Final results: New faces at Bellaire council table, HISD board — but incumbents prevail otherwise

By Charlotte Aguilar

The power of incumbency was evident in races for Bellaire municipal and education leadership posts Tuesday, with the only “new blood,” so to speak, being infused in seats that were being vacated.

In Bellaire, Mayor Andrew Friedberg was re-elected handily, Michael Fife earned a full, four-year term in Position 5 on City Council after serving two years of an unexpired term, and Gus Pappas had no opposition to retain his Position 3 seat for a second term.

The new face is rising star Neil Verma, elected to Position 1, which was vacated when incumbent Roman Reed was term-limited. Verma, an attorney, has been high-profile as chairman of Bellaire’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Board for two terms, as a member of the inaugural Bellaire Citizens’ Academy for leadership training, and for the past year as chairman of the Charter Review Committee. He also helped coordinate a successful grassroots post-hurricane cleanup effort that recruited volunteers and materials and provided direct, immediate assistance to more than 100 flooded households.

Bellaire voters showed confidence in the first charter revisions in 11 years, widely approving the 18 proposed amendments to update and conform the city’s governing document to state law.

While voters re-elected Houston Committee College District V Trustee Robert Glaser, there is a new Houston ISD trustee representing District V.

Sue Deigaard, an outspoken public education advocate, surprised many to outpoll three other candidates and earn an outright majority without a runoff. She will replace eight-year Trustee Mike Lunceford, who chose not to seek re-election. Deigaard is herself a product of public schools and a double-degree Rice University graduate, and has two daughters who attend HISD. She has been a frequent voice at the HISD board, in Austin, and on the op-ed pages.

Final results are as follows:


Mayor — Andrew Friedberg, 1,777 (89%); Robert Riquelmy, 210 (11%)

Council Position 1 — Neil Verma, 1,257 (67%); Kevin Newman, 608 (33%)

Council Position 3 — Gus Pappas (unopposed), 1,614 (100%)

Council Position 5 —  Michael Fife, 1,128 (59%); Jim Avioli Sr., 782 (41%)

Houston Community College

District V Trustee — Robert Glaser, 5,855 (58%); Victoria Bryant, 4,236 (42%)

Houston ISD

District V Trustee — Sue Deigaard, 5,559 (51%); Susan Shafer, 1,804 (17%); Kara DeRocha, 1,762 (16%); Sean Cheben, 1,720 (16%).

Neil Verma is all smiles Tuesday night after winning Bellaire City Council Position 1. (Photo by Charlotte Aguilar)

Incumbents Gus Pappas (left, Position 3) and Michael Fife (Position 5) celebrate their re-election to Bellaire City Council Tuesday night. (Photo by Charlotte Aguilar)

Andrew Friedberg, right, was re-elected to a second, two-year term as Bellaire mayor. He’s with longtime resident and supporter Ezat Zarasvand. (Photo by Charlotte Aguilar)