Candidates: John P. McMullan
                   Amos McDonald
                   Tom Sadlowski

Texas Patriots PAC recommends John P. McMullan

JOHN P. MCMULLAN

First elected in 2013, John McMullan has quickly proven himself to be a fighter for the interests of The Woodlands residents, and is unafraid to stand against the majority of the board on issues that affect residents’ quality of life. He was the first elected official in all of Montgomery County to come out in opposition of the 2015 road bond and The Woodlands Parkway extension, and was one of the leaders in the movement that helped to defeat that project. He has also established himself as a leader in fiscal responsibility on the board. Mr. McMullan is one of only three members of the board who has attended every budget meeting over the last two years. During these budget meetings, where the tax rate and spending priorities are set for the next fiscal year, Mr. McMullan pushed for tax cuts that eventually resulted in a 22% reduced tax rate. (From 29.4 cents to 23 cents) In the last budget meeting, along with directors Gordy Bunch and Peggy Hausman, John successfully defeated reckless spending on controversial budget items which had previously barely made it into the budget by a vote of 4 – 3. 

Among these items were:

  • A multi-million dollar parking garage that would simultaneously serve as a transit hub for a Town Center bus system. Although parking needs to be alleviated in Town Center, The Woodlands Mall is currently in stages to build two more of their own. On top of this, the Convention Center parking garage is under-utilized. John McMullan correctly pointed out that, in this economic climate, we should not be spending money on projects to fix problems that can be fixed in other ways. 
  • The creation of a Town Center bus system. John McMullan argued that the system would disproportionately benefit residents and businesses located in Town Center at the expense of those who live in the villages. He argued that the bus system did not make sense financially, because it assumes that people would change their behavior in a way that costs them time. Mr. McMullan argued that the Township shouldn’t be spending money on a new project when they could use that money to improve the current successful Park and Ride operation. 
  • Traffic signal projects. Montgomery County is responsible for funding and maintaining roads in The Woodlands, which includes traffic lights. John McMullan successfully stood up against double taxation, when members of the board wanted to include a nearly $1 million earmark for intersection improvements which the county should funding with the taxes residents of The Woodlands already pay to them. 

Mr. McMullan has also fought against the implementation of bike lanes in The Woodlands on the following points:

  • The surveys that have been completed are unscientific and merit no weight.
  • Bike lanes would narrow existing roads, reduce or remove medians, and/or remove shoulders. Narrowing existing roads would make driving in The Woodlands more dangerous, especially with bikes that close to traffic. Reducing or removing medians takes away from the character of The Woodlands. And removing the shoulders presents the danger of ambulance and emergency vehicles being unable to quickly respond to a scene. 
  • The cost would be enormous all for the benefit of a very small group of people who would use the lanes recreationally. 

Mr. McMullan also showed his strength when he withstood heat based on his motion, which eventually passed, to remove the word “sustainable” from The Woodlands’ Earth Day proclamation, which he said too often is seen as supporting a radical agenda hostile to the energy industry. Mr. McMullan said that the Township, as a limited governing board, should remove the word so as not to be perceived as supporting any certain energy policy. 

Mr. McMullan says that the most important issues facing The Woodlands are:

  • Avoiding double paying for services that should be funded by the county unless absolutely necessary.
  • Avoiding undisciplined spending, specifically, the expensive experimental fare-free bus service proposed for Town Center.
  • Preparing for future incorporation. Incorporation is not cost-free, as it involves taking over services currently provided by the county, so we should begin the process of reserving funds for future expenses associated with incorporation. It is currently anticipated that incorporating will result in a temporary increase in property taxes. By reserving funds in advance, we can minimize, or even eliminate, the anticipated tax rate increase. Some of the assumptions in the previous study the board commissioned on the question of incorporation may have been flawed. A new study should be conducted which takes into consideration ways of addressing the disparate MUD tax rates. 

Mr. McMullan believes he is the best candidate for office for the following reasons:

  • He has a proven track record of effective advocacy on matters of importance to The Woodlands’ residents even in the face of opposition from county politicians and politically-connected real estate developers.
  • He has managed budgets, personnel, and legal aspects of energy projects with a value far in excess of the Township’s $132 million budget, which gives him the skills necessary to be an effective and careful steward of taxpayer dollars.
  • He has witnessed first-hand how quickly the character of a community can change if insufficient attention and resources are devoted to public safety. He places paramount importance on public safety, and will work to ensure The Woodlands remains a safe place.

