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4 incumbents sweep to victory in The Woodlands

November 7, 2018

The four incumbents in 2018 election in The Woodlands Township easily won re-election bids to the Board of Directors on Tuesday night after unofficial voting totals were released by both Montgomery and Harris counties election officials.

Board chairman Gordy Bunch and fellow board members John Anthony Brown, Bruce Rieser and Brian Boniface all won their re-election bids easily. Both Bunch and Brown were uncontested and nabbed 100 percent of votes cast. Rieser defeated challenger Francis “Frank” Dargavage and Boniface was victorious over Treva Taglieri.

The election was much different than in 2016, when Boniface, Rieser and Brown were first elected. That 2016 race was marked by the presidential contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, leading to huge turnouts of voters in the township races.

2018, though, was less intense of a campaign and there were few campaign events and little debate between the four contested candidates for the two seats on the board. The biggest issue of the year was no doubt the ongoing incorporation studies being done by the township, but candidates also discussed flood mitigation and traffic and mobility issues.

Rieser nabs 2nd term on board

Rieser won re-election to his Position 4 seat on the board in unofficial early voting results, soundly defeating challenger Dargavage by more than ??? votes not counting ballots cast on Tuesday.

The race pitted Rieser, seeking his second term in office, against Dargavage, who ran a very low-key campaign in which he pledged to not do much campaigning nor put out yard signs.

In unofficial voting results, Rieser had 19,433 votes, or 73 percent of the ballots cast in early voting, to Dargavage’s 7,104 votes, or 27 percent.

Rieser said he was both happy, excited and a bit relieved with his victory and the election coming to an end.

“I am happy. I’m glad it is over, it is such a grind,” the incumbent said of his re-election. “I love what I am doing and I am glad the residents of the township wanted me back for another term.”

Rieser, who was first elected in 2016 — defeating Chris Grice by more than 10,000 votes in that election — said his second term will be focused on what he said are the three biggest issues facing the township: incorporation, storm water drainage and mobility issues.

“We need to get a handle on those three issues in the next two years,” Rieser said Tuesday night.

Dargavage said he was obviously disappointed by the results of the election, but said he felt like he made valid points during the campaign that residents needed to hear.

“The election was fair and square,” Dargavage said. “The people have spoken. I think I got some good points across.”

The unofficial early voting results did not include totals from Tuesday’s voters.

Boniface also earns 2nd term

Boniface, who had faced one minor issue when a joke he posted on social media was labelled as insensitive by a township resident, easily defeated Taglieri, a self-described stay-at-home mother and former aerospace industry engineer, for his second term on the board.

The 2018 race was not as heated or intense as the one in 2016 when Boniface was first elected.

In the 2016 election, which was a presidential year that usually guarantees a higher turnout than midterm elections, Boniface defeated incumbent Mike Bass by less than 2,000 votes. Boniface had 17,124 votes in 2016 compared to Bass, who garnered 15,269 — making the race between the two the closest of the four races that year.

Boniface had 17,622 votes in the early totals, or 65 percent of ballots cast. Taglieri had 9,706 votes, or 35 percent of the vote.

Boniface said he was honored to be serving a second two-year term, and that he will continue to be an advocate for residents of the township in all issues he deals with.

“I’m just so honored to be re-elected for another term,” Boniface said.

Taglieri her loss was not a surprise, but she was proud of spreading a message of unity to voters throughout the township.

“Here we are tonight, no surprises. We already won regardless of the vote count. To my campaign director, fellow candidates, supporters, consultants, and my family, it was the honor of a lifetime to stand with you and for you,” Taglieri wrote in an email to The Villager. “And, for all my voters, I thank you for the confidence in my abilities.”

Uncontested duo win

Bunch, the current chairman of the township’s Board of Directors, won his fourth term in office with 25,257 votes, or 100 percent of those cast. The results did not include absentee ballots.

After the early voting totals were released, Bunch said he was happy to be re-elected, and he noted that not having a challenger allowed him to help other incumbents in the election — he had previous endorsed Brown, Boniface and Rieser in their re-election bids.

“It is an honor to serve your hometown and we’re excited for the next two years,” Bunch said Tuesday night.

Bunch said his immediate focus will be to continue the ongoing incorporation studies, gathering as much information on all aspects of the process in order to provide the most information possible for residents.

The 2018 election was a far cry from the 2016 election when Bunch faced two different opponents on his way to securing a third term in office. In that 2016 contest, Bunch received 20,830 votes, outpacing challengers Amy Lampman — who garnered 10,999 votes — and Bob Leilich who nabbed a paltry 3,147 votes in 2016.

The other unchallenged incumbent this year, Brown, was the unofficial winner of the Position 3 seat on the board and secured his second term on the board with 23,150 votes, also 100 percent of votes cast.

Brown initially did have an opponent in the race, but that candidate — Luis Granados — was removed from the ballot by state election officials in August after it was discovered he had not entered his length of time as both a resident of Texas and The Woodlands on his candidate filing form. In 2016, Brown defeated Stuart Schroeder with 19,842 votes compared to Schroeder’s 11,141 votes.

After the easy victory on Tuesday, Brown said he was excited to be re-elected even though he did not have an opponent.

“I was sweating it there,” Brown joked from his campaign party. “Really, I feel good. It is humbling being elected again and I am happy to be serving another two years.”

Brown said his focal points during the next two years are working on solutions to flooding and storm drainage issues, and to create more teamwork between the various entities responsible for flood mitigation efforts. The ongoing incorporation study is also a priority, and Brown said it will be critical to keep the process transparent for residents as well as provide as much information as possible.

The results of Tuesday’s election are unofficial until canvassed.

jeff.forward@chron.com

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