Bobby Warren was elected mayor of Jersey Village in May, but the Harris County native said he never pictured himself running for mayor of a small city. He graduated with a communication degree from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, where he met his wife through the speech and debate program. The two married in 2010 after Warren graduated from the University of Houston Law Center and was licensed in 2005.

When looking to purchase a new home, he said the couple’s wishlist included a beautiful neighborhood with large yards and unique homes. These boxes and more were checked in Jersey Village, where they have lived for about seven years. In 2017, Warren successfully ran for a seat on Jersey Village City Council. Two years later, he was re-elected with no challengers, and he won the mayoral race this spring with 74% of voters’ support.

The oil and gas compliance manager recently discussed flood mitigation efforts, economic development and the future of Jersey Village with Community Impact Newspaper. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What is your top priority as mayor?

My main goal is to continue the work that has been laid out over the last several years. Certainly, flood mitigation is a real key goal. We had a flooding event here in 2016, and we were extraordinarily lucky with Hurricane Harvey [the following year] to maybe have one or two homes that may have had some flooding. ... A lot of the flood mitigation infrastructure that’s in place here did its job.

We’ve had a lot of success with our efforts to get federal funding for projects such as the golf course berm and Wall Street project that’s underway. We’ve still got dozens of homes that are in potential danger of being seriously damaged in a flood, but we also have a lot of homes that we’ve gotten out of the flood plain.

Because the federal funding presents a lot of red tape ... we’ve also been looking at ways to utilize a possible public-private partnership where the city would purchase the land from the homeowner; we would incur the cost of demolishing the home and then sell it to a developer to build a new home that’s outside of the flood plain.

Other than flood mitigation, what are some other areas of focus for you?

Besides that, we have always placed a lot of emphasis on public safety—trying to continue to improve our police and fire departments that were already great, but we always want to make sure we’re providing them the best equipment, best training and all the resources that they need.

For the longest time we’ve had the Jersey Village Crime Control and Prevention District where a half-cent of our sales tax was dedicated entirely to law enforcement. We recently put to the voters a proposal to create a similar district for the fire department, and they approved that just this past May, so we are getting that up and running.

We should start to see some of the benefits of that in the upcoming fiscal year, and it will be good because it will ensure that there’s a dedicated stream of funding for both of those departments.

What are your hopes for the city’s future?

Ultimately what I would like to see happen—and I know it’s a very careful balance and one we always strive to keep in mind—I would love to see Jersey Village continue to grow without it being super apparent. There are some areas where the growth comes, and it just hits the community in ways that they’re not quite prepared for.

People here really love the fact that we have a little slice of Americana that’s hard to find this close to a major metropolitan area. If we can continue to provide amenities and businesses that they can visit while maintaining that character, that would be the best of all possible solutions.

Do you anticipate any notable challenges in this role?

One of the biggest challenges throughout any issue we face in this city is reassuring people that we can tackle those challenges in an adequate manner while not upsetting what has been built here in terms of community, the fabric of this place.

When creative solutions get proposed, one of the biggest challenges, besides actually executing that creative solution, is also convincing people that it is in the best interest of the community, that we are going to preserve all the things that are important to them while moving forward with that solution.

Just as we’re asking people to have an open mind and think beyond just what they’ve known Jersey Village to be, we also as a council have to be open minded as to some of the concerns and issues that maybe we didn’t think of when we put forward an idea and to make adjustments as needed.