AP NEWS

‘Residents Advocates’ sweep Woodlands board, unseat Bass

November 10, 2016

The “Residents Advocates,” a slate of candidates including incumbent Gordy Bunch, swept The Woodlands Township Board of Directors election Tuesday in spite of a high-dollar campaign against them led by former board chairman Bruce Tough.

Position 2 incumbent Mike Bass was unseated by political newcomer Brian Boniface, while John Anthony Brown (Position 3) and Bruce Rieser (Position 4) defeated Stuart Schroeder and Chris Grice to fill the seats being vacated by Ed Robb and Jeff Long.

With the exception of the Position 2 election, the contests were runaways.

For Position 1, Bunch earned 22,209 votes (58.89 percent) to challenger Amy Lampman’s 12,046 (31.94 percent) and Bob Lelich’s 3,458 (9.17 percent).

Boniface received 17,940 votes (51.32 percent) to Bass’ 17,016 (48.68 percent).

In the Position 3 race, Brown earned 21,212 votes (63.51 percent) to Schroeder’s 12,186 (36.49 percent).

And in Position 4, Rieser garnered 22,732 votes (66.56 percent) to Grice’s 11,422 votes (33.44 percent).

Bass could not be reached for comment late Tuesday night after Montgomery County election results were delayed more than four hours after polls closed due to a problem tallying mail-in ballots, according to Elections Central.

The township election results bring a major shift to power on the board, where Bunch and fellow board members John McMullan and Laura Fillault have often been blocked in 4-3 votes by Bass, Robb, Long and Ann Snyder.

The win for the “Residents Advocates” came in spite of at least $244,000 spent in campaign advertising by Tough, who was unseated by Fillault last year. In the past several weeks, Tough’s nonprofit group, The Woodlands Concerned Taxpayers, showered Woodlands residents with advertising – including mailers, signs, billboards, online and TV ads – which endorsed a slate of candidates opposing the “Residents Advocates.”

The campaign warned voters of a 70 percent property tax increase should The Woodlands become a city now, which the literature claimed Bunch and his fellow “Residents Advocates” slate were promoting.

Bunch and the others decried this campaign as misleading, pointing out that incorporation and a tax increase were not on the ballot this election.

“I’m incredibly proud of our community for being able to decipher the truth of what was actually going on in our community given the onslaught of deceptive information,” Bunch said. “I’m honored to continue to serve the community and am looking forward to welcoming the new directors.”

For Boniface, unseating Bass despite the aggressive campaign was an incredible feat.

“This is a victory for The Woodlands residents,” he said. “We fought a $200,000 campaign against us. … It was David versus Goliath.”

Rieser believes the new makeup of the board will help residents of The Woodlands have more influence on the board.

“I’ve been here for 27 years; and it’s always been the developers get their way,” Rieser said. “The people are saying, ‘We want a seat at the table.’”

“The people have spoken,” said Rieser’s opponent, Chris Grice. “Now it’s time for us to unite behind our new board and move forward.”

Candidates Amy Lampman, Bob Leilich, Brown and Schroeder could not be reached for comment late Tuesday night.