With Sealy Mayor Janice Whitehead resigning because of a move out of the city, a special election is being held Nov. 3 to fill the remaining 2.5 years of her term.
Two candidates have filed for the seat and will be on the ballot. They are former mayor Nick Tirey and former county judge Carolyn Bilski. The Sealy News posed questions to each candidate and their responses are as follows.
What should be the city’s approach to growth?
Bilski: Sealy’s location on Interstate 10 and State Highway 36 make growth inevitable. The city’s approach should consist of encouraging quality growth that provides jobs and adds to the tax base but does not destroy the quality of life citizens and new residents expect.
Tirey: Growth is not the problem. Good growth is what we want and need. Growth is coming no matter what. If we do nothing, it’s still going to come. So, we need to pick and choose what we want and where we want it. We also have to be strong enough to tell a developer that we don’t want them or their project is not in the right area. We had a 20-year Comprehensive Plan. We used it for about five years and then it was put on the self and forgotten about. It’s time to get back to the plan that the citizens approved. Plan the work and work the plan.
How should the city handle drainage issues?
Tirey: Drainage issues are the same. Sealy has been working on drainage FOREVER. Again, we had a Master Drainage plan that was in place when I left six years ago only to have it put on the shelf the last five years. Time to up-date the plan and work the plan. Quit doing studies and work the plan!
Bilski: Over the years many drainage plans have been designed at taxpayer expense with very little follow through. A part of one of these plans is the current drainage fee residents pay on their utility bill. These funds have financed some of the current drainage projects. It is critical future development must contribute to this fund to minimize flooding and protect property.
Should the city have a zoning ordinance? Why/why not?
Bilski: Zoning was voted down by the citizens more than a decade ago when the citizens presented a petition for zoning to be placed on a ballot. A number of ordinances were subsequently adopted to protect neighborhoods and property values. If there is interest from the citizens again, a petition is the best way for citizens to have a voice in this important decision. Zoning – like the current ordinances in place to protect the public – will have no value if multiple variances continue to be given on critical quality of life protections.
Tirey: Zoning – in years past this was a taboo. But now it’s become quite evident that we need to have more control on where development takes place. You can guide a lot of it by infrastructure. However, we have to be able, as a council and city, to have informed and educated discussions on zoning. Ultimately, this issue has to be decided by the voters. It’s our responsibility to inform the public and let them vote on it. The sooner the better.
What would you like to accomplish in this term?
Tirey: If elected, I want to have our Comprehensive Plan in place and working. I want the Master Drainage plan in place and working. I want to bring a better quality of life to Sealy and its citizens. This includes, subdivisions, not apartments, this includes eateries that are not hamburgers or Mexican food. We need H.E.B. or whoever to get here. We need a place to buy clothes. We need to invite an atmosphere where small businesses can thrive as well as major companies. Create jobs so that our citizens can live, grow, work, play and pray here in Sealy. Our downtown area needs to be a destination point for people to come visit and spend money. When the water rises, all boats rise. So, in closing I’ll simply say, “Let’s finish what we started.” Let’s make Sealy a community that we’re proud of and that other cities look at as an example of how to guide its growth in a positive image.
Bilski: As a native of Sealy, I plan to live here the rest of my life. Our city’s future is important to me and our citizens. I have no personal agenda nor financial gain in seeking this position. My goal is to work with the council and staff to maintain the highest quality of life while managing the growth of population and tax base in a financially responsible manner.