Early voting in the June 23 Bryan and College Station city council runoff elections begins Monday and continues through June 19. Even if you didn't vote in the May 12 city and school elections, registered voters may cast ballots in the runoffs.
Voters in Bryan will elect two council members, while those in College Station will select one. All three races pit former council members - recent and not so recent - against candidates who have not held elective office.
Before the May 12 election, The Eagle invited local candidates in contested races to meet with the Editorial Board to discuss the candidacy, their philosophy and their vision for the future. All but one did so. Each interview lasted about an hour, and candidates were invited to share any information they felt was important to their race.
Today, we make recommendations in the three runoffs. Two are the same as before the May 12 elections. One is new because the candidate we recommended did not make the runoff.
Our recommendations are but one source of information voters should consider when going to the polls. Other sources might include voter guides, candidate forums, news stories, campaign advertising and literature and the recommendations of friends and co-workers.
However you decide to vote, we encourage all registered voters to go to the polls, either during early voting or on election day. The candidates offer differing visions for their communities and different plans on how to achieve them. The decisions to be made by the voters are important.
In Bryan, people may vote early from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 18 and 19. All early voting will be at the Bryan Municipal Building.
In College Station, voters may cast early ballots at either City Hall or the city utilities office at 310 Krenek Tap Road. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 18 and 19. There is no Saturday early voting in College Station.
Here, then, are The Eagle's recommendations:
Single Member District 2
Paul Madison vs. Mike "Miguel" Flores - Madison served five years on the Bryan City Council before resigning to run, unsuccessfully, for Brazos County commissioner. He did not meet with the Editorial Board this year, but he has met with us several times in the past. During his time on the council, Madison seemed more willing to go along with the majority than to raise questions important to the people in Single Member District 2. He says the city's aging infrastructure needs to be replaced but seems satisfied with the pace of upgrades to sewer and water lines and streets. In the past, he also suggested code enforcement personnel should ignore low-income areas of the city because meeting codes puts too great a burden on residents there. His own scrap- metal business has violated code ordinances for several years.
Flores has run for the council once before and shows a knowledge of many issues facing the council in the future. His main focus seems to be on the city's ISO rating, a measure of fire and ambulance emergency response time. He calls for greater planning in locating new fire stations so that the entire community has faster response in an emergency. He also wants the council to promote a living wage initiative in the community, perhaps insisting that businesses recruited to Bryan pay what many term a living wage.
Both candidates know Single Member District 2 well, but Mike Flores seems more aggressive in his plans for the district and the community as a whole.
The Eagle recommends a vote for Mike "Miguel" Flores for Bryan City Council, Single Member District 2.
Single Member District 4
1-year unexpired term
Lloyd Joyce vs. Ann Horton - This race is for the final year on the term of Mark Conlee, who resigned to run, successfully, for mayor on May 12. Joyce served on the Bryan City Council and as mayor in the late 1970s. He is a leader in neighborhood efforts to enact a new ordinance limiting to two the number of unrelated people who can live in a single-family residence. He said the city must enforce its codes fairly and must maintain its basic services. He said that incentives to attract new businesses should be used sparingly and that taxes need to be kept in check.
Although she hasn't run for office before, Horton has a good grasp of the issues facing the council. Her experience working with the Texas Transportation Institute for 17 years would add valuable experience to the council. She is a strong proponent of bringing new businesses to expand the city's tax base, but she cautions that the infrastructure needed to support any new business must be in place before it opens.
Joyce served the residents of Bryan well in the past. His vision for the future doesn't seem to be as far-reaching as that of Horton. She wasn't our first choice on May 12, but of the two remaining candidates, Horton seems to have a clearer idea of where the city needs to go.
The Eagle recommends a vote for Ann Horton for the Bryan City Council one-year unexpired term in Single Member District 4.
1-year unexpired term
John Happ vs. John Crompton - This race is for the one year left on the term of Ben White, who resigned to run, successfully, for mayor. Happ served five years in Place 2 on the council until replaced in May by returning Councilman James Massey. Because of term limits, Happ can serve only one more year on the College Station Council before having to sit out at least a year before running again. Thus, his decision to file for the one-year term in Place 1.
Although Crompton is making his first run for public office, he has served on numerous city committees and commissions, including 11 years on the Park Board, capital improvement committees in 1986 and 1998 and committees on park planning, green ways, streetscapes and comprehensive planning. He is a recognized as one of the world's top experts on parks and recreation.
Crompton favors a city convention center, but only if it is built adjacent to Texas A&M University and only if A&M participates in the cost. Rather than build a new city center on Krenek Tap Road, Crompton said he would like to expand City Hall where it is and build a city senior center on the Krenek Tap property. Because of the university's importance to the community, City Hall should remain close to A&M, he said.
Happ also favors a convention center, although he is opposed to the current plan - which is slow in developing - at Northgate. He things the idea should be tabled until a private partner steps forward with a workable concept. Happ wants to push forward with plans for a city center on Krenek Tap Road.
Transportation issues are important to both candidates. Happ has been a leader in dealing with such issues during his tenure on the council, working with other local and regional governments to find ways to fund the costs of necessary roads and road expansions. He favors a special 1-cent sales tax that would have to be authorized by the Legislature and approved by local voters to pay for specific projects. When the projects are completed, the tax would disappear. Crompton prefers a local fund to pay for one-time projects approved by voters. Once the projects were done, the fund would go away.
Crompton wants the city to develop more green space to accommodate growth, charging residential developers more to pay for parks. He also wants more medians with trees in new roads in the city. Happ also wants to see more park land and wants the city to participate in developing large regional parks to attract visitors from throughout the state.
Crompton brings great passion to the race, but he acknowledges that he isn't sure he will find satisfaction in serving on the council. He also typically spends much of his summers in his hometown of Liverpool, England. After five years on the council, Happ obviously has the commitment and the experience to serve the residents well.
The Eagle recommends a vote for John Happ for the unexpired one-year term in Place 1 on the College Station City Council.