Brookshire candidates face the voters Saturday

By George Slaughter, News Editor
Posted 5/5/22

Brookshire voters on Saturday will go to the polls to decide who will hold three positions on their city council.

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Brookshire candidates face the voters Saturday

Posted

Brookshire voters on Saturday will go to the polls to decide who will hold three positions on their city council.

In all three cases, the incumbents are seeking reelection. Term of office is two years.

For alderman position 3, incumbent Kim Branch faces challenger Shirley Williams, who is retired. For alderman position 4, incumbent Lee Nelson Jones, a school employee, faces Amanda Neuendorf, a teacher. For alderman position 5, incumbent Eric Green, a field operations manager, faces challengers Jeremiah Hill, a consultant, and Ruth Rodriguez, a semi-retired administrative professional.

Williams and Jones were unavailable despite repeated requests for comment by press time.

Alderman position 3

Branch, who is married to Mayor Darrell Branch, was first elected to the council in 2008. She said she hopes to see more user-friendly procedures at City Hall to make things easier as Brookshire continues its growth.

“Everyone continues to think we can stay a small town,” Branch said. “We’re going to grow whether we want to or not.”

With that growth, Branch said, the city is going to “spruce up” and hire more police. More drainage is another issue. Branch said the city must work with the Brookshire Katy Drainage District and do its part to make it happen.

“We have to come together as a council and pay closer attention to this,” Branch said.

Branch said her husband, a former police officer, worked under Joe Garcia, now Pattison’s mayor, when Garcia was Brookshire police chief. When Garcia left Brookshire, she said, her husband became police chief. She said the cities can work more closely together.

“We’re going to feed off of each other,” Branch said. “There’s not a lot of communication with the City of Pattison. I am not faulting anyone, but I would like us to be able to grow together and have more communication.”

Branch said she has been on the council for 14 years and loves what she does.

“I love what I do,” Branch said. “I think I go above and beyond my duties as a council person. I would like to continue to serve as a council person. The reason I ran was because I am a citizen. I’d like to see our city on the news for something we did that was great.”

Alderman position 4

Neuendorf said focusing on commercial infrastructure would be a priority if elected.

“There’s a lot of growth in the city,” Neuendorf said, adding that the growth seems to be plenty of commercial warehouses, but not restaurants or entertainment. With this type of growth, she said, more semi-trailer and 18-wheelers are moving about on city streets not paved for that kind of traffic.

“The roadways themselves are not prepared for traffic at this point in time,” Neuendorf said, adding that she would like to see the city improve its relations with the Texas Department of Transportation.

Neuendorf said the city has an animal control problem.

“There are lots of posts to social media calling attention to lost dogs,” Neuendorf said. “I know we have an agreement with Waller County, but we used to have a Brookshire animal control shelter. It was a hold barn behind the police station. It has no floor, electricity or other plans to finish. I firmly believe it was built as a political ploy by our current city council. They built the building to solicit emotion without planning to finish it and make it function.”

Parks and drainage are another concern.

“The City of Brookshire pays a consulting firm to look at the situation,” Neuendorf said, adding that the consultant created a report that said the city needed 20 more acres of green space.

“There are lots of old rice fields that are being sold, and large commercial facilities are being built on them,” Neuendorf said, adding that this leads to major drainage issues. She said people need to know how to use appropriate programs if and when the next flood comes.

“During the previous administration, people didn’t know how to use, or they were afraid to use programs,” Neuendorf said. “You still see houses in disrepair and people say they didn’t think they should apply for FEMA for whatever reason. The drainage problem is not going away.”

Neuendorf said she would like to see Brookshire do something similar to what Katy did with Mary Jo Peckham Park. She said the city should find land that could be bought by the city and turned to green space. However, she said, due to the cost of such a project and the lack of financial foresight on the part of the Brookshire City Council, such a project must be done in multiple phases over a number of years.

Alderman position 5

Green, who also serves as mayor pro tem, said emergency services is a top priority. He said he remembered when the city couldn’t afford to put much money into the police department.

“When the police department doesn’t have much of a budget, the crime rate goes up,” Greene said. “We made tough choices, but when we provided the police department with it needed, a lot of the criminals chose to go to a different community. When the crime rate drops in the community, businesses come to you.”

Green also wants to see a fire department substation brought into the heart of the city. Presently, the Waller-Harris Emergency Services District 200 serves the city.

“With all this growth, I don’t see how that could hurt,” Greene said.

Green said he supported zoning, but cautioned that it would not happen overnight. He said he figured zoning in Brookshire would happen within the next couple of years.

“We have investors coming to the city, and they think something commercial can fit between two homes,” Green said. “I’ve seen elderly people hurt by that.”

Hill said he started to see more mismanagement at City Hall, and that little issues add up to bigger issues over time. He felt he needed to be involved in some way to bring about change, and that now was the time.

“A lot of members have been there a considerable amount of time,” Hill said. “It’s no longer a question of when development is coming. It’s already there.”

Hill said one of his goals if elected was to help bridge the understanding of what Brookshire could look like versus the city leadership accepting whatever comes in now.

“One of biggest issues is guided growth and development,” Hill said, adding that he would like to see a map with a targeted plan on what the community needs.

“There is no master plan that’s been developed to give to the Brookshire economic development Council,” Hill said.

Hill called for improved roads, which he said are in desperate need of being paved.

“There is not a dedicated maintenance plan,” Hill said. “We’re running from behind, so to speak, and we’re not even trying to catch up. We need a master plan to work with the public works department and we need to hire an outside firm to handle grass cutting so the public works department can handle drainage. As we keep flooding, it devalues our community.”

Like Neuendorf, Hill hopes to see relationships between Brookshire and Pattison improve.

“It’s frustrating for residents because they want to point their fingers at the city,” Hill said. “Too much of what I’ve seen is a take it as it comes, and not a proactive, approach. We have to have a government articulate what its’s doing behind the scenes, even if you can’t see results yet. There’s a lot of misperception about what the city is doing and what others are doing.”

For Rodriguez, this year’s campaign is her second bid for public office. She sought the mayoralty in 2018, but lost to Darrell Branch. He was first elected mayor that year and remains in that position.

Rodriguez said being a senior citizen gives her some perspective, and that she understands council issues better today.

“What the city might be up against is old habits, what the council is comfortable with,” Rodriguez said. “The elected officials just lost that connection with the citizens. Because of that lack of connection, were not really staying up with the times.”

Rodriguez said her passion is animal welfare, which she said hasn’t received a lot of care or priority.

“When the city council listens to our citizens and digest that information into data, they will know that animal control is important to a lot of us,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said her candidacy was not about ego or a desire for attention, but just about being an American.

“We the people run the city,” Rodriguez said.

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