Photo: Jason Fochtman, Staff Photographer / Houston Chronicle
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— Editor’s Note: As of deadline Aug. 21, the photographs of four of the 11 candidates were not available to The Villager.
Voters in the Nov. 5 Township board election in The Woodlands will have many options to choose between after the final list of official candidates was published by officials. There are a total of 11 candidates vying for the three open board seats this year — three candidates are running for Position 5; four are seeking the Position 6 seat; and another four candidates are contesting for the Position 7 seat.
This year’s election is guaranteed to bring at least two new board members to the seven-member body that governs The Woodlands. Incumbent directors John McMullan, Position 5, and Carol Stromatt, Position 7, decided to retire at the end of their terms in November. The lone incumbent seeking re-election is Director Ann Snyder in Position 6.
Position 5 candidates
With McMullan announcing his retirement from the board after three terms in office, his seat is being contested by a trio of local residents: Walter Cooke, Rashmi Gupta and Shelley Sekula-Gibbs.
Cooke, who has resided in the township for 29 years, is an attorney and U.S. Army veteran. Cooke was, in 2005, honored as an Interfaith Hometown Hero, and he also served on The Woodlands Economic Development Partnership board and on the boards numerous nonprofit agencies, including the Montgomery County Youth Service, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion and The Woodlands Symphony Orchestra.
Gupta, a single mother and local real estate agent who has lived in The Woodlands for 22 years, has been active in many community entities herself, including The Hindu Temple of The Woodlands. She said after raising three children as a single mother, she wants to, “Give back to the community that supported me for the past 22 years.”
Sekula-Gibbs has only been a resident of The Woodlands for less than two years, however she is well known in the region from her three terms on the Houston City Council as well as serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for several weeks, one of the shortest terms in the history of the United States. A retired dermatologist, she said she is running for the board, “to build on George Mitchell’s vision of a sustainable, wooded sanctuary for people, pets, and nature.”
Position 6 candidates
The two-term incumbent Snyder is being challenged by three other candidates. Snyder has a long history of service in The Woodlands, including being heavily involved at The Woodlands United Methodist Church in various roles, serving on the Conroe Independent School District board and many other entities and organizations. In the past year, she has advocated for supporting law enforcement in the township as well as seeking solutions to the rising rates of suicide and attempted suicide in the county.
Tom Chumbley, who had originally filed papers seeking the Position 7 seat on the board, changed his candidacy in the weeks after his initial application to instead challenge Snyder for her seat. Chumbley, 44, has resided in the community since 2009 and works as a leadership consultant for his own personal company he founded. He said via an email to The Villager he felt changing his bid from Position 7 to Position 6 was a better political strategy and gives voters more options for new faces on the board.
A third candidate, Alan Richel, is also challenging Snyder. Richel had not responded to questions about himself sent by The Villager. He listed his occupation on his candidate filing papers as a retired international trade specialist who has lived in The Woodlands for more than 17 years.
The final candidate to toss their hat into the mix for the Position 6 seat is Louis Granados, who local residents may know as Luis Granados. The oil and gas industry professional has resided in The Woodlands for nearly 30 years and previously has sought a seat on the Lone Star College System Board of Trustees and, in 2018, filed candidate papers challenging incumbent Position 3 Director John Anthony Brown. Granados did not appear on the 2018 ballot in The Woodlands after his application was rejected due to leaving his length of residency boxes blank, which are required.
Position 7 candidates
Outgoing incumbent Carol Stromatt kept her promise to supporters by only serving one term in office. There are four challengers for her open seat.
David Cassidy was one of the last candidates to file for the Position 7 seat. According to his Facebook profile, he is a physical therapist at CHI St. Lukes Hospital, The Woodlands, and has resided in the township for almost 10 years. He is a graduate of Huntsville High School as well as Sam Houston State University.
Andy DuBois, the former editor and publisher of The Woodlands Villager and Courier of Montgomery County, is also seeking the Position 7 seat. DuBois currently works managing road and mobility projects for Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack. A long-time resident of the township, DuBois has been active in many area entities and charities in addition to his past duties at the two newspapers. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.
Walter Lisiewski was the first candidate to file papers for the township board. A long-time community volunteer, Lisiewski currently is chairman of the township’s Development Standards Committee, which oversees enforcement of the complex covenants system that governs exterior design and appearance standards in The Woodlands. Lisiewski is a U.S. Navy veteran, a graduate of the University of South Florida and has been on local municipal utility district and village association boards.
Bob Milner, co-founder of Mercedes-Benz of The Woodlands, is also vying for Stromatt’s seat. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Milner was honored as an Interfaith of The Woodlands Hometown Hero in 2017 and is the founding strategist of TerBo Consulting. Milner has served on area several boards, such as the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Montgomery County Crimestoppers, The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce and The Woodlands Arts Foundation.
The township election is Tuesday, Nov. 5. While the official ballot list is finalized, any township resident who wants to be qualified a a write-in candidate has until 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 23, to file their papers.