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Election 2018: Woodlands candidate Dargavage challenges Rieser

October 14, 2018 GMT

As one of only two challengers to seek a seat on The Woodlands Township Board of Directors this year, candidate Francis “Frank” Dargavage believes his diverse life experiences as a military veteran, airline pilot and college instructor will help him if he is elected.

Dargavage, 74, has lived in The Woodlands twice during his life — an earlier three-year period was followed by his current 10 years as a township resident. The retired commercial airliner pilot worked for Continental for 18 years following a 22-year stint in the U. S. Air Force as both an enlisted airman and later a commissioned officer. He was also an instructor in economics at both the University of South Carolina and the University of Maryland, although Dargavage stressed he was not a professor.

In challenging incumbent Bruce Rieser, Dargavage said he understands he has a difficult task ahead of him, but explained he is running for a seat on the seven-member Board of Directors to “bring a new perspective to the board.” He also said he believes “long-term” politicians get complacent in their duties despite being what he called, “fine people” whom he respects.

“I was a leader,” Dargavage said of his time in the military and as an airline pilot. “I have a lot of leadership skills. The time commitment (to be on the board) is not an issue. I want to be a part of the expansion of The Woodlands…to bring a new perspective to the board.”

Dargavage said he believes if all four incumbents are re-elected in November, it would result in what he called “status quo” for the township. Aside from Rieser seeking another term, fellow board members Gordy Bunch, Brian Boniface and John Anthony Brown are also seeking re-election. Of the four incumbents, only Rieser and Boniface are being challenged. Brown did have an opponent initially, but that person — Luis Granados — was removed from the ballot after failing to report how long he had been a resident of both The Woodlands and the state of Texas.

A resident of the Village of Sterling Ridge, Dargavage said he has many concerns with the governance and direction of the township under the current elected official leadership. Some of his campaign issues, he said, include the cost of homes as well as what he believes is their inflated values in regard to property taxes; the disparity between new home construction and existing housing; and unknown financial issues facing the township in the future.

Dargavage also said he is staunchly against the township incorporating, and he also opposes an expansion or extension of The Woodlands Parkway and a proposed underpass at the intersection of Grogan’s Mill Road and Research Forest Drive.

“We do have a traffic problem. We certainly have a lot of traffic at certain times of the day,” Dargavage admitted. “I am not in favor of being annexed by Houston.”

While the township election may not have the prominence of state or national races, Dargavage said he would be willing to debate Rieser if the opportunity presents itself, but he added he has no plans to purchase campaign signs for supporters.

“I have enough name recognition in The Woodlands,” he said in explaining why he will refuse to utilize campaign signs. “We need fresh eyes and a fresh perspective (on the board)…I will do whatever it would take to be a fair and honest representative (of the people).”

The township election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 6. Early voting begins on Oct. 22 and ends on Nov. 2. Township directors serve for a term of two years and are not paid any compensation for their work.