The Grimes County Democratic Party hosted a Meet the Candidate dinner at the Progressive Center in Navasota Monday, Feb. 3, but welcomed all candidates to speak regardless of their political party affiliation.
Speakers represented at the dinner ranged from candidates for sheriff to a representative of a presidential hopeful. The dinner also featured candidates for Navasota City Council.
Geoff Horn, currently serving as a Navasota City Council member in position two, was under the weather and given the opportunity to speak first. Horn has served as a councilman for eight years.
“We had over 130 houses built within Navasota and this year we’re slated to have even more,” said Horn. “We are going to need a lot of commercial growth and because I am an architect, I am totally for commercial growth and residential growth. I love construction. I could sit and watch it all day.” Horn said but it must be right and aesthetically pleasing. “We need to preserve the character in town is my feeling,” stated Horn.
Fultz is currently a Navasota City Councilman serving on position 3 and has served in that position for four years.
Fultz said he also served on the Planning and Zoning Board. “As part of that we’re looking at what the city can do to improve and we are constantly looking for new businesses to come in, constantly looking for how we can improve our city for us as residents of the city,” said Fultz.
Fultz said he encourages communication. “I encourage you to reach out to one of us if you have a question or a concern please let us know. We can’t do anything about your specific issue if we don’t know that you’re having a specific concern. You can do that by calling the city or calling me personally. I will give you my cell phone number if you ask for it, it’s not a big deal.”
Randy Peters returned to Navasota and is seeking a position on position 1 as a councilman, a position he said he served on almost 20 years ago.
“I moved away for a while and have been back for five years and have served on the Planning and Zoning(P&Z) Commission for the past three years and am currently going into my second term as P&Z Chairman,” said Peters.
“A lot like Geoff and Josh said, growth is coming which on P&Z we’ve been tasked with trying to control what’s happening by zoning and help city council with ordinances. Currently we have rezoned almost every property within the city limits that was sold for ag open so now the developers that are interested in that property have an easier processing to be able to build whatever the designated zoning is.”
“The Navasota that I left to the Navasota that I came back to five years ago is a much better city now due to what has happened with the present council men and council before them and I want to continue with good things happening here,” explained Peters.
Pederson is a candidate seeking position 2 on Navasota City Council. “Several people here know me. I’m the person downtown who is trying to change how Navasota thinks as far as growing and growth and make sure that everyone that grew up in this town know what a wonderful place it is,” said Pederson.
“I feel that the growth and everything that Navasota is doing is phenomenal and I want to see it enforced and growing and I want to see our traditions and values all stay the same while we encourage people to come into Navasota and spend their money so that we can repair our streets, so that we can include everyone in everything that we do,” said Pederson. “There’s a lot of things that the city of Navasota could be doing right now and I’m excited to be a part of it, so I decided to run for council so we can secure the future.”
Pederson said she is a volunteer and always accessible to anyone that wants to sit down and talk or have a cup of coffee.
Grimes County Democratic Chair James Harris asked Pederson what she meant by wanting to change how Navasota thinks. Pederson responded saying she is a local business owner and part of the thing that she ran into was that people that lived in Navasota weren’t shopping downtown. “I couldn’t understand why, and I didn’t understand why, my husband was born here, and he didn’t even know why and people that live here didn’t know why,” explained Pederson.
Pederson said the topic was brought up on Facebook. It was my thought that there is a miscommunication between the people that shop and the people that own shops, and the people that own shops are closing before the people that shop get off work. So, I had the idea to create a fourth Friday like Bryan’s first Friday that would have the downtown businesses stay open later one night a month so that the people that live here would have the ability to shop after work at least once a month.”
Gessner currently holds position 1 on Navasota’s City Council and has served for 12-years.
“If you remember back in the 2000s, we had some financial difficulties,” said Gessner. “We had some poor decisions that were made, and we had the great golf course debacle. This really strapped the city financially for several years so that we didn’t get roads and infrastructure repaired.”
“We had to work through that time plus that fact that we had developers taking advantage of us because we were unprepared for their city ways and tell us how it really ought to be done,” stated Gessner. “When I got involved, we rewrote the subdivision ordinances, rewrote the zoning ordinances, we rezoned the whole city and we did some annexation. Led by our city manager we finally got to where we can start building on some roads again and repairing our infrastructure.”
One thing Gessner said no one even thought about was the drainage issues. “We finally got something done on Foster Street and finally got a project going on Willie Street. Were finally getting things done and over the test of time we’ll find out how good they are,” said Gessner.
Gessner said another item that bothers him is not having a grade separation at the tracks on the West side of town and aside from the inconvenience of being caught by a train, emergency response is the main concern. He said the project had been forgotten because nobody was holding TxDot accountable to a promise they made and since being a councilman, it has been added back to the TxDot’s list.
“There’s a lot of things going on and I want to be part of it. I still have a lot to do, so please keep me in mind for May, but until then take care of the primaries.
Candidates present at the Grimes County Democratic Meet and Greet were Navasota City Councilmember Place 2 Geoff Horn, Navasota City Councilmember Place 3 Josh Fultz, Candidate for Navasota City Councilmember Place 1 Randy Peters, Diane Miller representing Pete Buttigieg, Candidate for Navasota City Councilmember Place 2 Pattie Pederson, Navasota City Councilmember Place 1 Bernie Gessner, Grimes County Constable Pct. 3 & 4 Wes Male, Candidate for Grimes County Sheriff Travis Higginbotham, Peter Kelly, Elizabeth Frizell, Grimes County Attorney Jon C. Fultz, Grimes County Commissioner Pct. 3 Barbara Walker, Wally Kronzer, Grimes County Sheriff Don Sowell, Amparo Guerra, VR Faulkner, Elizabeth Hernandez, Lennon Wright, and Veronica Rivas-Molloy.
To get a full recap, view the video on the Navasota Examiner’s Facebook page.