AP NEWS

Two candidates vying to be elected as Humble Mayor

February 25, 2019

Applications have officially been filed, and two candidates are vying to be the next mayor of Humble.

Incumbent Merle Aaron, a retired contractor is looking to fulfill his second term as mayor.

Arliss Bentley, a retired English teacher from Humble High School, is also seeking the seat. If elected, Bentley could become Humble’s first woman mayor.

Early voting starts on April 22, and the election will take place on May 4.

Why run?

Aaron said he is seeking a second term as mayor to continue working on the projects the city currently has going on and to make new plans to help Humble grow while still preserving its history.

“We’re just so far down the road with these projects, and I felt like in one more term I could complete many of these along with our staff,” Aaron said.

Bentley said she has been thinking about running for the mayor since 2007 when she received encouragement from her friends and neighbors to run for local office. Since then she has attended almost every council meeting and beautification committee meeting to keep up with what is going on in the city.

“They were getting ready to have the election, and I kind of watched the pattern. And if nobody steps forward and runs against the incumbents, they cancel the election,” Bentley said. “They were getting ready to cancel this election because nobody had stepped forward, and I said ‘OK God, I’m stepping out of my box here.’ I just decided that this is the time to file.”

Background

Bentley has been in education for 40 years and says she will utilize her experience as an educator to lead the council.

“Teaching is a service. Even though you get paid it’s still a service,” Bentley said. “Maybe it’s time to be more of a service to the city; maybe it’s time. When you’re a teacher you have high expectations of your students; high expectations of what we want to do with the City of Humble. You have definitely have to be prepared and organized as a teacher otherwise the kids will eat you up. I feel like I’m organized and prepared.”

Aside from being Humble’s current mayor, Aaron has years of experience in the construction industry.

Aaron was a paving superintendent for the George Bush Intercontinental Airport back around 1967. Aaron was also a construction foreman in the Houston and Dallas areas. Since serving his first terms as mayor of Humble, Aaron said he has worked closely with the public works department on city projects.

“I’m very knowledgeable with construction. I understand underground, (and) I understand what it takes to make a system work,” Aaron said.

Initiatives

Aaron said he and other city officials will head to Austin soon to speak with local legislators about how legislation targeting property tax revenues — a priority for Governor Greg Abbott — will impact small cities like Humble.

“We’re very concerned about that because Humble’s property tax is only 24 cents (per $100 valuation),” Aaron said. “Most other cities like Houston they’re at least twice that and most of the time three times that. We would be handicapped if we couldn’t continually adjust up and down to where we can pay our bills and continue to go forward with our city.”

Aaron is also focused on finishing road projects on Townsen Boulevard, Wilson Road and Rankin Road. He and other city officials are also looking at ways to ease traffic in several parts of the city.

Something that is on the top of Bentley’s list if elected into office is giving residents a voice.

“At this point the residents can come and talk to the council members and the mayor, but I would like them to have more of a voice,” Bentley said. “Maybe the first council meeting of the month, maybe from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. we can have random residents sign up and talk for three minutes. I think think we’re missing a whole wealth of ideas of wonderful plans that the city can implement if the residents were allowed to talk.”

Economic growth

Bentley feels Humble is growing at a very past face and is worried about the impact it could have on the city.

“I want see Humble grow in an organized fashion whether it be the economic (development), or to improve downtown (and) make it more welcoming and beautiful,” Bentley said.

Aaron said in order for Humble’s economic growth to continue, the departments that make up the city as a whole would need to grow as well.

“What we have to understand is if we have the growth we have to have the capacity,”Aaron said. “It’s more than just water and sewer. We have to be able to relocate a different fire station, and we’re looking at that in the future, of putting a fire station further out south and that would keep us from depending on Fire Station No. 1 for everything because a lot of our growth is going to be on Rankin Road and some of the other areas.”

Voter support

Bentley feels voters should elect her into office for her passion for the City of Humble and her determination to know every detail about the city and the projects that can help Humble grow.

Meanwhile, Aaron said he knows that not everyone is going to understand or support his plans or goals for Humble, but that he always makes a choice that he believes are best for the city.

kaila.contreras@chron.com