By Charlotte Aguilar
With nearly 8 percent of the registered Bellaire voters casting early ballots, Mayor Andrew Friedberg leads challenger Robert Riquelmy, but an upset could be in the works for three council positions.
Friedberg, who is seeking his third two-year term, leads Riquelmy 69-31 percent, or 662-293 votes.
For Council Position 2, newcomer Catherine Lewis, a Ph.D. geologist who has been active in her neighborhood, holds a lead over incumbent Trisha Pollard, about 60-40 percent, or 571-375 early votes.
The other two seats, with three candidates each, could be headed for a runoff.
In open Position 4, currently held by term-limited Councilmember Pat McLaughlan, attorney Nathan Wesely has 46 percent of the vote (430 votes), followed by another attorney, Winfred “Win” Frazier, with 33 percent (307 votes), with entrepreneur Kevin Newman trailing with 21 percent (198 votes). Frazier, who has served in leadership positions on city boards, commissions and organizations, has been aligned with the current council and city management.
The early voting has incumbent Position 6 Councilmember David Montague in a tight race with accountant and small business owner Jim Hotze. Hotze leads with 45 percent (418 votes), with Montague posting 42 percent (390 votes), and Keith Bowers behind with 13 percent (122 votes).
The election became a debate over both the elected and staff leadership of Bellaire with bond debt, a growth in commercial development in what has historically been known as the “City of Homes,” and spending for such items as branding, beautification, and a number of consultants coming into question.