Q&A: East Montgomery County Improvement District candidates discuss their goals

Learn more about the candidates for East Montgomery County Improvement District Position 3 seat ahead of the November general election. (Community Impact staff)
Learn more about the candidates for East Montgomery County Improvement District Position 3 seat ahead of the November general election. (Community Impact staff)

Learn more about the candidates for East Montgomery County Improvement District Position 3 seat ahead of the November general election. (Community Impact staff)



HOUSTON



East Montgomery County Improvement District Position 3










John F. Darst



Occupation: Funeral director






If elected, I would change...




JFD: I can't say that I would change anything. I have seen what a wonderful gift the EMCID has been to our community and see very little need for change. It meets many needs of the community and has evolved to be like a well-oiled machine and helping the parts of the community that need it the most when they need it.




Why are you running for East Montgomery Improvement District board of directors?




JFD: I recently went into semi retirement with Darst Funeral Home and having been a public servant for the past fifty years in the funeral industry; I wanted to continue being that public servant to the community I have lived and worked in for so many years.




What do you think is the most important duty of an EMCID board member?




JFD: A board member must always be mindful that the main function that the EMCID was created [for] was to advance the economic status of our community. We must be always in search of ways to keep our commerce growing, such as by offering our future business leaders scholarships to higher education institutions so that they might be better business persons and stay in our community. Other ways would be to attract businesses from outside our area to come and be a part of our community and hire our graduates and underemployed for jobs the new business brings to our community. Our board most importantly reaches out to our business community with grants and low interest loans, which banks typically can't do. A board member should love helping and working for our community as if it were family.




What role do you think EMCID should play in helping the area recover from the pandemic, and how will you help achieve that?




JD: That is a question that I am not sure is directly possible to be correctly answered any different than my response to the previous question, as no matter how deeply we are motivated to do something, as a government entity, we must operate within our charter with the guidelines set forth. If a possibility exists to help, we will find it.









David Miller





Occupation: police sergeant


Contact: N/A




If elected, I would change...




DM: [I would] focus on transparency and the betterment of infrastructure on our I-69 main corridor and support for long term business partners. I believe firmly in conservative spending, worthwhile investments, continuance of supporting our youth and future growth to fit within our means [and] always keeping an open mind to listen to the people that surround us.




Why are you running for East Montgomery Improvement District board of directors?




DM: I am certain that I can be an asset for the EMCID but more for the people. [I firmly believe] that with fresh ideas in working with other board members to make positive changes, [I can] also stand up and be that voice that they all meant to be when elected and make those hard decisions when necessary for the right reasons, regardless of the wall that we face that may appear impossible. Being a commissioner should not give you entitlement but rather empower you to make that difference. I’ve been working in this community for more than 30 years in promoting public safety in both law enforcement and fire along with the community, both on- and off-duty, and their well-being. Those in this community that truly know me know what I stand for, and if they do not know, simply ask around.




What do you think is the most important duty of an EMCID board member?




DM: The most important portion of being a commissioner or board member in any organization is to maintain the integrity of the reason you yearned for it in the first place. Never forget where you came from or where your going. You must be good stewards of your constituents' finances and make decisions based on the community needs, safety and concerns that affect them. Do not be afraid to speak your opinion and make your voice heard.




What role do you think EMCID should play in helping the area recover from the pandemic, and how will you help achieve that?




DM: EMCID has made some resources available to local businesses during this hardship of the pandemic, including funds for the businesses employees during this hardship. I do feel that during the first phases, perhaps we may have worked more diligently with other entities for sanitizer, mask and possibly other essentials for the community. These resources must be distributed with just cause and fairly. It is sometimes difficult to know what restraints may be there until you actually experience it and not make promises that one may not be able to keep. Always strive to work with all local entities and other government offices for the common good of our community. Focus more on the what we can do rather than what we cannot.












Hank Vat





Occupation: IT administrator






If elected, I would change...




HV: The EMCID economic development program to allocate a higher ratio of dollars to assist existing local business in expansions and recovery.




Why are you running for East Montgomery Improvement District board of directors?




HV: Because this is where I can do the most good for East Montgomery County. My business experience provides for a unique list of qualifications, making me a perfect fit as an EMCID board member.


What do you think is the most important duty of an EMCID board member?




HV: Fiduciary responsibility to the citizens within the district.




What role do you think EMCID should play in helping the area recover from the pandemic, and how will you help achieve that?




HV: EMCID should play a crucial role in the recovery process, especially assisting small businesses that have been severely affected by this pandemic and the resulting shutdown. I would implement a committee to examine the impacts both short- and long-term to these businesses and create programs specifically designed to mitigate those impacts.















Ronald Willingham





Occupation: deputy constable






If elected, I would change...




