ANGLETON — Two first-time office-seekers are planning to use their past experience in the community to guide their endeavors in the quest to gain the Position 4 city council seat in Angleton.
Army veteran Cecil Booth and Assistant District Attorney Travis Townsend will face off in the race for Angleton City Council in the May 4 election.
Townsend, 40, has been an assistant district attorney for Brazoria County since 2005. Originally from Beaumont, he’s been a resident of Angleton for the last five years, where he’s been a member of the Angleton Planning and Zoning Committee. Townsend and his wife, Michelle, have three children and are expecting their fourth in September. In his spare time, Townsend coaches soccer and runs in different races around town.
Booth has been active in the Angleton area since moving there 1985. He and his wife, Ann, have four children, all graduates of Angleton High School. Booth coached Little League for 11 years and softball for three years. As a veteran of the Army Reserves and a civil engineer, Booth said he plans to be a proactive voice in the community as a councilman.
The winner will serve a two-year term and be paid $100 a month. Early voting continues through Tuesday. Election Day is May 4. Candidates were sent identical questionnaires. Their responses are presented here, in alphabetical order, with minimal editing.
Downtown Angleton has seen a significant resurgence with small shops. What other areas of the city need similar revitalization efforts and how can the city help bring it about?
BOOTH: A major area of Angleton which need revitalization is the Mulberry Street (South Highway 35) corridor. The shopping centers near the Mulberry Street/Downing Road intersection have been nearly vacant for several years with only a few retailers remaining. The grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, etc. which were located there either closed or relocated to the Velasco Street (Business 288) corridor.
Increased city population will increase the demand for local businesses to serve these households. Tax incentives for businesses to move into these vacant localities should be considered.
TOWNSEND: Much credit and praise needs to be given to those individuals and groups that have invested time and money in downtown Angleton. They have vision, saw an opportunity, and the rest of Angleton will benefit. Likewise, the Highway 35 corridor in Angleton is not only close proximity to downtown but is also home to both businesses and residents. Similar to downtown, this area provides both growth opportunities for business and residential living.
As part of city council, it will be vitally important to continue to improve and update the drainage and roads in these streets and surrounding neighborhoods. If the infrastructure is improved, this location becomes more desirable for businesses and homeowners. City council along with the City Manager have already announced plans to address some of the areas with improvements by resurfacing roads as well as the complete rebuilding of roads and drainage. As a member of city council, this will be a top priority.
How prepared is Angleton for the growth coming down Highway 288, and what more should it do to get ready?
BOOTH: The City of Angleton is fairly well prepared for a major influx of new residences. Large water mains were installed along the North Velasco Street and FM 523 corridors several years ago to serve the old Intermedics facilities, the automobile dealerships at the Highway 288 Freeway, and the new Angleton High School campus.
The water and sewer systems south of Cemetery Road are well capable of serving a much larger residential population. These facilities were designed and installed anticipating a larger growth than has occurred.
Major water and sewer infrastructures are now in place along Airport Road (County Road 220) between South Velasco (Business 288) and the South Highway 288 Freeway.
TOWNSEND: I am an optimistic person and focus on what we do have rather than on what we don’t have. Along the same line, in many ways, Angleton is prepared for the growth continuing down Highway 288. Specifically, we have infrastructure in place such as businesses, restaurants, roads, business districts, office space, an excellent school district, and available dry land that will support that growth. However, more will be needed; continuing development is necessary.
Depending on the rate of growth, I am not sure a city can ever be completely ready for growth, but I do believe city council can move as quick as possible to address those concerns once they arise. Further, from my time on Planning and Zoning, and working with the city manager and members of his office, these concerns are being weighed. That is why it is important for the city to work to improve the aging infrastructure throughout town, to think ahead and not just merely to react to a crisis. Focusing on and improving the water towers, water treatment facilities, drainage and roads will help the current residents of Angleton to absorb and support growth opportunities.
The city updated its land development code to include standards that govern the design of development projects, city streets, driveway locations, drainage and infrastructure. What is your take on the new standards?
BOOTH: Standards change, to include building standards, development standards, and health and welfare standards. I haven’t studied the new city land development code and won’t make a comment for or against. Angleton’s standards need to ensure that new development is carried out with the goal of enhancing the overall livability of the community without imposing overbearing or extremely restrictive rules on the developers.
TOWNSEND: As a member of the planning and zoning board, members were provided the opportunity to read, review, question and vote on the changes to the Land Development Code. I supported those changes then and continue to do so now.
The changes to the Land Development Code were made in an attempt to make it easier, less cumbersome for potential developers to prepare and propose new opportunities in the city of Angleton. Equally important to the current residents and taxpayers of Angleton, the Land Development Code sets a standard and gives direction to outside developers as to what Angleton expects.
What is good for developers and businesses in Angleton is also likely going to be good for most, if not all of Angleton. It’s my opinion that city council should look to encourage growth, and be friendly towards business opportunities. At the same time, city council must make sure that the current residents and taxpayers are supported. The Land Development Code is there to hopefully ensure that developments and businesses know that city council will have their support as long as they meet the standards set out within the code. At the same time, the code allows current residents to know that city council expects quality and is not willing to surrender the quality already present in Angleton at any cost. Expectations are good, and understanding those expectations are equally important.