Gandhi re-elected to Sugar Land City Council, 5 of 8 ballot initiatives pass

Updated at 11:25 p.m. May 8 with candidate's statement


With all 29 precincts reporting, Himesh Gandhi has won Sugar Land's City Council at large position 1 seat while Mary Joyce and Naomi Lam will face each other in a runoff election for at large position 2. Five of eight ballot initiatives also passed in the May 7 election.

Position 1

Incumbent Gandhi received 4,485 votes, or 56.27 percent of votes, and opponent Diana Miller received 3,485 votes, or 43.73 percent, according to the Fort Bend County Elections and Voter Registration Office.

"I’m very pleased that we got as many votes as we got. In my case I knew that running against Himesh was going to be very difficult," Miller said.

She said she and Sugar Land Mayor candidate Lloyd Myatt Hancock would need to turn their focus to supporting Lam in the runoff election.

Gandhi could not be reached for comment.

Position 2

In the Position 2 race, Joyce has received 3,427 votes, or 46.51 percent of votes; Lam received 2,555 votes, or 34.68 percent of votes; Ronald Block received 702 votes, or 9.53 percent of votes; and Peter Simons received 684 votes, or 9.28 percent.

"This has been a long and challenging race, but it looks like we have a little bit further to go," Joyce said in a statement. "We knew [a runoff election] was a possibility, and we are prepared for it.”

Lam said she would need a new strategy without Miller and Sugar Land Mayor candidate Lloyd Myatt Hancock on the campaign trail with her. All three candidates were running with support from Sugar Land Votes, a citizen group advocating against ballot Proposition 7 and for a 200-unit cap on multifamily housing units in new developments.

"I think the voters did not get [my message] so I need to work a little harder," Lam said. "I have to campaign almost every day now."

Because no one candidate got at least 50 percent of the votes in the at large position 2 race, a runoff election will be held June 11, according to the county Elections and Voter Registration Office.

Ballot propositions

Five of eight ballot propositions passed in the election.

Proposition 1 passed with 4,842 votes in favor and 67.39 percent of the electorate; Proposition 3 passed with 5,856 votes in favor and 78.84 percent of the electorate; Proposition 4 passed with 3,944 votes in favor and 54.90 percent of the electorate; Proposition 5 passed with 4,667 votes in favor and 65.25 percent of the electorate; and Proposition 6 passed with 5,555 votes in favor and 77.37 percent of the electorate.

Proposition 2, 7 and 8 failed. All results are unofficial until canvassed.

Posted at 8:25 p.m. May 7


Unofficial early voting results released May 7 indicate Himesh Gandhi and Mary Joyce are leading Sugar Land’s City Council races for at large positions 1 and 2, respectively. Position 1 incumbent Gandhi faces real estate broker Diana Miller, and four candidates are running for the at-large Position 2 seat currently held by Joe Zimmerman, who is running for mayor.

Early returns report Gandhi has received 2,937 votes, or 57.33 percent of votes, and Miller has received 2,186 votes, or 42.67 percent, according to the Fort Bend County Elections and Voter Registration Office.

In the Position 2 race, Joyce has received 2,273 votes, or 48.30 percent of votes. Naomi Lam  received 1,571 votes, or 33.38 percent of votes; Peter Simons has received 446 votes, or 9.48 percent; and Ronald Block received 416 votes, or 8.84 percent of votes. If no one candidate gets at least 50 percent of the votes, a runnoff election will be held. The runoff is scheduled for June 11, according to the county Elections and Voter Registration Office.

Position 1
Gandhi ran on his experience in City Council and his knowledge of the city's operations. The attorney from Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey law firm in Sugar Land is running for his third term.

Miller ran on the ticket of Sugar Land Votes, a citizen group concerned with maintaining a cap on the number of multifamily housing units in new developments. Miller said she was not a career politician but that she had stayed involved with the city’s development issues.

Position 2
In the at large Position 2 race, Joyce, Lam, Simons and Block are each running for their first term on City Council. Each said they were unsure of their chances. To avoid a runoff election, one candidate must receive at least 50 percent of the electorate, according to the Fort Bend County election administrator.

Joyce, a retired from finance and project management, has pushed for mobility options as the city grows while Lam, a real estate investor and also backed by Sugar Land Votes, campaigned for more growth in business development.

Simons, director of Artifacts Guru, highlighted his past experience managing the Sugar Land Regional Airport while Block, an attorney, emphasized his experience as a former Fort Bend ISD trustee.

Ballot propositions
Unofficial early voting results also show seven of eight ballot propositions were passed. Propositions were to amend sections 1-3 of the city charter, specifically topics related to charter constitutionality, City Council term limits and vacancies, and the responsibilities of council members.

Proposition 1 clarifies the charter to say it remains whole even if another section or sentence is declared unconstitutional. The initiative is passing with 3,194 votes in favor and 69.72  percent of the electorate.

Proposition 2 increases the current two-year terms for council members and mayor to three-year terms, change the term limitations from four consecutive terms in a nine-year period to three consecutive terms in a 10-year period, and clarifies that the term limitations apply to one person holding any single position, according to the city of Sugar Land.

The changes would take effect as of the May 2017 election for district positions and as of the May 2018 election for the mayor and at-large positions. The initiative is passing with 2,387 votes in favor and 50.16 percent of the electorate.

Proposition 3 allows vacancies for terms greater than 12 months to be filled by election, an initiative which is passing with 3,782 votes in favor and 80.18 percent of the electorate. Proposition 4—which is passing with 2,650 votes in favor and 57.72 percent of the electorate—clarifies City Council’s powers to include exclusive jurisdiction over all public property.

Proposition 5 amends the charter to add a new section titled “Interference with Management” to prevent the City Council and its individual members can interfere with the daily operations, direct or give orders to city employees supervised by the city manager except through the city manager. The initiative is passing with 3,062 votes in favor and 67.05 percent of the electorate.

Proposition 6 adds definitions for the words and phrases “city council,” “council,” “council member,” “member of the city council” and “member of the council” for consistency throughout the charter. The initiative is passing with 3,613 votes in favor and 78.77 percent of the electorate.

Proposition 7 changes the required petition percentage for initiative and referendum from “a number equal or greater than 30 percent of those voting in the last city election” to “at least 15 percent of the registered voters of the city as of the initial petition date,” according to the city.  The initiative is failing with 2,346 votes in favor and 51.64 percent of the electorate.

The initiative would increase the threshold required for a petition to be a ballot initiative or referendum, to which Sugar Land Votes is opposed.

Finally, Proposition 8 amends to the required petition percentages to recall the mayor or an at-large council member from 25 percent to 15 percent of the registered voters of the city as of the initial petition date. The proposition also amends the required petition percentages to recall a single-member district council member from 20 percent to 15 percent of the registered voters residing in the district as of the initial petition date.

The initiative is passing with 2,304 votes in favor and 50.63 percent of the electorate.

All results are unofficial until canvassed.