Early voting for the Deer Park city elections starts Monday, 4/29. There will be a candidate forum tonight at the La Quinta on Center St. featuring the candidates for Mayor and for Council Position 1. One of the candidates for that Position 1 seat is Bennie Boles, a former pastor turned police officer. We had a cup of coffee and talked about the motivation behind his run and about the vision he has for Deer Park.
A little background on Deer Park in case you don’t know much about it. Squeezed in between Pasadena and La Porte on the Southeast side of Harris County, Deer Park has a population of roughly 32,000 and an annual budget of right at $55 million. The city has traditionally been very conservative and very well managed. The property tax rate is $0.72/100, which is about $0.12/100 lower than my tax rate a few miles down the road in Shoreacres. They do a very good job with financial transparency – you can find most of the information that is important on their web site, including the all important check register.
One of the things that has set Deer Park apart from many of the suburbs of Houston has been the ability to maintain a sense of community. And it was obvious from the moment we first met that part of the reason Bennie Boles wants to serve on council is to not only continue that tradition of community but to solve some of the problems that he thinks is starting to divide the city. A lifelong conservative, pro-life, pro-family Republican, Boles talked about the disparity in allocation of infrastructure funding, going so far as to describe it as segregation, with the poor areas of the city not getting the resources they need prevent blight and decay.
Boles pointed out that pawn shops, check cashing storefronts, and liquor stores are increasing in the city and are not the kind of retail shops that the city needs. He would prefer to see good quality restaurants and shops that would allow residents to spend money in the city instead of driving into Houston or down to Clear Lake.
He is passionate about serving the needs of the citizens rather than the needs of government or business. He spoke about mixing opportunity with help, saying that government does have a role in helping the truly needy by giving them a hand up when necessary. Even though opportunity exists, some people cannot take advantage of it without some type of help – it is hard to get to work if you don’t have transportation for example.
He believes in zero based budgeting and notes that the city should treat its budget similar to the way a family would by cutting expenses when necessary and not going into deficit spending or raising taxes. He has a degree in organizational leadership and would apply that knowledge to the city should he be elected. He told me that his experience as both a pastor and police officer have given him the ability to solve complex problems with simplicity.
One of the things that impressed me was his certification as a Drug Recognition Expert because that certification is extremely hard to qualify for. If you read this article from InsideDP, in which he talks about his passion for stopping DWI accidents, you get a sense of his drive and motivation for qualifying as a DRE.
One of the questions that I like to ask candidates is “if you were king of Deer Park for the day and could get any ONE thing passed, what would it be?” Bole’s answer was a bit surprising but if you think about his overall desire to improve the community, it makes sense. He would create a “one stop shop” where citizens could go and get information on any program or help that government or private entities offer, a “resource center” so that people could match their needs with programs that already exist. He told me that we need to return to the days when the community took care of the community and didn’t need the federal government or outsiders to step in.
Here is a video he made for his campaign which sums up our meeting quite well:
And here is another InsideDP piece that profiles him more in-depth than I’ve done here: Meet Bennie Boles: City Council Candidate, Pos. 1
His website is BennieBoles.com.
His Facebook page is Bennie Boles for City Council – Position 1.
Click here for election information including early voting dates.
As I mentioned above, you can meet Boles and the other candidates tonight at the La Quinta Inn located at 1400 East Blvd. Doors open at 6 pm for setup and networking, then the forums start at 6:30 pm. If you live in Deer Park, you really need to make an effort to attend and meet the future leaders of your city.
It was a pleasure to meet Boles but more importantly, it was good to know that such outstanding citizens are still involved in politics. When you’re around politicians as much as I am, well, you sometimes forget that.