AP NEWS

Communication, infrastructure tropics in council race

April 4, 2019

In the contest for Pearland City Council Position 5, incumbent J. David Little is touting council accomplishments from his term, while challenger Sheila Pope says she brings a fresh perspective and wants to help the city improve communication with residents.

Little, an attorney who has been in his post since May 2017, said that infrastructure improvements such as a wastewater treatment plant signal that the City Council has been proactive in planning for future needs.

“Anyone who has lived here for a while can see the growth, not only in population but in industry and in the economy as well,” Little said. “In order to keep up with that growth, we had to put money into things like infrastructure, fire, police and (emergency medical services), and we have to plan on doing that in the years to come as well.

“I know wastewater treatment plants don’t sound glamorous, but they’re important,” he said. “That kind of infrastructure is critical to the success of a city, and now it’s done. We’ve also worked to renovate some of our parks, our streets — other public places like that, all of which is important when it comes to the quality of life we provide for residents.”

If elected, Pope, a small-business owner and a licensed professional counselor, wants to help achieve what she considers as three essential goals — bringing awareness to residents regarding resources available to them, developing innovative ways to attract businesses that preserve the city’s small-town feel and creating programs that allow the community and businesses to work together in a spirit of inclusiveness.

Idea for communication hub

Pope, who is producer and host of the “Conversations with Dr. Pope” show on Houston Media Source Television, said that if she wins, she would like to spearhead development of a centralized communications hub for the city that incorporates tools such as television and social media.

“I’ve been talking with the Texas Land Office to coordinate and get information out to homeowners about potential grant money they might be able to get if they were affected by (Hurricane Harvey),” she said.

“This is something that should be very visible through the city, but I find that so many people don’t know about it. So, the city needs to be able to communicate those things to our residents better.”

Little was elected in 2017 to serve the unexpired term of Greg Hill, who resigned to make a successful bid for Judge with County Court at Law No. 1.

Little said he is proud of the council’s approval of an ordinance to thwart potential operation of illegal massage parlors that could be fronts for potential sex trafficking.

He said the ordinance provides rules for massage establishments that want to maintain a storefront in Pearland.

“You have to be able to see into their front window, their hours and licenses must be clearly posted — basically they became more regulated so that we don’t have issues down the road,” he said.

“We had received some calls from people who were concerned about illegitimate massage parlors,” he said. “When our officers checked it out, it wasn’t exactly what we thought it was, it wasn’t as bad, but it allowed us to take a step back and say, ‘We need to make sure that we keep this from happening because next time we might not be this lucky.’”

Continued focus on landfill

Little said that if re-elected, he will continue to push for an end to odors blamed on the Blue Ridge Landfill, which is to the west of Shadow Creek Ranch.

“This has to stop,” he said. “It needs to be taken care of.”

Pearland residents have complained of odors since 2915. The city has sued the landfill seeking corrective action. The landfill, owned and operated by Republic Services Inc., has said that it has taken steps to control odors and that it has implemented a plan reached with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for better site monitoring and community reporting.

Pope noted that few women have served on the city’s council.

“There have only been three women to hold a seat,” she said. “I know there’s a need for great community leaders and I bring with me a wealth of knowledge and community leadership, but I also think it’s time that there’s a female voice on council. How can we keep ignoring that voice? We need someone in there that can see things through a different lens but (who) carries the same intelligence — someone who can talk and collaborate with council.”

Addressing what some perceive as an east-west divide in Pearland, Pope said it is the council’s job to “bridge that divide and help everyone feel included.”

“You used to look out in pastures and see cows along 288,” she said, “and that’s a thing of the past. People like the small-town feel, but its also important for us to bring in businesses in an innovative way and bridge that gap between them and the residents, and I think we can do that. I have a small business.

“I’m pro small business, but it’s also important that we try to maintain the charm that brought people to Pearland to begin with,” she said.