A list that long is a wish list, not a priorities list, and they should be ranked according to their importance. Otherwise, the council won’t trim anything because they are told each line item was their priority.



I-59 highway
Southbound lanes on Loop 610, I-69 to have nightly closures until Friday

Two southbound outside lanes from Westheimer Road down to the Fournace Place ramp on Loop 610 will be closed 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning tonight until Friday, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

Pier 1 stores closing
Amid nationwide closures, local Pier 1 stores to shut down

Pier 1 Imports stores in Meyerland and Rice Village will be closing their doors, though a store in River Oaks will remain open.

New studio aims to bring the fun in coding for kids

A fully interactive coding studio is bringing its high-tech features to The Galleria in June.

A Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County study on eliminating ride fares left both METRO board members and officials seemingly unconvinced of the likelihood of implementing it in Harris County. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
METRO board of directors say free fare 'not feasible' for transit authority

A METRO study on eliminating ride fares left board members and officials unconvinced of the likelihood of implementing it in Harris County.

Houston City Council approves revisions to 2015 flood buyout processes

New guidelines adjust single-family and multifamily home buyout process for those affected by 2015 floods.

Breathing Center of Houston moves therapy rehab to new location

Breathing Center of Houston has moved one of its locations to 6108 S. Rice Ave., Houston, on Jan. 8 from its old location on Beechnut Street. The new center offers a more modern decor along with the same program offerings, including outpatient rehabilitation, which focuses on improving the quality of life for patients with lung disease or chronic lung issues. Patients interact one-on-one with medical therapists to learn breathing techniques and strength and endurance exercises. 713-660-0663.

Meyerland HEB
H-E-B announces Meyerland store opening date

H-E-B will open its new Meyerland Plaza location Jan. 29 at 4700 Beechnut St., Houston.

(Jen Para/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo concert tickets go on sale Jan. 16

Lower-level seating options are already very limited.

Texas oil and gas industry could see a major slowdown in 2020

The oil and natural gas industry paid a record-setting $16.3 billion in taxes and royalties to local governments and the state in 2019, the Texas Oil and Gas Association announced Tuesday.

HGA driver Derek King picks up a patient from David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport in Spring before transporting her to the Texas Medical Center. (Courtesy Derek King)
Houston Ground Angels seeking volunteers to drive patients to Texas Medical Center

Houston Ground Angels is a nonprofit organization that provides transportation between local airports and the Texas Medical Center for patients with cancer and other life-threatening diseases and illnesses.

Chevron Houston Marathon
Chevron Marathon 2020 street closures, places to watch and cheer on

This year’s Chevron Houston Marathon will bring 27,000 estimated participants into the area on Jan. 19.

Image courtesy ABC 13
Bellaire PD: Suspect arrested in connection with shooting death at Bellaire High School

Via ABC13: A student shot at Bellaire High School has died, sources told ABC13 Tuesday. Officials say the suspect is still on the loose.

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