RW: EMCID is a collaboration of board members, not one person. It is the board’s utmost responsibility to use the taxpayers’ money wisely for existing businesses, new business and also programs for EMC, such as the Safe Shopper program, scholarships and programs for our youth.




Why are you running for East Montgomery Improvement District board of directors?




RW: I am running for Dale Martin’s position and want to have a voice that his involvement in the youth of EMC is carried on. The EMCID board is being entrusted with the taxpayers’ money, and my interest is to research new business to be sure that money is spent on reputable businesses that will bring employment to EMC.




What do you think is the most important duty of an EMCID board member?




RW: To be constantly vigilant in how we spend the taxpayers’ money for the development of East Montgomery County.




What role do you think EMCID should play in helping the area recover from the pandemic, and how will you help achieve that?




RW: Small business has suffered greatly during the pandemic, and I would further development of programs to help existing businesses while still focusing on ways to bring new business to the area.






By Andy Li
Originally from Boone, North Carolina, Andy Li is a graduate of East Carolina University with degrees in Communication with a concentration in Journalism and Political Science. While in school, he worked as a performing arts reporter, news, arts and copy editor and a columnist at the campus newspaper, The East Carolinian. He also had the privilege to work with NPR’s Next Generation Radio, a project for student journalists exploring radio news. Moving to Houston in May 2019, he now works as the reporter for the Conroe/Montgomery edition of Community Impact Newspaper.


MOST RECENT

If approved, the Lake Houston Dredging and Maintenance District could take on all future dredging in Lake Houston. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
To-be-filed bill could fund dredging in Lake Houston by charging additional surface water fee

The conservation and reclamation district would have the power to take out bonds to fund projects. The bonds would be paid through a fee charged to utility providers who purchase surface water from Lake Houston.

COVID-19 vaccines
DATA: Texas has vaccinated about 9% of estimated Phase 1 recipients

Over 1.1 million individuals from the Phase 1 population, which is estimated to include 13.5 million individuals total, have received at least one dose.

Bob Popinski, policy director of Raise Your Hand Texas, shared the organization's top education priorities for the ongoing legislative session. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
‘What does virtual learning and remote learning look like moving forward?': Raise Your Hand Texas policy director talks legislative priorities

Bob Popinski is the director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, an Austin-based organization committed to improving public education. He spoke with Community Impact Newspaper in late December about the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12.

Houston City Hall aerial view
Houston City Council ethics committee to review speech policies

The discussion comes after Facebook posts by Council Member Greg Travis led to calls for his resignation or censure.

Bayou City Art Festival Downtown is scheduled to return in person in October. (Courtesy Katya Horner/Bayou City Art Festival)
Bayou City Art Festival scheduled for in-person return in October

The Memorial Park version of the festival will be celebrated through alternative virtual and smaller in-person events.

The Conroe clinic was allocated 2,000 doses of Moderna Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine the week of Jan. 18 because of its designation as a hub provider. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Conroe's Lone Star Family Health Center designated as COVID-19 vaccination hub, receives 2,000 doses

The facility was the sole Montgomery County provider to receive a vaccine allocation in the sixth week of statewide distribution.

At a Jan. 15 emergency court hearing, officials came up with a plan to try to reduce the inmate population at the Harris County Jail that centers on hosting more bail reduction hearings. (Courtesy Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)
With open beds dwindling, officials look for ways to reduce Harris County jail population

The inmate population at the Harris County Jail is rising, and officials are looking for ways to quickly ease the pressure as concerns grow over the ability to quarantine and restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

Bocca Italian Kitchen serves seasonal, Italian-inspired dishes, such as polenta and various pastas. (Courtesy Marco Torres)
Italian eateries open in Generation Park; Houston bike lane fines enforced and more local news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

The independent pharmacy went through 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine in nine days. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Magnolia Pharmacy aims to open volunteer-run COVID-19 vaccine clinic Jan. 22

If everything goes according to plan, the clinic could administer 200-400 doses per day to those who qualify, regardless of their county of residency.

Humble Mayor Merle Aaron announced in January that he would not seek re-election in May. (Courtesy Merle Aaron)
UPDATED: Humble Mayor Merle Aaron announces retirement, will not seek re-election in May

Prior to serving as mayor, Aaron was elected to City Council in 2005 to complete an unexpired term as council member. He resigned 10 years later to run for mayor.

Humble City Council Member Allan Steagall, left, who served on the council for 18 years, officially retired Jan. 14. Steagall was joined at his last meeting by his wife, Juanita, right. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Humble City Council Member Allan Steagall retires after 18 years serving community

Steagall served 18 consecutive years on Humble City Council, during which he never ran opposed for his seat.

Minute Maid Park
Houston Health Department vaccine appointments fill up in 16 minutes

The department will administer 5,000 doses at Minute Maid Park on Jan. 16 and 17.