Q&A: Get to know the candidates running for Sugar Land City Council District 1

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As early voting for the May 4 election approaches, learn more about the candidates running for Sugar Land City Council.

Steve Porter (incumbent)

Occupation: City Council Member, District 1; ExxonMobil Corporation, retired after 39-year career as a global information technology project manager

Years in Sugar Land: 39 years

Phone number: 281-796-6741

Website: www.StevePorter4District1.com

1. What would you do to help accelerate the redevelopment of Imperial Market?

Those of us living on the north side of the city have been repeatedly disappointed with the re-development of this significant historic site. Each of the previous developers invested substantially in the site, thereby moving the starting line closer for redevelopment. Since the developers had the land foreclosed, the city has met with the new owner, who is looking for a development partner, and has assured the new owner of the city’s support and assistance, once the new developer is onsite with financial backing.  I will work with all involved to ensure redevelopment and code enforcement at this iconic site.

2. What are your thoughts on the reburial of the human remains discovered on Fort Bend ISD’s construction site in Sugar Land?

The historical importance of honoring these 95 individuals with dignity led a city initiated multi-disciplinary taskforce to recommend reburial at the school site as their first priority, and the city’s Old Imperial Cemetery as second choice. The city executed a [memorandum of understanding] with FBISD to ensure the 95 individuals could be reinterred at the Imperial Cemetery if the district was not able to operate a cemetery at the school site. Fort Bend County offered to purchase the school site and reinter the 95 individuals there and has asked state legislators to change current laws to allow the county to operate cemeteries.

3. What are your thoughts on multifamily developments in Sugar Land? Would you add more apartments or do you feel the city has enough?

The City Council convened a Citizens Land Use Advisory Committee that worked hard over four years to reach a consensus for updating the city’s land use plan. That plan included, among other things, how any additional multifamily development would be handled in the future, i.e. it must be included in a mixed-use development only. When that plan came before City Council, I supported the Citizens Land Use Advisory Committee’s recommendation.  There is currently no land left in the city zoned for standalone apartments, and I believe it should stay that way.

4. How would you work to ensure Sugar Land’s economic development stays diverse as some portions of the city are redeveloped and the remaining undeveloped land becomes limited?

The city’s Land Use Plan addresses redevelopment, recommending innovative regional and neighborhood activity centers spread across the city as those areas redevelop. Since most areas in need of redevelopment are privately owned, the city has over time reached out to several of the owners of aging strip centers in District 1 to see if we could work with them to upgrade or redevelop their properties. Many of the owners have been slow to respond, which limits the overall revitalization efforts. The city will continue to work diligently with interested owners to achieve the goals of our Land Use Plan vision.

5. If elected, what challenge will be your top priority, and why?

Although Sugar Land is one of the safest cities in America, continued vigilance is a must to best serve the residents of District 1 and those new residents added due to annexation. Completion of the Public Safety Training facility is also a priority.  Although close to $70 million has been invested in District 1 infrastructure since I took office, we can’t stop there. Yes, the drainage improvements in the district had a great impact, especially during Harvey, yet there is more to be done. Another top priority is to continue high-tech investments in mobility, especially along 90A and Highway 6.

Mohammad “Jazz” Aijaz

Occupation: Accountant, future CPA

Years in Sugar Land: 14 years

Phone number: 281-235-5842

Website: www.JazzForSugarLand.com

1. What would you do to help accelerate the redevelopment of Imperial Market?

The developers have stated that they need a construction loan to break ground. First thing will be to have an honest discussion with the developers. After that, we can talk with lenders to figure out a solution to break ground. Once all of the paperwork is in order, we can get to work and make this delayed project a reality.

2. What are your thoughts on the reburial of the human remains discovered on Fort Bend ISD’s construction site in Sugar Land?

I’m glad the county has stepped in to negotiate an agreement to construct a memorial park and cemetery. I’m optimistic we can have an inter-governmental discussion with the county and FBISD to properly address this issue. County Judge K.P. George said it best: “I believe these people were not served justice. As a civilized society, I believe we have an obligation to serve some kind of justice to these people. We don’t even know them, but they were here. They were the citizens of Fort Bend County.”

3. What are your thoughts on multifamily developments in Sugar Land? Would you add more apartments or do you feel the city has enough?

While I’m not a fan of stand-alone multifamily units, mixed-use properties, such as the Imperial Park redevelopment project, are the future. Our undeveloped land is limited and there aren’t any big tracts available for residential neighborhoods. Empty nesters and young professionals are the type of individuals that want to live in these mixed-use districts, and those are the people we need to attract to increase our population and expand our tax base.

4. How would you work to ensure Sugar Land’s economic development stays diverse as some portions of the city are redeveloped and the remaining undeveloped land becomes limited?

This ties in with the questions above. Having an economic mix is great for communities and for our tax base. All the remaining undeveloped land is defined as either commercial or light industrial. To continue maintaining our economic development, I will work with all stakeholders to address issues and continue our growth. We need to stay competitive, innovative, and forward thinking so surrounding cities see Sugar Land as a city with a great history but also a great future.

5. If elected, what challenge will be your top priority, and why?

My first priority will be to continue to meet all of the residents in my district. Ideally, I want to meet everyone before the election, but some people may not be available when I’m in their area. I want to discuss the issues affecting our city as well as learning about issues that haven’t been discussed yet. One thing I hear often is that voters don’t feel like they are connected to our city government, and I want to change that. Meeting with my constituents is the most important thing I can do because I am here to serve them.

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Beth Marshall
Born and raised in Montgomery County, Beth Marshall graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in communication and a minor in business. Originally hired as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in 2016, she became editor of the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition in October 2017.
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