Mr. McMullan believes that the tax rate can be lowered further, and plans to continue to push for tax cuts and spending cuts. When he first ran for office in 2013, he said he hoped that “increasing sales and hotel tax revenue from our booming businesses combined with restrained spending by the board will result in further tax reductions.” After his work in his first term, that is exactly what occurred, as the tax rate was lowered from 29.4 cents to 23 cents. (A 22% reduction.) We look forward to continued leadership on the board from Mr. McMullan in the areas of fiscal responsibility.

Mr. McMullan lives in The Woodlands with his wife and three children. His mother and in-laws are also residents of the community. He is a graduate of the University of Texas with a degree in finance, as well as Harvard Law School. He has spent the last 16 years in the private sector working as an energy lawyer and entrepreneur. 

As a shareholder in the Global Energy and Infrastructure practice group at the international law firm Greenberg Traurig, Mr. McMullan has considerable experience with budgets, contract negotiation, and other qualities that have added to his strengths as a Township board member. He has a passion for public safety, and has played a leading role in providing new, incremental funding targeting internet and sexual abuse crimes against children. He was first motivated to run for this position when he worked on the Ted Cruz for Senate campaign (he has been on the Senator’s Finance Committee since 2011, when the future senator was barely registering in the polls) and took to heart Ted Cruz’s repeated assertion that if you care about your community, get engaged. 

For these reasons, we recommend voting for John McMullan for Township director, position 5. 

AMOS MCDONALD

Amos McDonald has been in the banking industry for 17 years and is currently an executive for BBVA Compass Bank, where he manages a team of over 200 people and a budget of $62 million, specializing in seeking efficiencies and cost savings. He is also the chairman of the Montgomery County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a board member with the Alden Bridge Village Association, an advisory board member for the Lone Star College Chancellor’s Hispanic Initiative, a past board member with The Woodlands Chamber of Commerce, and an advisory board member of Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital, among a myriad of other board positions held. 

Mr. McDonald believes the current tax rate is appropriate, and that although the Township is overall run very well, he looks forward to adding value and bringing a new perspective to the board. He believes he is the best candidate for the board based on his strong budgeting and planning background, leadership and commitment, and advocacy for residents. 

He believes the top three issues facing The Woodlands are:

  • Traffic congestion and road construction planning. As The Woodlands becomes more densely populated, safety issues and longer commute times will require working with residents, county officials, and TxDOT to review the long-term mobility plan.
  • Better preparation and attendance of elected officials. He suggests attendance requirements be imposed on the board to continue to serve.
  • Lack of resident input and awareness. He looks forward to attending each village meeting once a quarter to seek resident input and increased participation. 

Mr. McDonald clearly has a passion for community service and holds conservative values. He is very nice person, has a fascinating family history, and his service to the community is appreciated. However, we see no credible reason to support replacing John McMullan on the Township board, after Mr. McMullan has a proven record of standing up for the residents and fighting for fiscal responsibility. 

Concerns

Mr. McDonald was a supporter of the May 2015 Montgomery County road bond, which included The Woodlands Parkway extension. When asked about his support of the bond, Mr. McDonald said that while he did not like the extension project, he supported the bond because he believed it was best for people in other parts of the county. 

Mr. McDonald says that overall, he agrees with Mr. McMullan’s voting record, but the sole reason he chose to run against him concerns his attendance record. Mr. McDonald claims that John has the worst attendance record of any Township board member, which is patently false. After 61 total board meetings since Mr. McMullan has been in office, he has attended 50. By comparison to other board members during the same time frame, Peggy Hausman has also attended 50, Ed Robb has attended 49, Gordy Bunch has attended 53, Bruce Tough has attended 54, Jeff Long has attended 55, and Mike Bass has attended 57. Also, Mr. McMullan is one of only three members to attend every budget meeting throughout his tenure, during which the board carries out their important duties of setting the tax rate and spending priorities. Mr. McDonald has claimed that in the first half of the fiscal year, Mr. McMullan only attended half of the board meetings. We find this to be a deceptive political talking point. If voters were to look at Mr. McMullan’s first ten months in office, they would find that he missed no meetings. Instead, Mr. McDonald is opportunistically taking a random period of a subset of meetings to distort his opponent’s record. During the period criticized, Mr. McMullan had sudden business travel obligations which he was unable to control. Yet despite this, Mr. McMullan continued to effectively advocate against the Montgomery County Road Bond and The Woodlands Parkway extension at village meetings and in the newspaper, as well as stand up for residents of Creekside against The Woodlands Development Company’s clear-cutting practices. If Mr. McDonald’s sole concern was the attendance of board members, he could have challenged Ed Robb for his seat last November, or any of the board members whose attendance is equal to or only slightly higher than John’s. Instead, he chose to challenge Mr. McMullan, which leaves us wondering if Mr. McMullan’s unique willingness on the board to stand up against the political establishment and special interests was more of a motivating factor to unseat him. 

