Oak Ridge North election profile: Jim Kuykendall, mayor
Oak Ridge North incumbent Mayor Jim Kuykendall has spent his entire life in leadership roles, from city committees to civic organizations and a even being a church elder.
The 62-year-old father of two began serving the Oak Ridge North community as mayor in 2010 after former mayor Joe Michels became a member of the Conroe Independent School Board of Trustees. Since then, Kuykendall - a Mineola, Texas, native - has served out three terms and is running for a fourth term to lead the community of 3,000 residents.
“I love the community itself,” Kuykendall said. “I love that we really are a hometown. We are right in the very epicenter of the biggest growth in the United States. And yet, even with our mobility issues, we are able to maintain a small town feel.”
The incumbent mayor acknowledges that fixing traffic problems — specifically those on Robinson and Hanna roads —in Oak Ridge North is still a huge issue that leaves many residents feeling frustrated.
“We have a plan for Robinson Road,” Kuykendall said, noting that the plan had dramatically changed over the years. “The plan has gone from ‘Let’s have a five lane road with a turning lane in the middle and take out some of the houses.’ That’s how all this stuff started. People thought that we were going to tear their houses down. That was just discussion. It wasn’t fact.”
The city, Kuykendall said, is partnering with Montgomery County and the state of Texas to redo the Woodlands Parkway overpass to make it easier for folks to get on Interstate 45 North by taking out the traffic circles. The city is still seeking funding for the projects, he said, adding that the city will not incur additional debt.
Kuykendall also said that the city has actually reduced debt by $1.9 million in the last five years and has only taken on debt to fund projects that were essential to the city.
“Our water system — our water tanks were condemnable by state standards, so we had to get a new water plant,” Kuykendall said. “The sewer rehab was all ancient infrastructure. So the only debt we had was infrastructure stuff that we absolutely had to have.”
Kuykendall, who is retired from railroad management and runs a mediation practice, has been married for 40 years. He and his wife have two daughters and six grandchildren. The couple attend Grace Crossing Church, where Kuykendall is an elder.