Pearland City Council has three positions on the May 4 Election Day ballot. Jimi Amos, Derrell Isenberg and Luke Orlando are running for Council Position 1, previously held by Tony Carbone.
Community Impact Newspaper interviewed the candidates for Position 1. Here are the candidates and their responses.
Occupation: process improvement manager
Occupation: retired, former vice president at Digco Utility
Occupation: management consultant
Why did you choose to run for Pearland City Council Position 5?
Jimi Amos: I am running because I believe I can make a difference in our city by solving complex challenges around traffic flow, air pollution, infrastructure and technology needs that lie ahead. As a member of this beautiful community my family and I call home I believe it’s our duty to serve and better the environment and communities [in] which we live. We cannot seek achievements for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community.
Derrell Isenberg: This community welcomed my family and I nearly 20 years ago. My grown children and their families live and own property in Pearland. This makes Pearland very important to me and that is why I serve. I was on the Zoning Board of Adjustments for two years and then Planning and Zoning for another four years. I have participated in numerous organizations and charities in the city. Now, I have time to serve the people of Pearland as a full-time city council member. I have no other political aspirations and only wish to serve this fine city.
Luke Orlando: My life has been molded by two great passions: public service and Pearland. Growing up here shaped who I am today and instilled in me the importance of a close community. From my family’s Little League World Series run to Hurricanes Ike and Harvey, this city rallies together in good times and in bad. Our tremendous growth has brought bigger opportunities but also bigger challenges than ever before. As Council Member Carbone departs, the council is losing its financial perspective right as we face a massive budget challenge. My financial experience and my service to our political leaders makes me the best candidate to replace him.
What makes you qualified to run for the position?
Amos: My personal and professional experiences make me uniquely qualified for City Council. Besides my technical, management and problem-solving skills. I will bring a diverse perspective to city council. As a Nigerian American living in the Shadow Creek/Southern Trails neighborhood, I would say Pearland is a city rich with diversity. Early in my career as an engineer at GE Power-Generation and Schlumberger I have been fortunate to be at the front seat of technology. Working on nuclear turbines, aeroderivative turbines and servicing power plants across the country which has allowed me understand the importance of infrastructure to a city’s growth and economy.
Isenberg: Having decades of experience in the utility industry, I have managed personnel, equipment issues, contract issues, aging infrastructure, storm restoration, and a number of other issues pertaining to a city’s needs. In my career, I created budgets, lived according to budgets and made profit from those budgets. I understand finances from real world experience. I want to bring this experience to the City while serving our citizens and providing them a voice.
Orlando: Working in our Congressman’s district office and serving our State Representative from 2013 to 2015, I spent every day addressing the issues facing Pearland. Today, I work as a management consultant for a global professional services firm, developing and implementing solutions for difficult financial and organizational problems facing businesses – often with budgets and workforces larger than the city of Pearland. I graduated from the University of Texas with degrees in Government and Finance with a specialization in Money and Capital Markets. After spending nearly 25 years in this city and being an active community member and property owner, I’m ready to serve.
If elected, what will your priorities be in office?
Amos: Continuously resolve traffic bottlenecks, reduce high property tax rates, improve air quality with partners such as Blue Ridge Landfill, sharply reduce crime in known hot spots, promote smart city initiative, promote fiscal discipline and identify mobility needs for Pearland and what that looks like in 20 years with feedback from residents and businesses. Lastly, adjusting to Hwy. 288 project completion as a city and identifying ways with the Texas Department of Transportation to make sure Pearland residents transition well and also monitoring the impact of the Hwy. 288 project on how city assets are deployed. We are in an experience business and creating memorable experiences for our city is something I am passionate about. While campaigning no one complained of potholes in Pearland but everyone complains of traffic. Less traffic to me equals more sales tax. Folks would leave their homes and shop more instead of losing sales revenue to online sales.
Isenberg: Traffic & mobility: traffic requires thoughtful planning and financial responsibility to balance increased capacity on our roadways while maintaining aging infrastructure.
Safety: a well-staffed and equipped police, fire and emergency medical services as it is vital to maintain the security of our citizens and their families.
Taxes & Financial Responsibility: understanding and managing budgets is essential to ensure our city is financially healthy and responsible now and into the future.
Drainage: we need to continue to improve drainage, working not just within the city but also working with surrounding entities as our watersheds expand beyond our borders.
Orlando: 1. Ensure our city draws more broadly from its talented population to make decisions, solve problems, and create a unified, inclusive Pearland identity. 2. With 63 cents of every property tax dollar going towards our debt and millions in deferred expenses piling up, our city’s financial future is at risk. I’ll tightly monitor our budget and attract new business investment that can bring high-quality jobs and share the tax burden. 3. To remain a great city, we must strategically develop our few remaining vacant spaces. Business and entertainment hubs, event venues, and education facilities drive long-term success that strip centers and gas stations cannot provide.
Anything else you would like the voters to know?
Amos: Early voting is April 22-30. On May 4 Pearland will vote for three new City Council leaders and a bond that will result to increase city debt and property taxes.
One of the bonds we have coming up for votes this May has Pearland voters voting on a $13 million animal shelter and adoption center. When I go around our city and listen to Pearland residents that does not come up as important. Yes, we have stray animals and pets on the loose often. In this instance can we partner with vet clinics, Fresno, Manvel, Brazoria, Fort Bend or Harris county to share an animal shelter cost or resource? Just imagine an instance where we share animal shelter resource, we can save our city and tax payers over a $10 million price tag and high interest rates. Pearland residents will vote on this topic these coming elections. I would rather have us shift that cost to investment in technology for our police force and traffic engineers who focus daily on ways to improve traffic flow in the city.
Isenberg: Another priority that is important to me is to continue to work toward a solution on the Blue Ridge Landfill nuisance.
Pearland is a city in which I am proud to call home. It is a city that people want to live, work and play. The tremendous growth has been great but has also brought challenges. I have no doubt we can address these challenges together because the people of Pearland are our greatest resource. Pearland is diverse in its people but unified as Pearlanders as we all have similar goals and the aspiration for this city to be great.
Orlando: To lead Pearland through its financial challenges and emerge stronger on the other side, our next council member will require significant educational and professional experience. I have the strongest educational background and most relevant experience to be successful in this position. I spent years working with our leaders to address the challenges facing the people of Pearland. Every day, I help businesses balance their budgets, streamline their processes, and craft solutions that lead to long-term success. It would be a great honor to bring this experience to the city I love most and build an even greater Pearland together.
These responses have been edited for clarity.