Mr. McDonald is a founding member of the Voter Awareness Council – a group that bills itself as an unbiased organization with a mission to increase election awareness and participation. However, it doesn’t take long for one to realize that this group was founded by and composed of members of The Woodlands and Montgomery County political establishment, whose power over the years has been threatened by the grassroots movement. One of the group’s main functions is to get candidates to sign their “Responsible Candidates” pledge, which, among other requirements, limits the number of campaign signs a candidate can display, as well as limits the number of campaign workers a candidate can have working on their behalf. The pledge also commits candidates to “request that any organization advocating a slate of candidates, including me, likewise limit the number of persons appearing at or near the polling locations to no more than two persons from the organization at any time.” Besides being an attack on free speech, this is also a direct attempt to hurt conservative grassroots candidates – and the organizations like us who support them - who cannot afford to buy billboards and mail fancy campaign pieces, but instead rely on volunteer labor and sweat equity in order to get their message out and have a chance at winning. During the May 2015 Montgomery County road bond election, instead of presenting their “fact-driven information,” the VAC took their talking points about the bond from a pro-bond PAC and misrepresented the views of those who did not support the bond. Many board members of the VAC were also board members of this pro-bond PAC, and were active in the community to support the bond’s passage. On top of this, one of the board members was a real-estate developer who stood to gain tremendously from The Woodlands Parkway extension project. In this election, two founding members of the VAC are running for election to the Township board – Amos McDonald and Bruce Tough.

Mr. McDonald was also unable to give us certain answers on several issues, saying that he would prefer to look at the figures once in office before he commits to a position:

On the issue of incorporation, Mr. McDonald stated that while he isn’t sure of the benefit, it is not a concern to the community at this point. While the complexities of incorporation need to be studied, we think incorporation is a concern to The Woodlands residents, as it would be the best way for the community to protect itself against actions by the county and development company which threaten our quality of life, including The Woodlands Parkway extension.

On the issue of alternative transportation projects, such as bike lanes and a bus system, Mr. McDonald stated that he is open to options, but doesn’t know how he stands at this point. In discussing the failures of the Town Center trolley system, he expressed concern that the reason people were not utilizing the trolleys is due to the long wait time. He said that if more trolleys or buses were available, and wait times were cut, people might use them more. This sounds like support for the recently defeated proposal for a Town Center bus system, which John McMullan helped to strip from the budget. 

On the issue of the increasing urbanization and commercialization of Town Center, Mr. McDonald said that he likes the tax revenue generated by the new commercial developments, likes what Town Center has become, and would like to see more development of that area. When asked what he would like Town Center to look like 10 years from now, and if continuing to build high-rises in the area is a good thing, he said that he doesn’t know. Originally, no building in The Woodlands was supposed to exceed the height of the tree line. Town Center, instead of remaining the “downtown” specifically for The Woodlands residents, has become an urbanized tourist and shopping destination that we believe has added to our traffic problems, taken away from the character of The Woodlands, and resulted in a de facto separation of the area from the rest of the community. 

Summary

Mr. McDonald, while a fine person who holds a conservative view of government, has not demonstrated to us a clear reason that voters should support him over John McMullan, whose record proves that he stands up for the interests of The Woodlands’ residents and fights for fiscal responsibility. 

TOM SADLOWSKI

After many attempts to contact Mr. Sadlowski to participate in our vetting process, Mr. Sadlowski did not respond and therefore does not qualify for consideration of our support.