City council field starts to take shape
With the February 17 filing deadline for the May 6, West University Place mayor and city council elections just a little more than two weeks away, four resident have turned in the required petitions to be on the non-partisan ballot.
Two incumbents, Burt Ballanfant and Mardi Turner, filed for re-election. Joining the early field is first-time candidate, and two-term parks board member Wayne Franklin. Rounding out the early field is former three-term city councilmember Dick Yehle.
Ballanfant has a long record of elected civic participation, he served on the City Council from 1999-2001 and then as mayor from 2003-2007.
Turner has been a mainstay of West University Place civic participation for more than two decades, with prior service on the Recycling and Solid Waste Board and the Park Board.
Franklin has been a resident of West U since 2009, The seven-year resident is married to journalist Rachel McNeill, an anchor-reporter with KPRC-2 TV and has sons, 5 and 8, who attend West U ES. The family lives on Dartmouth Street. A board certified cardiologist, he’s on the faculty at the Baylor College of Medicine, where he serves as a faculty senator.
Yehle is a 27-year resident of West University Place who previously served three terms on City Council, 2005-2007, and 2011-2015. Yehle was a member of the Zoning and Planning Commission for three terms and served one term on the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Likely other candidates
Mayor Susan Sample has announced she running for re-election, but has not filed. There has been no discussion of an opponent, but any qualified West University Place resident has until Feb. 17 to gather the signatures of 25 registered West U voters to have their name placed on the ballot in opposition.
Bruce Beneke has expressed an interest in running for City Council, but not filed. Beneke is a well-respected 20-year resident of West University Place who lives on Tangley Street. He retired from Apache Corp., an oil and gas company and now serves on the Building and Standards Commission.
Bob Higley is a 45-year resident of West University Place who has served three terms on the Zoning and Planning Commission and was previously a member of the Charter Review Committee. His wife, Laura, who served as West U mayor from 1989-1991, has been justice on the First Court of Appeals since 2002. Higley is a financial advisor with Wells Fargo and resides on Belmont Street.
Michael Kaplan is a 16-year resident of West University Place. He and his wife of 15 years live on Robinhood Street and have two children at West University Elementary School. He has been the Republican Precinct 183 chair for three years. He is senior vice president/wealth manager at Morgan Stanley.
One-term Councilmember Brennan Reilly has not responded to our requests about his intentions. So Reilly is a question mark.
West University Place Election Facts
The City of West University Place holds its general elections to choose a mayor and four councilmembers in May of odd-numbered years. The next general election in West U will be held on Saturday, May 6 with polls open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.