Election Guide 2015 - The Woodlands Township board Position 6 candidate QUESTION & ANSWER

The Woodlands Township board Position 6 candidate Questions & Answers







Paul Brown


Consultant tontopb@comcast.net
281-419-7334



What makes you the best candidate for this position? 


I am a 26-year resident who is sensitive to taxpayer interests. Independent of The [Woodlands] Development Co. and any other business that does business with The Woodlands Township, I will impartially represent taxpayers’ interests and apply common sense and deep business experience to township issues. I am a versatile business leader with proven management experience in sales, service, customer experience, operations, technology and organization transition. I spent 25 years with JP Morgan, then seven years as an executive in successful Internet startups. In 2007, I started my own consulting company.



What are some of the biggest challenges The Woodlands faces in the coming years?


The biggest challenges are rooted in communication and organization. I believe annual budgets should be submitted annually to taxpayers for approval. Directors should be completely independent of commercial entities that do business with The Woodlands Township for 10 years prior to standing for election. The Woodlands Township should have road management in the hands of a single commissioner, and the precinct should cover the township’s boundaries. We need township officials to articulate township positions on issues important to our community and to take an active leadership role in mobilizing taxpayer votes for elected officials in Montgomery and Harris counties who will be sympathetic to The Woodlands’ interests. The upcoming road bond has no funding for residential areas of The Woodlands.



What are some solutions the township could implement to help solve The Woodlands’ traffic issues?


The biggest issues regarding traffic in The Woodlands are access into and out of The Woodlands on Research Forest and Lake Woodlands drives and Woodlands Parkway and to the southern portion of The Woodlands over the Gosling Road and Kuykendahl Road bridges. Improvements for all of these roads should be included in the November road bond. Additional funding needs to be provided for turning lane improvements and traffic signals in the residential areas of The Woodlands. Without all of these improvement areas included in the November bond bill, residents should vote the bond down. The taxpayers in The Woodlands pay above 40 percent of the taxes in Montgomery County, and we should participate in a larger amount of the bond’s dollars.



Are you in favor of incorporation? Why or why not?


No, I am not in favor of The Woodlands Township becoming a city. The outsourcing model works great and is inexpensive compared to the cost of running a city. Our township officials should guide taxpayers to vote for Montgomery and Harris County officeholders who will favor The Woodlands’ interests. We pay a lot of both counties’ taxes.



Are you in favor of implementing bicycle and pedestrian lanes in The Woodlands? Why or why not?


Yes I am in favor of making The Woodlands a bicycle-friendly community on our roads. The problem is that The Woodlands does not control the roads; they are controlled by Montgomery County, and county officials in Precinct 2 and 3 have no interest in funding improvements to our roads for cyclists. Unfortunately, The Woodlands Township chose to fund a study on needs rather than press Precinct 2 and 3 commissioners to include a basic bicycle plan in the road bond. We need to press the commissioners for action. I myself have stopped riding because it is so dangerous out on our roads.


 





Matthew Burton


Strategy director, United Rentals Inc.
mburton801@gmail.com
801-319-0622



What makes you the best candidate for this position? 


I have a proven track record of advocating for residents on vital issues, even when that means taking on development companies and other powerful entrenched interests. I’ve fought the battles for residents even when the outcome was uncertain and it wasn’t politically expedient to do so. I led against the clear- cutting practices of the Development Co. in February of this year. Over 2,200 residents joined me on the petition, and we garnered a steady stream of media coverage in our advocacy for change. I also fought to defeat the May 2015 road bond that would have extended Woodlands Parkway. I was actively and publicly against the road bond from the start and rallied my supporters to the cause of defeating this bad policy at the polls. As the only Harris County resident on the board, I would bring a unique perspective to our board discussions and help create a healthy link between our community and Harris County leadership.



What are some of the biggest challenges The Woodlands faces in the coming years?


