With all the votes tallied, the candidates with the most votes in the race for the three commissioner seats with Harris County ESD No. 9 are Jeremy Martinson, Betty Boren Avery and Scott DeBoer. DeBoer finished with the most votes at 482, or 22.48 percent. Martinson got 472 votes and Avery got 337 votes, for 21.99 percent and 15.7 percent, respectively.
A total of 11 candidates threw their hats in the ring for the three seats, including two incumbents, Mike Larrivee and Kevin Kyle. David Langenberg racked up the fourth most votes with 211, while Larrivee and Kyle were next with 172 votes and 148 votes. A total of 2,146 votes were cast.
Martinson and DeBoer have both served as firefighters with the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department, Martinson having served as district chief in the past. Both candidates said they decided to run because they believed current ESD board commissioners overstepped their bounds in trying to manage the CFVFD. They both advocated for running the ESD in a way that focuses on planning but allows the CFVFD board to make its own decisions, including selecting its own leadership.
"We need to maintain strict governing guidelines between the ESD and the fire department and respect the boundaries between the two," Martinson said at a May 1 candidate forum. "There needs to be a complete separation."
As a firefighter, business owner and home owner, DeBoer said he would be able to bring different perspectives to discussions between the ESD and VFD. He emphasized the importance of improving services to maintain the department's ISO rating through growth and expressed a desire to create better incentives for volunteers.
Avery's background in local government includes service as a Republican precinct chair, as chair of the Military Partnership Committee and as a panel member of the Conservative Coalition of Harris County.
Avery ran on a platform of keeping taxes low, improving transparency for board meetings and reinstating a sales tax exemption on telecommunications services that the previous board decided to remove. The ESD is projected to bring in $6-$8 million more in revenue than expected, causing several candidates to argue that the removal of the exemption was unnecessary.
"I do not believe in raising taxes and think we need to reduce taxes," Avery said at the forum. "If we have excess revenue, why did we need to remove this exemption? I believe that would be one way of returning that money to our taxpayers."
The ESD board is made up of a total of five commissioners who serve alternating four-year terms. Commissioners meet once a month at a public meeting and are responsible for collecting taxes so the district can fund the delivery of services for the fire department. Board members are also responsible for managing the department's annual budget. Meetings are held at the ESD No. 9 business office at 9630 Telge Road, Houston. More information can be found at www.hcesd9.org.
Commissioners Bob Janusaitis and Suzanne Davis will be up for election May 2016. New commissioners will be sworn in June 1.
All results are unofficial until canvassed.