Ft. Bend Pct. 3 candidates discuss growth, flooding and more

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 10/13/20

Early voting is in progress and this year’s ballot is longer than prior years due to rescheduling May elections due to COVID-19. Among those elections on the ballot, Fort Bend County voters …

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Ft. Bend Pct. 3 candidates discuss growth, flooding and more

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Early voting is in progress and this year’s ballot is longer than prior years due to rescheduling May elections due to COVID-19. Among those elections on the ballot, Fort Bend County voters will have the option of choosing a commissioner for Precinct 3.

This position has been held by Republican incumbent Andy Meyers for 23 years and he is facing Democratic opponent Hope Martin in the election. Both candidates have extensive education and management experience and are active in the community they propose to serve.

Both candidates were concurrently provided with the questions below and asked to provide their answers by the same deadline and with the same word count limitations. Responses have been edited to fit in the word count limitations formatting where necessary.

Responses are listed alphabetically by the candidates’ last names.

Please tell us about yourself.

Martin: I am an Air Force veteran who is married with three children and two grandchildren. I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Technical Management from DeVry University and hold two masters degrees from the Keller Graduate School of Management – an MBA and another in HR. I also hold a doctorate of Education from Walden University.  I am a small business owner in commercial cleaning and have 15 years of experience in health care administration training health care professionals. I served on the 2017 and 2020 Lamar Consolidated ISD citizens’ bond committees.

Meyers: I have been married to my wife, Janet, for 52 years. We have three children and three grandchildren. I am a deacon at Sugar Creek Baptist Church. I hold an MBA and bachelors degree in IT and engineering, both from LSU. I am a CPA, financial securities dealer and real estate broker. I have have 30 years of management and financial experience. I am on the board of multiple economic development councils. I am a founder of Fort Bend Charities which has raised more than $2 million for local nonprofits and board chair for the Pro-Life Women’s Pregnancy Center.

Q: Property taxes are a significant expense and concern for Pct. 3 voters. What will you do as commissioner to keep property tax rates in check during your tenure if you win the Nov. 3 election?

Martin: I will form a taskforce to conduct a property tax evaluation to assess whether double taxation is occurring for residents. One of the items that the assessment will look at is residents who are paying taxes allocated to public safety to both the county and their HOA. I truly believe there is an opportunity to reduce the amount of taxes residents are paying for the same type of service.

Meyers: I led Commissioners Court in reducing the tax rate 32% from 66¢ to 45¢ as well as granting the maximum homestead exemption for homeowners.  I will continue to use my financial background and business acumen to keep spending in check so we continue to reduce taxes.  County taxes account for 15% of total property taxes.  I will continue to encourage school boards, city councils, and special district boards to reduce property taxes.  I worked with legislators to improve Central Appraisal Districts and will continue to work to have the Board elected, so the CAD Board members will be directly accountable to the voters.  I will continue to bring proposed legislation to Austin to require Houston to spend at least 25% of the $20 million in sales taxes it is taking from area residents on services for those taxpaying residents.  There should be “no taxation without representation” in Texas.

Q: COVID-19 has harmed many Pct. 3 residents, not only through sickness but economically as well. What will you do as commissioner to obtain state and federal support for the county’s economic recovery?

Martin: The county received $134.3 million from the federal coronavirus relief bill which $38 million was used for small business emergency assistance. If elected, I would ensure that money continues to be allocated to assist our local businesses who continue to be impacted due to COVID-19.

Meyers: We have already secured $134 million in federal funding for economic recovery and are petitioning the state for the other $100+ million to help our local businesses recover from the government-enforced shutdowns.  I secured more funding for business & individual economic recovery instead of more money going to government.

Q: What will you do as commissioner to aid locally initiated economic recovery efforts outside of state and federally-aided initiatives? 

Martin: I am extremely passionate about transitioning Veterans from the boots to civilian life. I would support a program which provides assistance with education, mental healthcare, jobs and small business opportunities within the local government.

Meyers: Continue to lower property taxes, continue to build/improve roads, get the US 36A thoroughfare, which I proposed, completed to connect Freeport, the only deepwater port on the Gulf Coast to Fort Bend County’s distribution/industrial center and beyond to bring the international trade now going to the West Coast to the Gulf Coast.  Limit government regulations and expenditures to remain business and development friendly.  I’m a Board member of both the Fort Bend and Katy Area Economic Development Councils and will continue to work with those organizations to bring more firms to the county to create more and better paying jobs.

Q: If you win this election, outside of economic recovery and drainage (see below), what will be your top three priorities as commissioner for Pct. 3?