Clear-cutting and new development not consistent with George Mitchell’s vision for our community, traffic gridlock and incorporating as a city at the right time and in the right way.



What are some solutions the township could implement to help solve The Woodlands’ traffic issues?


Complete the bridges—Kuykendahl and Gosling—over Spring Creek to link Creekside Park with the other Woodlands villages. The gridlock created by the current narrow bridges is not only a nuisance—it is a safety hazard. Complete the Hwy. 242 and Lake Woodlands improvements that are proposed to improve traffic flow. Work with Montgomery County to get a smart road bond on the ballot for 2016 that includes essential projects but excludes the Woodlands Parkway extension, which nobody wants except developers. If our county officials refuse to work with us, then we may need to accelerate the timetable of incorporation so that we as a city can address our own road improvements directly.



Are you in favor of incorporation? Why or why not?


I believe we need to look at incorporation sooner rather than later. The Woodlands is consistently rated as the No. 1 city in Texas, but we’re not even a real city. There is a lot of fear-mongering on the part of the Development Company—and their elected allies—about incorporation because they don’t want to have their plans inconvenienced by city-controlled zoning and ordinances. Cost concerns with incorporation are valid, but with careful business planning these can be mitigated. Only with incorporation will residents gain true control over our community. Isn’t it time we govern ourselves?



Are you in favor of implementing bicycle and pedestrian lanes in The Woodlands? Why or why not?


The current system of bike and pedestrian paths are wonderful for getting around individual villages, but overall connectivity with other villages and with the Town Center could be improved. With additional links they could become a viable commute option during cooler weather for those so inclined. I believe we should also explore the option of a high-speed cycling multipurpose paved path along the Spring Creek corridor. We have the potential to create a world-class attraction that would add to our bike-friendly, active, outdoor community brand. While admittedly ambitious, such a path would have the potential to eventually extend over 30 miles and create a beautiful setting for high-speed cycling free from car exhaust and dangerous intersections.







Chuck Meyer[/caption]

Chuck Meyer


Technology and data privacy lawyer, Law firm of Chuck Meyer, PLLC electchuckmeyer@gmail.com
281-296-1680



What makes you the best candidate for this position? 


My training as a systems engineer in combination with my education and experience as a lawyer has given me the analytical skills necessary to perform effectively in a variety of areas, including public service. As someone who first moved to The Woodlands more than 20 years ago, I have seen much change in our hometown, changes for the most part that have been beneficial to the residents as a whole, with a few notable exceptions. I firmly believe that the better able one is to analyze a problem and to look at a problem from a variety of perspectives, the more innovative and permanent those solutions will be. How often have we heard candidates say that we need government to function more like a business? I have the dedication and the entrepreneurial spirit, as well as a set of well-honed legal and analytical skills, that I want to use to make The Woodlands an efficiently run hometown government—a government that addresses the needs and concerns of all the residents, not just those who are politically or socially connected.



What are some of the biggest challenges The Woodlands faces in the coming years?


The biggest challenge will be to resist the temptation to budget for additional expenditures that exceed, on a percentage basis, our growth rate. With the price of oil uncertain and the general state of the regional economy having a significant effect on property values, we need to tread cautiously and consider what levels of reserves we need to avoid increasing taxes in the future. The Board of Directors are the stewards of tax dollars that supply our treasury. Effective stewardship means anticipating the worst and ensuring that the effect of an economic downturn is weathered without resorting to raising taxes in any form. Planning in the times of fiscal uncertainty is a difficult undertaking but a necessary one that requires recognition of that uncertainty and the impact of a lackluster or worse economic picture.



What are some solutions the township could implement to help solve The Woodlands’ traffic issues?


We have little control over our mobility issues. For the most part those issues are addressed by our government leaders. Our power is derived from the power of persuasion and through direct and indirect lobbying of our county leaders to encourage regional planning authorities to take seriously our complaints with regard to mobility or the lack thereof. We need to establish, as a matter of high priority, respectful working relationships with the leadership of the county and encourage them to work with us, not against us, in addressing any number of issues, especially mobility.



