In 2019, at a time when I was in the race for State Representative, my friend received a letter from my opponent Justin Ray. Knowing a little more about him, he wrote his comments on the letter and sent it to me. I think these comments will be interesting to some of my readers.
June 18, 2019
In this past election, we were all shocked and saddened to see our long-time State Representative and friend Gary Elkins had been defeated in a very close election by the self proclaimed progressive liberal, Jon Rosenthal.
I am running for State Representative to return principled, conservative leadership to the Texas House. I have dedicated myself to serving the people of Northwest Harris County. This is the community of my childhood, and where I am raising my family. I deeply understand our area’s challenges and opportunities.
For Justin Ray, ‘principled, conservative leadership’ is scheduling meeting of City Council when a majority of citizens can’t attend. CC meetings were scheduled for Monday evenings, many as early as 5:30 pm. The agenda’s are published late on Friday, thus meeting the legal requirement of 3 days prior to the meeting, but making it difficult for many citizens to review the information over a weekend.
At meetings where large public expenditures were to be voted upon, Justin Ray as Mayor declared no citizen remarks would be allowed. Thus when millions of dollars were scheduled to be discussed, citizens had no say. It wasn’t until the City Attorney intervened that citizen comments were allowed.
Apparently the Treasurer for Justin Ray’s campaign doesn’t quite agree with him. Bobby Warren of all people wrote the following: “Over the last four years, the average single family home in Jersey Village has seen their property taxes go up by 23.2% when adjusted for inflation.”
In 2015, I was elected as the youngest Mayor in Jersey Village City history. Under my leadership, the City embarked on ambitious plans while remaining fiscally responsible and building a surplus of funds at the city level.
What he doesn’t say is Ray and then Mayor Rod Erskine conspired to rig mayoral election—when Erskine, without opposition, dropped out of the race at the very last minute and Ray suddenly entered. Thus he went in unopposed.
Just over a year ago, City Council estimated a cost of $1.2 million to build a new 8,000 s.f. golf course clubhouse. In the last year, that has increased to an 11,500 s.f. clubhouse/convention center with an estimated cost (per the consultant) of $3.2 million plus. Last night, the city disclosed that the three construction bids came in between $5.17 million and $7.0 million.
Although many residents may generally support improving the Jersey Meadows golf course, would the majority knowingly support a $5.0 million dollar plus expenditure on the clubhouse/convention center (particularly when it has not been demonstrated what it will cost to operate the facility, and whether it will break even.
For Justin Ray being responsible is to spend millions of tax payer dollars with no Business Plan, no professional assessment to determine if the facilty should be built along Jones Road – thus avoiding traffic beforced to enter the core city area for access.
In light of the foregoing, there is also good reason to question the accuracy of the city’s estimated $8.0 million construction cost for a new (approx. 30,000 s.f.) City Hall.
Another slight slip and slide of twisting things is how as Mayor he addressed Reserve Funds. Due to the fact that reserve funds are limited by law as to the amount a city can keep, these “surplus of funds” were accumulated in a separate fund designated as the “unassigned asset replacement fund”. A large portion of these funds came from resident homeowners as their JV tax exemptions were reduced to just 8% for homestead rather than the 20% for homestead within Houston and Harris county, and the “over 65” JV exemption was reduced to $50,000 rather than the $160,000 exemption offered to homeowners in Houston and Harris. County.
As Mayor, I guided the community through major rain events including disastrous home flooding during the 2016 Tax Day Flood. To protect people and their property, we went to work to develop a long-term flood mitigation strategy which included engineered public works projects and street drainage improvements.
One year after his election to Mayor, Jersey Village experienced a severe flood when over 200 homes were severely damaged. Citizens immediately came together to review a 1999 flood study and launch their own study, at their own cost, including a very accurate drone elevation study. Their efforts were shunned by Mayor Ray as being with out merit, even though the participants were engineers, geologists, hydrologists, lawyers and flood victims. OF these Mayor Ray refused to allow a gratis presentation by Dr. Sam Brody, flooding expert professor, TX A&M University, famous, appointed to president’s council on flooding, not good enough for JV.
Although the city had a comprehensive flood study on Jersey Village previously completed, the city decided to fund yet another study, this time with Dannenbaum Engineering having a fee close to $750,000. At that time, Mayor Ray promised swift action including shovels in the ground within 120 days. What he delivered, a year later, was an overly expensive, poorly executed flood study from an engineering firm that is currently under investigation by the FBI. To this date not one shovel of dirt has been moved.
