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Council positions, bonds on mainland ballot - The Galveston County Daily News : Local News

November 27, 2014

Council positions, bonds on mainland ballot

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Posted: Saturday, May 10, 2014 12:45 am

From a $56 million bond referendum in Dickinson to a fire fee in Bayou Vista, from a heated council race in Kemah to contested single-member district races in La Marque and Texas City, there are 16 races on the ballot today in addition to those on Galveston Island.

Here’s a look at some of the top mainland issues.

Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.

All of the elections with the exception of those in the Dickinson and Clear Creek school districts are being conducted at countywide voting centers. Voters in Clear Creek or Dickinson school districts must vote at separate polling places.

 

Dickinson bond 

A growing community is putting pressure on the Dickinson school district to grow. 

To accommodate new students — district enrollment is projected to surpass 10,000 by the start of the next school year — district leaders are proposing to build a new education village featuring an elementary and middle school. 

But before walls go up and desks are bought, voters will need to weigh in on a $56 million bond proposal.

Voters have approved bond proposals in the Dickinson school district in 2007, 2005 and 1999. At the end of the last fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31, the district had $223 million in debt.

If approved, the district’s tax rate would increase by about 3 cents, from $1.54 per $100 of assessed property value to $1.57. The debt would be paid off in 30 years.

 

La Marque City Council 

It’s a three-way race for a seat on the La Marque City Council. Incumbent Councilman James Osteen is running against Deanna Bethea and Christopher Lane in a bid for the La Marque District B seat.

Osteen prides himself on being a budget hawk and said the city is on its best financial footing it has been in a long time. The city is in good enough shape to consider raises for employees, he said. 

“City employees are in need of raises,” Osteen said. “Our cash and reserve fund for operating the city has steadily increased over the last three years. I think this trend will continue.”

Bethea said there was room for improvement. She said she would like to see the City Council reach out to residents and to the La Marque school district.

“There needs to be some fresh ideas,” Bethea said.

Lane, a La Marque native, said there was a range of issues the city was facing — public safety, economic development, financial responsibility and the school district — and to face them different groups and organizations must pull together. 

“The first thing I would do is orchestrate a meeting with various leaders around the community to establish and define goals for the city along with an implementation process,” Lane said. 

 

Kemah City Council

There are three contested races on the ballot in Kemah, although one of the candidates in one of the races confirmed he won’t be eligible to take office if elected. The Council Position 1 race pits incumbent Rhonda Trevino versus Teresa Vazquez-Evans, while Mikal D. Williams challenges incumbent Carl Joiner in the Position 3 race.

Williams said that a past felony conviction that he thought was cleared from his record will prevent him from taking office if he does get the most votes.

In the Position 5 race, incumbent Steve Mewborn is challenged by Michelle Cochran. A proposed transit center and the leadership of the mayor are the issues driving the election.

 

Texas City commissioners 

Incumbent Thelma Bowie is facing challenger Johnny Hollowell for the Texas City commissioner District 1 seat. 

The district, also known as West Texas City, has seen a lot of growth, and both Bowie and Hollowell have said managing that growth was an important issue. 

Hollowell, a U.S. Coast Guard retiree, said he was proud of the growth on the west side. But Hollowell added he would not be afraid to listen to residents and take a stand on critical issues. 

“Many city residents are under the impression that the mayor ‘rules’ the city,” he said. “In fact, all legislation must receive the vote of every commissioner.”

Bowie, who has served as District 1 commissioner for the past two years, said the city has managed its growth well by creating and following strategic plans. 

“To control the city’s growth challenges, Texas City has had great success with creating its own future with the use of strategic planning and goal setting,” she said. 

 

School board races

La Marque, Hitchcock and Clear Creek school districts each have a school trustee position up for election.

In La Marque, Jim Malm challenges former school board President Annie Burton. The district’s ongoing financial and academic woes are the main issues.

In Hitchcock, school board President Dianne James is challenged by Chad Allen. Leadership of the district is the main issue.

In the Clear Creek school district, incumbent Win Weber is challenged by Nick Long in the District 2 race. Most of that district is in Harris County.

 

MUD 12 fire fee, sales tax re-up

For decades residents in Bayou Vista and Old Bayou Vista voluntarily paid a $15 monthly fee to fund the fire department. Now, proponents want to make the fee mandatory and have the ability to assess up to $17.50 a month per property.

While a part of Municipal Utility District No. 12, which is conducting the election, Omega Bay residents — who actually live in the city of La Marque — would not be assessed the fee. Those residents can still vote on the fee’s implementation, however.

Also in Bayou Vista, city leaders are asking voters to reauthorize the one-quarter percent sales tax that is used for city street repair. The sales tax must be reauthorized by voters every four years.