Q&A: Candidates for Jersey Village City Council Place 3 talk priorities, issues facing city



HOUSTON



Jersey Village City Council Place 3










Ashley Brown



Occupation: procurement


Experience: Participated on the Park and Recreation Advisory Committee for two appointments and Charter Review Committee for one appointment. In college I interned for a year for U.S. Congressman Jim Turner






Why are you running to be on Jersey Village City Council?



AB: Politics has always interested me as an adult and when I was a child. I minored in political science while at Sam Houston State earning my bachelor’s of business administration in economics. I’m finally at a point in my life where I can dedicate the time and energy necessary to a position while living in a community I want to give back to. I want to help Jersey Village move forward while preserving the fundamental greatness of what makes [the city] a wonderful place.



What do you think are the top challenges facing the city right now, and how would you work to address them?



AB: Flooding is always a hot topic but, while I think it is high on the list, I think honesty and transparency need to be a focus. Lately it seems many decisions have been made unbeknownst to citizens and without votes or input from tax payers. An example of this is the move of City Hall across [Hwy.] 290 after purchasing the land as part of a settlement agreement in dealing with a lawsuit. I would like to see more collaborative efforts with the citizens to gauge the real wants versus needs of the city. I’ve spent all of 2021 talking with fellow [Jersey Village] residents listening to what improvements or changes they are wanting to see take place. I would continue to reach out and seek their input and knowledge. Citizens input is the fulcrum of representative government, and I want to harness more of that strength for our city.



If elected, what would be your approach to budgeting and tax rates in this year's budget session?



AB: I would like to see our tax exemptions given much more focus. In our modern times where income is so fixed for seniors and expenses are continuously rising, we need to reduce their burden. The 65 and older or disabled exemption would be my top issue. If the city has money stockpiled to spend on these exorbitant ideas, then we can give our elder citizens a tax break. The government’s job isn’t to turn a profit or save millions to spend on fun projects. The government's job is to protect and provide for its citizens' wants, needs and safety. Spending our tax dollars on projects that are unnecessary and unwanted is not protecting our citizens.









Michelle Mitcham



Occupation: CEO, speech language pathologist


Experience: 10-year Jersey Village resident, small-business owner for six years, co-owner of a local Jersey Village restaurant for one year, served as vice president of Post Elementary parent teacher organization, active member of the JV Mamas group, and mother of two




Why are you running to be on Jersey Village City Council?



MM: Over the last 10 years Jersey Village has been on an upward trajectory in terms of quality of life, economic development and public safety, while property taxes have fallen. City leaders past and present have solved big problems by collaborating with county, state and federal agencies. I want to continue Jersey Village’s upward trajectory, and I feel my experience as a CEO, local business owner and mother would be a helpful voice on council.



What do you think are the top challenges facing the city right now, and how would you work to address them?



MM: Flood mitigation is a challenge, and I will continue to support matching funds for grant programs to help pay for projects with long-lasting protection. Making sure our emergency services are well-funded and well-equipped as costs and salaries increase is a challenge. By investing in economic development efforts and resulting increases in our sales tax base, our police and fire department budgets are a direct beneficiary. I will be a strong supporter of these efforts.



If elected, what would be your approach to budgeting and tax rates in this year's budget session?



MM: I will vote to increase the homestead exemption to 20% in my first year and increase the over-65 exemption and disabled exemption each budget to levels that help keep seniors’ property tax bills flat even as property values increase. Our city has done a great job obtaining state and federal grants to help pay for major projects, preserving our 150-day reserve. I will continue to support this conservative fiscal approach to safeguard our city’s future.


By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


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