Jim Dannenbaum (who was on the host committee for Justin’s fundraiser in September) has stepped down from his engineering firm as part of an apparent plea deal with the feds involving campaign finance violations.
On May 16, 2016, a Councilmember proffered a motion to form a citizen group of credentialled members to review flooding, Mayor Ray objected. Mayor Ray met with Harris County Flood Control District proudly proclaiming the risk to Jersey Village had been resolved. In April of 2016 over a couple hundred homes in Jersey Village flooded.
Mayor Ray’s statement from Minutes 5/16/16 Council meeting: Some Council Members felt that flooding may be more or a “perception” issue rather than an actual flooding issue and as a result, perhaps something needs to be done to address the perception flooding is still an issue in Jersey Village.
So far, the sum total of all tangible flood mitigation efforts is the purchase of a water pump with a 6 inch hose used to lower the detention pond before potential floods. Most recent observation shows a water level reduction of 6 inches after two + days of pumping.
I also worked closely with state and local officials to shepherd the community through a difficult Highway 290 expansion. Embracing opportunities as well as challenges, we always strived to energetically pursue economic growth for Northwest Harris County.
The city took advantage of this situation to use JV taxpayer money to buy unnecessary easements and then demanded TxDot reimburse JV for the expense. All in this process Mayor Ray continued to say JV would be reimbursed by TxDOT for all expenses. Of course that didn’t happen and he quietly lets the topic drop.
Also during this time of road construction JV decided to fund a traffic study to ascertain whether JV experienced excessive cut-through traffic and speeding, and what could be done to alleviate said issues. The Mayor and council were warned that construction can and will have an adverse effect on the study and should be postponed until construction was finished. The city refused to wait and instead accepted findings that were flawed due to the temporary changes in traffic movements brought on by construction efforts. This may be categorized as fraud waste and abuse.
TxDOT sponsored a monthly meeting of business leaders. However, Justin Ray never attended.
Our conservative values of freedom, opportunity, personal responsibility, and strong family values resonate with every Texan. But to win elections, we need principled leaders who engage the community, listen to their concerns, and articulate conservative solutions for a modern and growing Texas. I stand ready for that challenge.
- Justin Ray supported installing Red light cameras when over 600 ctizens signed a petition saying ‘No’ to installing them.
- Increase maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate,
- Using certificates of obligation to incur debt without voter approval.
I would be grateful if you would become a Charter Member of my campaign with a contribution of $500, $250, $100 or $50 today. Your contribution today will send a clear message to Jon Rosenthal and his East and West Coast liberal donors that we are taking back our House District!
In 2018, 75% of Jon Rosenthal’s contributions came from outside of Texas and according to Rice UniversitVs Mark Jones’ exhaustive review of every vote taken in this past legislative session, Jon Rosenthal is the 5th most liberal member of the Texas House of Representatives.
I believe I am the best candidate to win our district back because of the lessons and values taught to me while growing up in Jersey Village. I graduated from Jersey Village High School and received my undergraduate degree from the University of Houston and law degree from South Texas College of Law and now work in the oil and gas industry.
However it omits his companies went dry as a West Texas dry hole.
Mayor Ray endorses the concept of government interfering in the market via subsidy to build favored projects
My wonderful wife Allison is a Special Education teacher specializing in visual impairments as well as a PTO board member at Post Elementary. We are members of Champion Forest Baptist Church Jersey Village where my family have been members since 1990. Most importantly, we are the proud parents of Evan, Lauren, and Ellen.
I know this community because I was raised here, go to church here, and Allison and I are raising our children here. I’m not afraid of hard work. Since announcing my candidacy, we have already knocked on over 1,000 doors and have many more thousands to go.
As your State Representative, I want to use my principled, experienced leadership to work tirelessly representing our district’s values and identifying common sense, conservative solutions for our dynamic community.
A blog that Bobby Warren, Justin Ray’s Treasuer wrote between 2005-2006 called “Progressive Texan”, where he described himself as a “dyed in the wool Democrat.” Bobby voted regularly in Democratic primaries up to and including the 2012 primary, sat out the 2014 primary, and voted in GOP primaries in 2016 and 2018.
On his “Progressive Texan” blog, he described a group of citizens that launched a petition drive to reverse a sanctuary city policy in Houston as “right-wing moonbats”.
Your support today will keep our momentum going and bring us closer to defeating Jon Rosenthal and returning Texas’ conservative values to Northwest Harris County.
Thank you for taking a moment to learn more about me and my campaign. Allison and look forward to hearing from you very soon.