The Woodlands Township board of directors formally accepted the resignation of former Director Brian Boniface during a May 14 meeting.
Boniface verbally tenured his resignation of Position 2 from the board April 9 because he was called to report for the U.S. Army Reserves for six months. No action was taken at the April 9 meeting, as the resignation was not posted on the agenda originally.
However, a physical copy of Boniface's resignation had not been provided to Chairman Gordy Bunch or The Woodlands staff as of April 9. Bunch said Boniface had been considering resignation due to his orders, but Bunch was unsure if they would be rescinded.
The board nominated three people to the position at an April 16 meeting and chose Jason Nelson by a 4-2 vote. Nelson previously filed to run for Position 7 in the November 2019 race. Walt Lisiewski and Peggy Hausman were also nominated, and Lisiewski, who ran for a seat on the board in November,received two votes.
Director Bruce Rieser said there was no attempt by the board to circumvent the law in replacing Boniface.
"The board acted in good faith in all of these conversations," Rieser said. "Maybe the process could be more refined. ... It is my understanding this is the second time a board member has resigned, and it has been 12 years since the previous vacancy."
Don Norrell, president and general manager of The Woodlands, said the process used was recommended by staff.
"We did run into a procedural issue we didn't anticipate or know about," Norrell said. "I think this is something we will correct for the future. I certainly want to apologize to Director Nelson for any of the adverse publicity this has caused. This was all from a staff level. This was not board-driven. The responsibility here lies with me."
Throughout the public comment portion of the meeting, several residents called in to express objections to how the process was conducted when Boniface announced his resignation.
Several residents said they would like to see more opportunity for public comment on nominations.
Grogan’s Mill resident Bruce Cunningham said he felt the board should look to the approach that several local municipal utility districts use in filling vacancies.
“I would recommend the board establish policies for selecting replacements when there is a vacancy,” Cunningham said.
He said several area MUD boards included have asked for oral presentations for potential candidates and suggested the board consider a similar approach.
David Cassidy, who unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the township board of trustees in the November election, said he also thought it would be advisable to slow the process down.
“I think [the process] should be open, clear, transparent and have public input. Everyone would have a lot more confidence going forward. I think we need to get this right; not right now."
Amy Lecocq, chair of the local group TownshipFuture, which she said advocates on issues in The Woodlands, also spoke in the public comment portion of the meeting to ask that a letter from the group be posted as part of the record.
“TownshipFuture would urge the board to take this opportunity to establish a policy on filling vacancies and then use that policy to replace Director Boniface,” she said. “Township Future urges the board to proceed with the appointment process in an orderly manner that allows for public nomination, public comment and board transparency.”
The board voted in favor of approving Boniface's resignation and ratifying its previous actions April 16, 22, 27 and 30. Nelson abstained from the vote.
The Woodlands Township board of directors formally accepts Boniface resignation
The Woodlands Township board of directors met via Zoom for a May 14 meeting. (Screenshot via Zoom courtesy The Woodlands Township)