Your Essentials Guide: Bellaire mayor’s race
By Charlotte Aguilar
The race for Bellaire mayor sees incumbent Andrew Friedberg seeking a second two-year term against challenger Robert Riquelmy.
At a recent candidates’ forum, Friedberg cited his leadership in areas of infrastructure upgrades, transparency and communication, while Riquelmy constantly veered off-topic and continued his longstanding attack on how the Bellaire Police Department is run.
Riquelmy did not respond to Essentials/InstantNews’ candidates’ questionnaire, but these are Friedberg’s answers:
Years in Bellaire
Grew up in the area; returned to Bellaire 11-plus years ago
Bellaire High School graduate; B.A. (economics and government), BBA (finance), University of Texas at Austin; J.D., Harvard Law School
What qualifies you to be mayor?
I wouldn’t be running for re-election if I didn’t feel up to the job, with still more to offer. I think I’ve demonstrated a thoughtful, reasoned approach, and remain committed to being responsive and accessible. My past experience and qualifications have helped me lead effectively, especially in this difficult time.
Why are you running?
I’m proud of my first term and all we have accomplished together. Post-Harvey, I appreciate even more the opportunity to serve and help Bellaire recover.
What distinguishes you from your opponent?
My campaign is about my vision and what I have to offer, not about my opponent. Steady, effective leadership is now more important than ever.
What is the greatest challenge facing Bellaire in the next four years?
Even before Harvey we’ve had to make tough choices in managing our fund balances, both for prudent fiscal administration and to protect our strong bond rating. We’ve done a good job of that, but Harvey has now added a layer of uncertainty as we take on the challenges of rebuilding.
Finish these sentences. Bellaire’s greatest asset is _________________ .
its people, both residents and our dedicated, professional city staff.
Bellaire needs to improve _________________.
restored confidence in flood-protection, especially as homeowners face rebuilding decisions.
Do you approve of the tax increase required to fund the FY 2018 budget?
Nobody likes tax increases. The question is really one for all of us: What’s important to us and what are we willing to pay for? Residents expect, and the City provides, premier services. Even among those who have argued against a tax increase, none have identified services they want reduced.
Finish this sentence: Bellaire residents who blame the city or infrastructure for flooding from Hurricane Harvey ____________________________________.
are encouraged to engage with us in working on solutions.
If you are re-elected, what single thing would you like most to have accomplished by the end of your term?
Unquestionably our top priorities for the foreseeable future are Harvey recovery and future flood prevention. That will remain our focus through the next Council term.
Name a current or historical figure you most admire and tell why.
I’m a fan of Benjamin Franklin, for his legacy as a Renaissance man and statesman whose many contributions helped shape the greatest nation on Earth.