Martin: 1. Reducing traffic congestion - As a Firethorne resident for 5 years, FM 1463 traffic has been a nightmare. There’s been conversations about expanding FM1463 since 2016 but no progress. Now that we have an apartment complex with 351 units opening on FM1463, it will turn our neighborhood into a parking lot. I will work with the Texas Department of Transportation to assess where we are with expansion and needed funding. As our precinct continues to grow quickly, it is time to move forward with completing mobility projects decided on over 4 years ago.

  1. Property Tax Evaluation - assessing opportunities to eliminate double taxation
  2. Smart Economic Growth - Precinct 3 is our fastest growing precinct. It is important that strategic changes occur to support growth and development. There are tremendous opportunities to leverage additional businesses into our precinct which will provide more jobs and stimulate our economy.

Meyers: 1. Continue to lower the property tax rate

  1. Continue to press for legislation to require Houston to spend at least 25% of the $20 million in sales taxes it is taking from area residents each year for services and infrastructure benefiting those taxpaying residents and allow residents to vote themselves out from beneath Houston’s control and control their own destiny.
  2. Continue my efforts to provide more roads and more law enforcement patrol.

Q: Partisanship at the county level has become increasingly vitriolic throughout the country, including Fort Bend County. Where do you see opportunities for bipartisan efforts in Fort Bend County to bridge the gap between the parties?

Martin: I really don’t understand why the role of the County Commissioner is even partisan on the ballot. There are issues such as flooding, traffic and economic recovery due to COVID-19 that impacts us all. I would have a vested interest in everything that is decided at the Commissioner’s Court. There is no such thing as a ‘Republican’ or ‘Democrat’ flood or pothole, instead, we all want to live in a community where we are safe and don’t have to worry about the next Harvey-like flood. I don’t want to increase anyone’s taxes as it will increase my own. It is for this reason, if elected, I will always base my decisions on the best interest of the public.

Meyers: I disagree with your premise about Fort Bend County.  Fort Bend County Commissioners Court members have worked together for the good of the county now with a 3-2 Democrat majority as it did with a 3-2 Republican majority four years ago.  We don’t always agree on every issue, i.e. I push back against more spending and higher taxes, but we always work things out.  We’ve come together to propose Mobility and Park Bond Programs that are on the November 3rd Ballot.  Last year we came together and secured an $83 million Flood Mitigation Bond Program that I proposed.  And, over the years we’ve come together to reduce taxes 32%.  That’s responsible and effective government.

Q: What drainage projects will you champion if you win the election in November and why?

Martin: It is anticipated that the Watershed study, which is evaluating the county’s streams, creeks, bayous, drainage districts, levee districts and infrastructure will be completed by the end of 2020. I would bring all of the entities together such as the Fort Bend Drainage District, Gulf Coast Water Authority, Willowfork Drainage and MUD representatives to review the results of the study and address our current flooding issues. The collaboration with these entities will bring about long-term solutions for our precinct to be prepared for the next Harvey-like storm.

Meyers: We have already secured $52 million for fixing the Willowfork of Buffalo Bayou, Cane Island Creek, and Oster Creek.  We sued the U.S. Corps of Engineers to get a Federal District Judge ruling that the Corps cannot flood private property, thereby protecting Kelliwood, Cinco Ranch, Grand Lakes, etc. from being flooded again by the Corps.  I got an $83 million flood mitigation bond program passed for county flood mitigation projects.  We submitted Federal Grant Applications for Bessie’s Creek and Jones Creek and will submit them again. I’m in a unique position as Chair of Houston-Galveston Area Council’s “Water Resources Committee”, where I’m working on regional flood mitigation solutions.  H-GAC is the regional planning authority and allocates federal and state grants.  I’m a Past Chair of H-GAC and come November, when I’m re-elected, I will have the most tenure and seniority on H-GAC’s Board.

Q: What message would you like to give to Fort Bend County residents in general?

Martin: When I decided to risk my life and join the Air Force, I did so to protect ALL Americans and that is how I continue to lead. As a public servant, you owe it to everyone to listen and address their concerns. Our community should have the confidence that their commissioner will not ignore or kick their concerns down the road. I am a results-driven leader who believes in bringing all the right people to the table (regardless if they agree with me) to address issues. I will bring integrity, accountability, innovation and transparency to the office.

Meyers: My focus is the safety and security of our residents, which is why I secured legislation allowing counties to levy sales taxes and I used them to fund 7 additional law enforcement patrols.  I have great respect from my peers who elected me Chair of H-GAC and vice-chair of Council of Urban Counties.  I was voted “Best Elected County Official” all 4 times the contest was held.  A commissioner’s main responsibility is building things like roads, bridges, libraries and I have more experience doing that than most any other commissioner in the state.

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