Pattison voters to decide two contested city elections

By George Slaughter, News Editor
Posted 4/6/22

How to deal with its growth is at the heart of the May 7 Pattison city election.

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Pattison voters to decide two contested city elections


How to deal with its growth is at the heart of the May 7 Pattison city election.

The election features the first contested race in 21 years, Mayor Joe Garcia said. He is seeking reelection against Position 4 Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Seth Stokes.

Garcia, a retired officer and former Brookshire police chief, was elected mayor in 2016. He has been re-elected every two years since.

Stokes, who owns a printing business in Houston, was appointed to take Garcia’s old seat on the council. He’s been reelected in 2018 and 2020.

In another contested race, Position 2 Councilmember Frank Cobio, a teacher, is running for reelection against challenger Anissa McGowan, a realtor.

Cobio served on the Royal ISD school board from 2000-10, before being defeated for reelection. He was appointed to a council vacancy 2011 and was elected in 2012 in his own right. He’s been re-elected every two years since.

This is McGowan’s first campaign for public office.

Position 1 Councilmember Wayne Kercher, who is retired, and Position 5 Councilmember Randall Flowers, and environmental engineer, are unopposed in their re-election bids.

Garcia said his goal, if re-elected, was to turn the city’s recently issued comprehensive plan into a reality.

“That plan is a result of a number of town hall meetings and community surveys,” Garcia said, adding that a consultant helped with the city’s planning commission. “We had input from a variety of sources. We want to take that plan and make it a reality.”

Garcia said property taxes should only be implemented as a last resort.

“At some point, we may need to ask the voters to consider a property tax,” Garcia said. “It shouldn’t be without a defined purpose and specific need. I think we need to work on and improve sales tax revenue to offset the cost of services. Many in our community are on fixed incomes. We need to look at the situation before resorting to property taxes. There are communities in Texas without property taxes. We may need it, but let’s have a reason for it.”

Garcia said he believed the city can negotiate managed growth with developers to incorporate law enforcement into master planning for the area. The city presently relies on the Waller County Sheriff’s office and Waller County Constable for law enforcement.

“If you look at the subdivisions around Katy, many of them have contracts and pay for extra law enforcement,” Garcia said, adding that officials should look into expanding this concept to the newer subdivisions, and coming up with the fees to offset the costs.

Stokes said his top priority for the city would be funding. No property tax in Pattison means no revenue stream to pay for infrastructure.

“We have no sewer system,” Stokes said. “No city work system. No law enforcement.”

Stokes said he felt some sort of a city tax or property tax would be likely in the future, and they are all being considered.

“Down the road, something’s going to happen, regardless of who is in there,” Stokes said.

Stokes said another priority of his is foundational projects.

“It’s one of those kingpins that have to fall before other things can happen,” Stokes said. “A lot or some of the previous councils from 15-20 years ago didn’t want that kind of growth. If you stop a sewer system, you stop the rest of it.”

The new neighborhoods that are coming in east and northeast of the city, he said, are putting in their own water systems, and that’s lost revenue for Pattison.

“It really all boils down to funding from the city,” Stokes said. “If we don’t have the money, we can’t do anything. A sewer system in a police department rely on funding.”

Stokes and Garcia said the city has applied for grants to supplement expenses for selected projects. But Stokes said the entities won’t give grants because the city has no revenue stream to maintain and keep those projects going. The funding stream comes first, he said, and even if the city did that today, there would be no funds for a year or so. These things should have been done earlier, Stokes said.

Stokes said he would also work to improve the relationship between Pattison and Brookshire city leaders.

“The cities don’t work together,” Stokes said, adding that much of this goes back to when Garcia was Brookshire police chief and Darrell Branch, today Brookshire’s mayor, was a police officer there.

Garcia disputes Stokes’s characterization of the Pattison-Brookshire relationship.

“I think our relationship is good with other communities,” Garcia said. “I think we have a vested interest in many areas that are common to us, such as schools and traffic. I think he’s trying to create an issue that doesn’t exist. We welcome more mutual efforts with the City of Brookshire. I don’t have problems with the city of Brookshire. I would like to work with them more.”

Both Stokes and Garcia said Pattison and Brookshire have a vested interest in each other’s success. Stokes said Brookshire’s success is Pattison’s success because the two cities were always going to be attached.

Garcia agreed, suggesting that Pattison and Brookshire are similar to Bryan and College Station. Those cities, he said, are always right next to each other, and both cities benefit or get hurt depending on what happens.

Cobio agreed that dealing with the growth is Pattison’s biggest challenge. Still, Pattison’s small-town feel is a key selling point for those moving from Houston.

“I feel people like it because it’s so relaxed,” Cobio said. “It’s a rural area.”

Cobio said Pattison must come up with money to maintain things. He said he thinks property taxes will be in Pattison future.

“I’m not sure when,” Cobia said. “We have discussed it. We really haven’t set it up yet. It could happen next year, or in the next few years. I guess it depends on the growth of the community.”

McGowan said the city’s biggest challenge is that it has no public sewer system.

“We have the growth coming,” McGowan said. “There’s a lot of growth coming west.”

McGowan said she was part of the planning commission that created the comprehensive plan.

“We worked on it all last year,” she said. “That project turned out really good.”

McGowan said the lack of a septic system has discouraged businesses from considering Pattison.

“Once you get that, you can attract more businesses, because that’s an issue,” McGowan said.

Asked how to pay for a septic system for Pattison, McGowan said she wanted to look at all options before placing a city tax on the community.

“Property taxes are pretty high in Waller County,” McGowan said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted McGowan as saying that Pattison and Waller County property taxes are high. Pattison has no property tax. Waller County does. The Times regrets the error.

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