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Slate Sweeps City Election

May 9, 2015 By:Anne Marie Kilday

Local News

West U voters turned out in record numbers Saturday to elect a slate of candidates who campaign against a land swap between the city and the West U Baptist Church that would have created a Super Block of city buildings and a new Youth Center.

The slate includes two former West U Mayors — Burt Ballanfant and Bob Kelly — as well as attorney Brennan Reilly and Mardi Turner.

Newly elected West U City Council members Bob Kelly, Mardi Turner, Brennan Reilly and Burt Ballanfant go over election returns Saturday night.

Newly elected West U City Council members Bob Kelly, Mardi Turner, Brennan Reilly and Burt Ballanfant go over election returns Saturday night.

Mayor Pro Tem Susan Sample was elected mayor without opposition. She received 1,283 votes.newmayor

Several thousand voters participated in the municipal election, handing a sweep to the slate of “anti-Super Block” candidates.  The victorious candidates held a victory party Saturday evening at Little Matt’s, a popular hamburger restaurant owned by West U businessman Jim Reid. Reid who contributed $2,000 to Kelly’s campaign.

The candidates on the slate popped open a bottle of champagne when the final results were delivered, offering each other a toast of congratulations.

“Remember, this is a republic, not a democracy. This is democracy in action,” said Kelly, who was the top council vote-getter, with 1,273 votes. Kelly was referring to a comment made last year by outgoing Mayor Bob Fry.

Ballanfant, who received 1,264 votes, said, “I think we will have a very productive council.”

Reilly, who received 1,234 votes, said: “I am looking forward to starting right away on restoring citizen-driven decision-making,” to the West U council.

Turner, who received 1,190 votes, said, “West U is a democracy. Our citizens have spoken.”

Former councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Steven Segal came in fifth in the race, receiving 679 votes. The other candidates were Bruce Beneke, with 596 votes; Phil Snyder, with 515 votes, and Sonny Brandtner, who had 442 votes.

The real estate negotiations between the church and the city of West U triggered a community controversy, after the city council voted in mid-October to approve a long-range Municipal Facilities Plan that included proposed real estate transactions with four residential property owners and the Baptist Church.

The city had been working on creating a block of buildings — bordered by University Blvd., College, Amherst and Auden Sts. — when the church announced that it had received an anonymous $3 million donation to build a new Youth Center on its property on Amherst.

The city and the church have been negotiating over a land swap that would have allowed the church to build the Youth Center on city-owned land at 3826 Million St., in exchange for church-owned land on Amherst.

The city’s Public Works maintenance facility, currently located on Milton, was to be moved to city-owned property on Dincans St., near Westpark. But, the city was blocked from issuing $3 million in certificates of obligation to finance that move, after candidate Reilly and other opponents collected 946 signatures on a petition to force a public vote on the additional $3 million in city debt.

Although those petitions have not been verified, the city council last week tabled the issuance of the debt, as well as a vote on its Master Plan and a vote on the real estate deal with the church.

Meanwhile, the church is apparently preparing to proceed with its initial plan to construct the new Youth Center on its Amherst property.

Ballanfant served as mayor of West U 2003 to 2007. Prior to that, he  served as Mayor Pro-Tem from 1999-2001. Kelly, who served as mayor from 2007 to 2011, is an attorney who has lived in West U for about 38 years.

Reilly is an attorney who specializes in Employee Retirement Income Security Act.  Turner is a West U resident who served on the Parks and Recreation Board for six years. Prior to that, Turner served on the Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Board and she has been a proponent of recycling yard waste

Both Ballanfant and Turner also have been proponents of West U’s acquisition of additional parkland.

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13 Responses to “Slate Sweeps City Election”

  1. Former west u ll coach Says:

    West u LL boundaries go well beyond the city of west u. Foul balls from Wallin field often land in the city of Southside Place.

  2. Brokelyn Says:

    13% this year and 10% two years ago.

    What is wrong with my neighbors??

    There were hundreds of people at the baseball fields on Saturday. Think they all made the painful trek over to vote across the street?

    Ack.

    • West You Says:

      Yes, many of us did come from the baseball fields after out games were over and voted.

  3. Proud of West U Says:

    All contributions to Bob Kelly’s campaign were legal. You are quoting an unsubstantiated story from a publication which has long written negatively about Mr. Kelly. I don’t see any real action against Mr. Kelly’s contribution by any responsible entity. Get over it. He won.

    • Brokelyn Says:

      Do you have better facts? I only have what was presented here but would love to be set straight if the facts are different. Thank you.

  4. Lucille Gallman Says:

    Congratulations to all who ran whether they won or lost the election. Those who choose to participate in the election process as a candidate are the best of us.

  5. Steven Segal Says:

    I want to congratulate the new Council (AKA the”slate”) for turning out their voters and getting elected. What I termed a “vocal minority” turned out to be an overwhelming majority of the actual voters. What we do not know is what the 80% of non-voters are thinking. By not voting, the silent majority allowed approximately 13% of the registered voters to elect the Council. That is the statistic that always troubles me in West U elections – not who wins or loses – but how few citizens in our City make the effort to vote.
    I wish this Council success and hope a “vocal minority” or “majority” will stay tuned to assure that we have the promised “transparency” and decisions in the best interest of our City and citizens.

    • Karl Caillouet Says:

      Refreshing to see a gracious comment. Well done, and many thanks, and appreciation, for your prior service to our community.

      That said, it could well be that many citizens sadly feel, as this 27 Year+ resident does, a certain voter numbness from having so many repeated attempts at having City Management’s grandiose plans shoved down our throats.

      As that well may be part of the plan, hope to see more pushback in that regard from this new City Council. :)

  6. donaldo Says:

    stop the baptist church!

  7. Brokelyn Says:

    Lest anyone forget. From a recent article:
    “In campaign finance reports filed 30 days before the election, the leading money-raiser so far has been council candidate and former West U Mayor Bob Kelly. Kelly’s campaign finance report shows that he has raised $6,980 from 13 contributors, including two contributions totalling $2,000 from West U real estate investor Jim Reid, and two contributions totalling $1,900 from an entity called “Goode Company Management.” InstantNewsWestU.com could not determine whether Goode Company Management is a legal entity registered anywhere in the state of Texas.

    Kelly said: “I no longer have the check. The name on the stub is Goode Company Management.”

    State law prohibits corporations and labor unions from making campaign contributions.

    According to the Texas Ethics Commission: “As a general rule, a political committee may not accept political contributions from corporations or labor organizations.”

  8. Brokelyn Says:

    Kelly the belligerent, pompous, and entitled politician. (Uh oh, hope he doesn’t sue me for saying that!)
    Reilly the attorney. Attorneys know how to argue points of law, not run a city or business.
    Ballanfant the former mayor who doesn’t realize it’s time to hang them up. Anyone who saw him at the town halls (or heck, in that picture above) can see that he is running on fumes.

    Folks, you voted these clowns in. Remember that when stuff starts hitting the fan.

  9. Proud of West U Says:

    West U voters rejected dirty politics and fear mothering.

    Honesty and transparency won.

    The winning candidates didn’t sink to the opposition’s disgraceful tactics.

    West U’s future is in good hands.

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