Are you in favor of incorporation? Why or why not?


There is no easy, sound bite answer to the incorporation question, and anyone who states otherwise is either fooling themselves or seeking to fool others. I am generally in favor of a pathway to incorporation, especially if that is the only way to avoid annexation down the road. I have reviewed the enabling legislation that has created a very complex governmental entity called The Woodlands Township, and I have begun to investigate various intergovernmental relationships that are particularly relevant to answering this question. If, after a comprehensive review of the alternatives to incorporation as well as an assessment of the fiscal impact incorporation would have on our tax rates, we collectively determine that incorporation provides us with the greatest control over the future of The Woodlands at a cost that is not outrageous, I would support incorporation.



Are you in favor of implementing bicycle and pedestrian lanes in The Woodlands? Why or why not?


I view this expenditure as a form of oversight, implemented through road construction and enhancement rather than through a change in law or the adoption of an ordinance. I look forward to learning more about this issue from the biking coalition at their candidate forum on this topic. Once I learn more, I would be in a better position to comment on whether or not this expenditure would pass my test outlined above for involvement by The Woodlands, and whether or not this is more appropriately an issue to be resolved by the county.







Ann Snyder[/caption]

Ann Snyder


President and CEO, Interfaith of The Woodlands
snyderannk@comcast.net
281-367-9631



What makes you the best candidate for this position? 


Throughout my 26 years in this community, I have gained a unique perspective by listening to the voices of the residents—children, seniors, families and business owners. This has allowed me to be an advocate in protecting what we love most about The Woodlands. I have run a large nonprofit organization for 12 years. I helped govern a very large school district for 15 years. I have worked with spiritual, corporate and civic groups for decades, such as the Conroe ISD board of trustees for 15 years—two terms as president—chairman of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce board, The Woodlands Rotary Club’s first woman president and named one of Houston’s Most Influential Women 2015. I will continue to be the voice of the residents on The Woodlands Township board of directors.



What are some of the biggest challenges The Woodlands faces in the coming years?


There is too much traffic. We need traffic solutions that address the concerns of our residents and preserve our high quality of life. I will work to pass the November 2015 road bond. We must dedicate all necessary resources to maintain and enhance our quality of life while keeping our taxes low. The balance between sales, hotel and property taxes should be continually re-examined. The security of our hometown is a high priority for me. Our community thrives when residents feel safe. We must dedicate all necessary resources to keeping neighborhoods safe so that children and families can enjoy our parks, pathways and village centers in comfort. We must continue a high presence of law enforcement.



What are some solutions the township could implement to help solve The Woodlands’ traffic issues?


Pass the November 2015 road bond. Work with Harris and Montgomery counties and with the state of Texas to build better and safer roads for our growing community.



Are you in favor of incorporation? Why or why not?


I am a strong believer that the residents of The Woodlands should decide their own future regarding incorporation. I am committed to ensuring that all avenues for the future of The Woodlands are thoroughly investigated by the township board. I believe it is the responsibility of the board to educate the community. I trust the people to make a decision when all the facts are known.



Are you in favor of implementing bicycle and pedestrian lanes in The Woodlands? Why or why not?


When The Woodlands was designated “A Bicycle Friendly Community,” Le Tour d’ Woodlands was initiated under my leadership as a one-of-a-kind cycling event offering cycling opportunities for individuals and families. I am pleased to see the current study being done to consider bicycle lanes and will be interested in those findings.


 
By Julie Butterfield
Julie began freelancing with Community Impact in the summer of 2014. She became a full time reporter for The Woodlands in Oct. 2014. In April 2015 she was promoted to Senior Reporter for The Woodlands. Her coverage area, in additional to The Woodlands, is Shenandoah and Conroe ISD.


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