A diverse group of community figures and local activists have banded together to form a new political action committee focused solely on local, non-partisan issues within The Woodlands Township.
The new PAC, called TownshipFuture, was formed with a goal of improving The Woodlands in the years ahead as well as electing township directors that share the group’s visions and educating the public, organizers said.
Local anti-incorporation activist Amy Lecocq, a former federal prosecutor, is the president of the TownshipFuture Steering Committee and one of the PAC’s co-founders. She said she was heavily involved in the formation of the committee over several months along with a group of other township residents. Other participants include Democratic activist Kira Becker, Walter Cooke — a local attorney who is a Vietnam combat veteran — and veteran community volunteer Rob Johnson.
Becker will act as the PAC’s secretary while Cooke is the treasurer. Johnson, a retired Exxon-Mobil corporate attorney and member of the board of the Interfaith of The Woodlands board, will also be heavily involved. There is also a group of residents who are “interested in the mission and vision and who are working with us in multiple capacities,” Lecocq added.
Cooke ran for a seat on the township Board of Directors in Novemver 2019, losing to Shelley Sekula-Gibbs as they competed with a third candidates to replaced retiring director John McMullan for the Position 5 race.
Lecocq was the campaign manager for another candidate in 2019, Walter Lisiewski, who lost the Position 7 race to Bob Milner. She makes regular public comments at township board meetings criticizing the incorporation studies the township has done since 2018. The incorporation process is on hold due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic, which has caused a loss of sales tax and hotel occupancy tax revenue.
Lecocq said the group of concerned residents have been planning to create the PAC for several months if not longer, but it only recently was finalized. It is registered as a general purpose political action committee with the Texas Ethics Commission and is also a Section 527 IRS-recognized nonprofit. The group will file financial disclosure forms and reports per state law similar to other political action committees, she noted.
“We have basically three priorities we focus on. The first being, low property taxes and high level of public services…that’s always been a principle (The Woodlands) has abided by. Along those lines, limited government…only as much government as needed to provide the necessary services and then, lastly, respecting the township’s history and character and respecting all residents. That has been a fundamental part of the community for more than 40 years,” Lecocq said. “We are non-partisan in terms of what we’re going to do. We are going to focus on key issues to The Woodlands and key non-partisan elections. We are not a partisan group at all. We have people from varied backgrounds, but we do all agree in our principles and vision for moving forward.”
In a press release sent to media and residents, the group said the “unique form of government (in The Woodlands) allows the Township to keep taxes especially low while providing a high quality of services, nimbly responding to resident and business needs.”
“Another guiding belief is that The Woodlands’ strong foundation of caring for all residents inspires residents and businesses to support the township’s many non-profits, houses of worship, local companies and other organizations that enrich residents’ lives and help keep the township vibrant,” officials stated in the release.
The formation of the new PAC has been in the works for years, Lecocq noted. Aside from the steering committee, many other community leaders and residents have helped with ideas and strategies.
“It has been a process over some period of time, but I think we’ve kind of landed on this model for moving forward. There have been about maybe a dozen (community residents) who have offered advice and counsel along the way,” Lecocq added.
Joining the fray
The new PAC, which enters a county environment with multiple other political action committees spanning several topics and issues, also created a new a website along with several different social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The group is recruiting residents, Lecocq noted, to help with their mission on several levels. There will also be a slate of informational sessions for residents, she added, that is still under development.
Lecocq and Cooke are well known in the community for their anti-incorporation views, however Lecocq said the new PAC and its members have not discussed incorporation and are not focused on the issue in any manner at this time.
The PAC is planning to host a township candidate informational night in June where, Lecocq said, potential candidates for the four open seats on the township Board of Directors in November 2020 will get information about the process and how the township governance model is set up. Township board members Gordy Bunch, Bruce Rieser, John Anthony Brown and newly appointed director Jason J. Nelson are all up for election to new two-year terms in November.
“We anticipate probably doing an event in late June where we would invite prospective candidates for the township board to a morning (event),” she said. “Where we talk about what is involved in running for township board, what it is like to be on the township board. We are interested in identifying folks who have the same vision for our community, the same passion for The Woodlands and how to move forward as we do.”