By Charlotte Aguilar
Bellaire’s Nov. 2 general election has the potential to change the city’s political landscape, with the mayor’s position and three council seats up for grabs — a majority of the seven members who sit at the City Council table.
When the deadline for a place on the ballot came at 5 p.m. Monday (Aug. 16), Mayor Andrew Friedberg found himself unopposed, and seven candidates had filed to fill the open council seats.
Friedberg will be serving a fourth — and because of term limits, final —
two-year term. First elected in 2015 after six years as a councilmember, he is an attorney by profession. He is a graduate of Bellaire HS, the University of Texas and Harvard Law School and served six years in the U.S. Army National Guard.
It’s the three odd-numbered council seats that voters will be filling in this bi-annual election. Position 1 Councilmember Neil Verma decided not to run to devote more time to family, while Gus Pappas and Michael Fife are term-limited in Positions 3 and 5, respectively.
Running to replace Verma are two former council candidates, Winfred “Win” Frazier and Kevin Newman.
Frazier, a 30-year resident, is making his second stab at a council seat after losing in a runoff in the last election. An attorney, he is a former chair of the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission and has been active in supporting parks and recreation as president of the Patrons for Bellaire Parks.
Newman is making his third run at council. He has lived in Bellaire for 24 years and is a Bellaire HS graduate, following that with studies at the University of Houston. He owns and operates a web design business and has served on the city’s seniors advisory board.
Javier Vega, an energy professional and eight-year resident of Bellaire, and Ross Gordon, chair of the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission, filed to run for Position 3.
Three candidates are seeking council Position 5. They are Brian Witt, who serves on the city’s Environmental Sustainability Board and is a 25-plus-year resident of Bellaire; Andréa Ehlers, a 32-year resident best known for leading the Friends of the Bellaire Library; and David Montalvo, a graduate student in information technology at the University of Houston.
The low-key filing period, with candidates quietly trickling in, was a marked contrast to the start of the contentious 2019 general election with 10 candidates. The mayor was challenged, and at the conclusion, one incumbent councilmember was turned out of office, and two other candidates who openly campaigned against actions of the council and then-city manager were elected, as well.
The last day to register to vote in this election is Oct. 4, with early voting scheduled from Oct. 18-29.