By Charlotte Aguilar
Bellaire voters’ dissatisfaction with the direction of city government was evident again in a runoff election Saturday that sent two candidates — who had advocated curbs on spending and incurring more debt — to City Council by hefty margins.
Nathan Wesely and Jim Hotze will join newcomer Catherine Lewis at the counciltable at their installation on Jan. 6. She’s a Ph.D. and geologist, who won outright in the general election last month, beating incumbent Trisha Pollard, and who campaigned vigorously for them after her win.
Incumbent Mayor Andrew Friedberg was returned to office in the general election, facing a perennial candidate, Robert Riquelmy, who garnered more than a fourth of the vote.
Wesely defeated Winfred “Win” Frazier, a former Planning & Zoning Commission chair and parks leader who had aligned himself with the current city leadership, by a vote of 1,535-1,064 (59-41 percent). He will take the seat occupied by longtime Councilmember Pat McLaughlan, frequently a lone voice and vote on the current council, who was term-limited.
Hotze beat incumbent David Montague by a nearly identical margin of 1,521-1,073 votes (also 59-41 percent).
Altogether 2,619 ballots were cast out of a pool of 12,481 registered Bellaire voters, a 21 percent turnout.
Wesely, an attorney practicing labor and employment law, is a 30-year resident of Bellaire who served six years on the Board of Adjustment, including two as chair, and who has been active in youth sports and Horn ES. He holds an engineering degree from the University of Nebraska, and MBA and law degrees from the University of Texas. He has been married to Bellaire Municipal Court Presiding Judge Lisa Wesely for 32 years, and they have four children.
Hotze has lived in Bellaire for 36 years, serving as an election judge for 34 years. He earned an accounting degree at the University of Texas Austin and is a certified public accountant who has owned the Patriot Group Ltd., an office supply business in Bellaire, for 40 years. He and his wife, Cindy, have been married for 40 years and have raised six children.
While fiscal responsibility, debt and spending were major issues in the campaign, other fiercely discussed topics were flood mitigation and growing concerns over commercial development and preservation of Bellaire’s longtime commitment to be a “City of Homes.”