Q&A: A chat with West University Place Mayor Susan Sample who returns for third mayoral term

West University Place mayor Susan Sample won her race during the May 2 election that saw her collect nearly 52% of the vote. Sample comes to the West University mayorship with a plethora of experience, including as a member of the city council. Community Impact Newspaper spoke with Sample in June to hear about her priorities ahead of the council’s first meeting.

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Why did you decide to come back and run for a third term as West University Place mayor?

I enjoyed working with West U. When I was mayor we had short terms. We had a term limit of two two-year terms. While I was mayor we had a charter review committee look at our charter, which prescribes those term limits, and determined those periods were too short for a mayor or council to get their feet wet and get things going and actually make an impact. Now it’s three two-year terms.

We didn't make that change in the charter retroactive so that we could stay in office. We didn't have it apply to ourselves, but I was out for two years and looked at how things were moving and thought that my running would be a positive for the city.

You’ve returned to the mayorship for your third term. What are some of your biggest priorities coming in?

Drainage. We started a drainage plan when I was heading out of office and we always had drainage projects, or with a city-wide drainage study, and it's been modified. And now, we are trying to get that moving forward to get every street to a two-year event, which is the standard in the city of Houston, and some of our areas were below that.

We also need to finish the Buffalo Speedway project with minimal impact to the residents and a positive result.

Our drainage is about half that of the city of Houston. The city of Houston has good drainage, and we have 60 to 70-year-old pipes. So we need to work to free up that bottleneck.

On safety, we’re still working on Virtual Gate, but if you go into our police blotter you’ll see that it’s been instrumental already even though it’s not fully implemented. It has been helping in a number of instances, not just with West U, but with Soundside Place, which has had a couple, and Bellaire has successfully called in and had us run a case for them.

What other drainage considerations is West University Place facing?

We have worked with the county on different things. We still have things on the table that have been driving out forever like our Poor Farm Ditch. But we did a citywide drainage study, which is not just those main drain points which are important because the water flows into them. We have things that flow into Poor Farm Ditch, and there are also major trunk lines in the city. Those are important to keep big and to take as much water as rapidly as they can.

However, the citywide drainage study is looking at under the streets themselves on a granular level as to which streets either have issues with flow drainage, [or] the pipes aren’t up to current standards, that type of thing.

You’re working with a new council. What are some goals of the group?

Besides how no one wants to be flooded ... and how people want to be safe, we know that people during campaign season and before talked to us about sustainability. So maybe that is something we can look at.

Also, communications. People may not directly know how to say they want to do something a certain way. You can see when things are on Nextdoor, Facebook, Instagram, or wherever, where people are asking questions that the city should be able to answer before they run out and have to ask all their friends. Those topics come up organically, and you can see where things need changing.

You know a city is run well when the residents are fairly quiet because the city services are running like they’re supposed to be. They’re not left in the dark about construction projects or crime. They're informed, and their city services are being delivered in a superior way. Then you know the city is is on track.

So you want to get manageable goals that you can meet. You don’t want to say, ‘Let’s keep it the same and have everything nice.’

You want things for the city to keep it moving forward, but usually, you’ll come down to about 10 goals, and you also have secondary and third goals. You then follow up every couple of months to see where you are on those goals to make sure they get met by the end of the two years. That’s why we want the goal-setting early because everybody will have an outlier goal that no one else is interested in. So you want everybody to be on a similar page when you put the goals together.
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


student writing on paper
Texas Legislature allows parents to opt for students to repeat grade levels or courses

Senate Bill 1697 is effective for the 2021-22 school year.

Houston ISD is slated to receive more than $1.1 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding. (Community Impact staff)
See how Houston ISD wants to spend $1.1 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding

From hiring more counselors to teacher retention stipends, HISD administrators outlined plans at a July 28 public meeting.

School supplies will be exempt from the 8.25% sales tax Aug. 6-8. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
What to know before the statewide tax-free weekend Aug. 6-8

Customers will not have to pay the standard 8.25% sales tax on select clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks under $100.

Marking the first development completed through the city of Houston Harvey Multifamily Program, the Bellfort Park Apartments are now open after an extensive renovation project. (Courtesy city of Houston)
Following renovations, Bellfort Park Apartments reopen for low- and moderate-income families in Southwest Houston

The 64-unit apartment complex is the first development to be renovated through the city of Houston’s Harvey Multifamily Program.

Houston Firefighters
Appeals court rules in favor of union in longstanding Houston firefighters pay parity case

The measure, known as Proposition B, requires Houston firefighters to receive the same pay as Houston police officers of comparable rank. 

Main Chick Hot Chicken opened its first brick-and-mortar location July 23 in Sugar Land. (Courtesy Main Chick Hot Chicken)
Main Chick Hot Chicken opens in Sugar Land; Urban Bird Hot Chicken coming to Cy-Fair and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news for the Houston area, including two new chicken restaurants.

The meals will be available at no cost for all students with zero requirements for qualification. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harmony Public Schools to offer free meals to all students

The meals will be available at no cost for all students with zero requirements for qualification.

Houston-area residents will be able to apply online for a one-time payment of $1,500 from July 28-Aug. 11. (File photo)
$30M COVID Relief Fund opens for Harris County residents as eviction moratorium ends

Sourced by funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, eligible residents will receive a one-time payment of $1,500 to support urgent needs.

Pride Houston Parade
Pride Houston fall parade and festival canceled due to COVID-19 concerns

The downtown annual parade and festival, scheduled for Sept. 25, will be replaced by a Montrose block party and other events, organizers announced July 25.

The CDC reversed its masking guidance for fully vaccinated individuals in response to the transmissibility of the delta variant of COVID-19 in a press conference July 27. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
NEW CDC GUIDANCE: All individuals should wear masks in K-12 schools, including those who are fully vaccinated

The new CDC guidance, announced July 27, also recommends people in areas with "high" or "substantial" levels of transmission wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

The Texas Children's Pavilion for Women will undergo a $201 million expansion. (Courtesy Texas Children's Hospital)
Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women announces $201M expansion

The expansion includes transforming the former Baylor Clinic building.