Quentin Wiltz in Pearland and AJ Honoré in Stafford could make history as firsts in their cities
The Nov. 3 election could be historic on a national level and for two Houston bedroom communities: Pearland and Stafford.
If Quentin Wiltz prevails in his two-race for Pearland mayor, he would be the burgeoning suburb’s first Black leader. The same goes for AJ Honoré, who is among four men running to become Stafford’s next mayor.
Both Pearland and Stafford are diverse cities that portend the future of Texas and the nation: A mix of ethnicities – none comprising the majority – and people of color accounting for more than half of the population.
May 2 elections for both cities were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stafford added a special election for mayor after Leonard Scarcella, who led the city for 50 years and was considered the nation’s most tenured continuously-serving mayor, died in June.
Both mayoral races are open seats because Pearland Mayor Tom Reid, 95, is not seeking re-election.
Pearland, which sits mostly in Brazoria County, has more than 120,000 residents and is about 18 percent Black, 44 percent Anglo, 22 percent Hispanic and 14 percent Asian, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Pearland is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation and, of course, in Texas. The population has more than tripled since 2000, when fewer than 40,000 people lived there. The city boasts desirable subdivisions and school districts just south of Houston between Friendswood to the east and Fresno to the west.
In 2015, Derrick Reed became the first African American elected to Pearland’s city council.
In May 2017, Wiltz forced Mayor Tom Reid into a runoff, trailing by less than 500 votes, but the incumbent, then 91, prevailed convincingly when voters returned to the polls the next month.
Reid, who has served as mayor for 40 years during two stints since 1978, is retiring.
Wiltz, a director for an oil and gas pipeline coatings firm, faces real estate developer Kevin Cole for the seat.
Wiltz has a mathematics degree from Southern University and an Executive MBA from the University of Houston. He is a former chairman of the Pearland parks and recreation board who made two unsuccessful campaign runs for Pearland City Council.
His website explains why he is running: “Pearland has significant challenges to overcome – economic, cultural, environmental, and mobility. While developers can masterplan a neighborhood, it requires a leader with passion, conviction, and humility to bring us together and masterplan our community. Pearland deserves a candidate equipped with both the executive and grassroots experience of leading diverse teams to solve 21st century challenges. It’s time for new ideas. It’s time for new leadership.”
Cole challenged Reid for mayor in 2011 and lost, but served on city council and on the Pearland planning and zoning commission. Cole is touting a “PEAR” plan to address protection, economic development, accessibility (mobility and traffic) and resource management in the city.
Stafford has a four-way race for mayor. AJ Honoré, a former council member, will appear first on the ballot followed by Mayor Pro Tempore Wen Guerra, then council member Cecil Willis and activist Jim Narvios.
The Fort Bend County city has about 18,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and is roughly 31 percent Black, 22 percent Anglo, 23 percent Hispanic and 20 percent Asian.
Distinguished by having had no municipal property tax for the last 25 years, Stafford also has the only municipal school district in Texas – which means it is controlled by the city. The business-friendly community sits between Sugar Land, Missouri City and Houston.
All four mayoral candidates have made maintaining zero city property taxes part of their platforms.
Honoré, a bank executive and business consultant, also touts a five-year capital infrastructure plan, a youth and senior development program and a revenue enhancement initiative as well as a “community cloth and ethics board” among his priorities.
Guerra, who serves as president of the Stafford Economic Development Corporation, has been fulfilling the duties of mayor since Scarcella’s death this summer.
In announcing his candidacy, Willis said he is a “fiscal conservative” who plans to continue the Scarcella legacy and that “what is best for all of Stafford” will be his only agenda.
Narvios, a student at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, wants to bring better drainage and sewage systems to “neglected areas” as well as a major grocery store and a dog park to the city.