Jason Nelson was nominated to Position 2 on The Woodlands Township board of directors April 16 and was sworn in April 22, filling a position vacated by Brian Boniface when he resigned to provide coronavirus relief with the U.S. Army Reserves. Community Impact Newspaper asked Nelson, who is lead pastor at Rose Hill United Methodist Church in Tomball and has not previously served in a public office, about his experience and plans in the two-year position, which expires in November.

Have you previously sought a term on the township board of directors or considered running for a position?

I really try to follow God’s will for my life. I decided to run for the township board last August but pulled out of the race because I ultimately felt God leading me to do so at the time. So then, I decided to spend my time and efforts serving the community in other capacities.

How long have you lived in the township and in which village?

I fell in love with The Woodlands when I moved here for the first time in 2013. I moved away in spring of 2017 because of some life changes and then moved back in January of 2019. My family and I absolutely love this community and are blessed to call it home. We reside in Alden Bridge.

What will your priorities be for the term you will be filling? How do you feel the recent coronavirus pandemic has affected the township, and how does it change the board of directors' priorities during the next year?

As a community we know how to navigate and persevere through natural disasters, which we have done with strength and honor. But we’ve never experienced anything like the current crisis surrounding COVID-19. People are suffering physically, emotionally and psychologically. Many are also suffering economically. People have lost jobs, businesses have closed, the oil and gas industry is facing lows it hasn’t seen in decades, and events have been canceled.

We might not know the total effects of this crisis for at least several months. Therefore, my top three priorities during my term are to work diligently with the board as we address the variety of emerging challenges facing us during these unprecedented times; continue the search for a new general manager/president; and prepare a budget for 2021, which will be one of the most important budgets we will ever develop.

What is your previous work and life experience that you believe will help you in this role? Have you served on a government or other elected or appointed board previously?

Though this is my first opportunity to serve in public office, I have had the privilege of serving my community throughout my career. I am an ordained elder in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and hold B.A., M.A., M.Ed., and M.Div. degrees. I have served several churches under episcopal appointment: Christ United Methodist Church [in Sugar Land], The Woodlands United Methodist Church, and [I] am currently the lead pastor at Rose Hill United Methodist Church [in Tomball]. In addition to fulfilling many pastoral duties, I have also served on vision and planning teams, capital and stewardship campaigns, and finance committees. Before full-time ministry, I spent seven years in public education. I taught eighth-grade U.S. history; served as a social studies department chair; and coached football, basketball and track. These are a few important experiences that will help me in this role.

When and how do you think the township should return to its previous discussion of incorporation? Do you have a position on the topic of incorporation?

As of right now, I believe our primary focus should be on addressing the challenges within our community surrounding COVID-19. We have obtained some important and useful information from the study on incorporation, which I plan on studying in-depth. Should the township decide to resume the discussion on incorporation, I will approach it as I would any topic, with an open mind.

What other issues do you feel are of greatest importance in the township at this time?

As I stated earlier, people are struggling in a variety of ways. We need to open up the economy and get everyone back to work as soon and as safely as possible. Many are discouraged and despondent, feeling like they are at the end of their rope, at the end of their hope. I am deeply saddened by the rise in suicide. As a caring community we must become advocates for mental health. We have to look for ways to edify and encourage our neighbors, especially in light of the isolation so many people are now experiencing in these social distancing days. At the same time, we must become more aware of the pain around us and become informed of the signs of depression so we can reach out in care and concern. For those reading this right now, if you or someone you know is wrestling with despair, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255); if you need to, you can call me. You are important. Your life matters. This community needs you.

Do you expect to run for re-election when your time filling the unexpired term is up?