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.


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