Katy mayor election Q&A: Brawner, Hastings discuss flood-mitigation strategies, managing growth

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For the May 4 local election, voters will choose between two candidates in the race for mayor of Katy: incumbent Chuck Brawner and former Police Chief Bill Hastings.

Candidate responses have been edited for length and clarity.

*indicates incumbent candidate

Katy Mayor Chuck Brawner

Chuck Brawner*

Phone number: 281-391-5938
Email address: cbrawner1@comcast.net
Website: www.chuckbrawner.com
Occupation: mayor
Top priorities: flood mitigation, public safety, managing growth wisely
Years in Katy: 17

What will you do to ensure the city’s drainage is properly maintained and upgraded?
I was sworn into office as mayor in 2017 right as flood-mitigation projects were finally being implemented from the 2016 Tax Day Flood and just months before we were hit by Hurricane Harvey. I got to work on creating a program of penalties to contractors if they delayed our flood-mitigation projects. We immediately got to work on Harvey recovery and scaling up projects to protect us from another disaster of that magnitude, which is much of the infrastructure work you see around Katy today. I have immersed myself in these projects to assure they are being done as quickly, as efficiently as possible.

How can the city best prepare for the next big storm?
The city’s current strategic plan calls for flood-mitigation projects for areas of Katy flooded during Hurricane Harvey and the Tax Day Flood in 2016. Several of these projects are occurring now with more in the pipeline. I am continuing to work with federal and state officials to mitigate the Cypress watershed. In addition, the city has purchased its own high-water rescue truck and swift-water rescue boat that can be deployed by trained firefighters. For regular maintenance, the city purchased a new Gradall excavator that works every day to clean ditches. I want to complete these projects to keep Katy safe from future catastrophic flooding.

What can the city of Katy do to manage ongoing residential and commercial growth?
Katy grows on a normal average of 3% per year. But the growth in the area around us affects our traffic flow, our infrastructure and much more. We have been wisely managing the inevitable growth, and I will continue to do so. One of my key strategies has been to complete our flood-mitigation projects at no additional cost to the taxpayers, which we have achieved. Another strategy has been for businesses coming to Katy to support city infrastructure through the taxes and fees they pay for being here. That has also been successful for Katy families and taxpayers.

What is the biggest challenge facing the city of Katy, and how do you plan to address it?
The biggest challenge is the areas north of the city that are growing at a rapid rate that we have no control over their stormwater that drains straight into the city of Katy. We have no way to control that other than working with our regional, state and federal partners. It’s important that we have those relationships to discuss how we are going to keep that water out of the city of Katy. We are on the right track for these conversations. I have been working day in and day out on these issues.

In conversations with Katy residents, what issue has been brought up the most?
There is one universal issue that everyone in Katy agrees upon and that is preserving the small-town feel of Katy and keeping it alive for the families that have been here for decades and those that have just moved into our great city. This has been a priority of mine during my time as mayor, as evidenced by our Downtown Historic District work with the plaza that is now under construction and the work with Keep Katy Beautiful. This issue remains a top priority during my re-election campaign and will be a top priority in my second term.

Bill Hastings, former Katy Police Chief

William “Bill” Hastings

Phone number: 281-769-9555
Email address: whastings51@gmail.com
Website: www.billhastingsformayor.com
Occupation: retired city of Katy police chief; Bill Hastings Consulting
Top priorities: safety of our citizens; infrastructure of the city to prevent flooding; update and improve aging water and sewer lines; roadways and additional sidewalks; managed growth ensuring excellent city services along with our continued small-town atmosphere; expanding our parks and recreation program; cohesiveness by improving communication between our city, citizens and businesses with regard to code enforcement, permitting issues and trash services; always available to all community members
Years in Katy: 47 years

What will you do to ensure the city’s drainage is property maintained and upgraded?
I will facilitate efforts to create a maintenance program, including regional entities from the state, county, federal and local levels to address a long-term solution for our area, upstream and downstream. Drainage has to be monitored, maintained and updated on a regularly scheduled basis as a proactive rather than reactive measure. New developments at different elevations bring a new set of drainage concerns for our city. Each development requires specific needs and a fluid plan to merge with our existing system in an effort to mitigate flooding.

How can the city best prepare for the next big storm?
As the former emergency management coordinator, I can speak from experience and say that we need to continue to offer our first responders the most current training on emergency preparedness along with the best equipment possible. Hurricane Harvey left us aware of our deficiencies in personal equipment for first responders as well as traffic-control equipment such as barricades. Regularly scheduled stormwater inlet and drainage ditch maintenance is necessary. Outlying creeks and waterways are in dire need of clean up and repair.

What can the city of Katy do to manage ongoing residential and commercial growth?
Growth is inevitable. How we manage growth is important in every aspect of our community. With the growth of the city, there comes the added responsibility of maintenance and expansion of services. These responsibilities must be addressed by all city departments with a strong and proven leader, keeping cost and quality the center of considerations. Building and construction standards for our city are structured and must be enforced. Variances should be examined so we do not undermine our building standards in an effort to protect our citizens and homeowners. All city services and departments must have additional personnel to handle the increased demands.

What is the biggest challenge facing the city of Katy, and how do you plan to address it?
The growth of Katy is definitely of utmost importance. It affects absolutely every aspect of city services, infrastructure and mobility throughout the city. I have spent countless hours in conversation and in meetings as to the solutions for those issues and more. I want to assure voters that I understand the magnitude of challenges that growth brings to our city, and I am prepared to find resolutions through not only a partnership of professionals but also by forming more citizen committees.

In conversations with Katy residents, what issue has been brought up the most?
The areas in Katy are so diverse, and their needs are all different. Flooding issues are at the forefront, but mobility and transportation for the elderly is also a concern. The need for additional sidewalks, expansion of green space and the parks programs for families are among the top topics from Katy residents. There is also a lot of conversations about older neighborhoods concerning aging water and sewer lines as well as streets that have been overlaid too many times. There is also a lack of understanding about city contracts.

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Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Jen has written about business, politics and education since 2013. Prior to CI, Jen was the web producer at Houston Business Journal.
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