The race for mayor of Humble is heating up. The candidates have expressed their differences in multiple town halls and forums and in interviews with The Tribune.

Candidate Norman Funderburk is firmly touting his 14 years of community experience and seven years on Humble City Council. Candidate Arliss Bentley is reminding voters she is running as the underdog having been denied a council seat twice by voters and overlooked when requesting appointment to the vacant city council seat.

The Tribune asked the two candidates to select a colleague to speak about support for their candidate. The Tribune also asked the candidates for responses to two questions that were raised at the town halls. 

Norman Funderburk

Norman Funderburk is a native Houstonian and, along with wife, Kathy, a 1970 graduate of Humble High School. Funderburk attended both Texas A&M University and the University of Houston before spending the next 42 years in the engineering/construction industry. Before retiring, he was a vice-president with Koch Specialty Plant Services where he was responsible for management and oversight of more than 200 engineering projects each year in the refining and petrochemical industry.

Endorsement by Mary Lea Layton-Taylor

Mary Lea Layton-Taylor has known Funderburk since he was a high school sophomore working at Schott’s Grocery. The life-long, 97-year-old resident of Humble served with Funderburk as a trustee on the Northeast Hospital Board of Authority, calling him an effective leader, wise counsel and diligent trustee.

Layton-Taylor praised Funderburk’s tenure on city council for his ability to think through all situations, listen to differing opinions and make sound, meaningful decisions, making him the perfect selection as Humble’s next mayor.

In witnessing his interaction with Humble’s senior citizens, she praised his compassion citing his recent efforts providing transportation for several seniors for both of their COVID-19 shots.

Funderburk genuinely cares about Humble, all of it, Layton-Taylor wrote, with a deep passion for the city’s development, yet maintaining the feel of “Old Humble.”  She wrote that Funderburk’s past career, community involvement at city hall and at United City Church, and his genuine consideration for others, has given him the necessary experience to be mayor and, she writes, experience matters.

Do you/have you attended city council meetings in the past?

I attended city council meetings regularly long before I was elected to the council.

With the senior center closed and activities moved to the civic center, what do you propose should be done?

The city of Humble cares very deeply about our seniors and understands the importance of having a space dedicated to their activities. It is my desire and intention to see the program improve, become more energized and thereby grow and attract more participation from area residents. 

While the program is currently active utilizing the event room in the civic center, I believe that the group will be happiest once they have space dedicated to them for their activities. I fully support the proposal to budget funds to construct an addition to the civic center that will serve as their new permanent home. This space would be designed to meet the needs of the seniors and their specific activities, also utilizing their input into the design. With a dedicated entrance, a kitchen area, storage space and even a pickle ball court, I believe the space will ultimately be a home that our seniors will be proud of and will no doubt serve as a catalyst for growth of the program.

Our seniors are an important part of our community and I will always be supportive of initiatives to keep them involved and active.

Name your top priorities.

  1. Continue to remain fiscally responsible while delivering the best possible core services to our residents and equipping our departments adequately.

  2. Continue to improve flood control measures by collaborating with other groups as a strong collective voice.

  3. Continue to focus on long-term planning and assessment of our future needs.

  4. Continue to improve, amending and updating ordinances to insure Humble remains attractive and safe.

What has prepared you for this position?

As mayor pro tem for four of the seven years, I was on council, I learned first-hand the countless responsibilities necessary to govern a city. Each of our previous mayors had that hands-on experience. I now have that experience and those skills and am ready to lead.  

What positions have you held that prepare you to manage the city budget?

My extensive work experience, combined with community and public experience, included many roles and responsibilities involving financials as well as budget preparation and oversight. 

  • As Koch vice-president, provided revenue and profit projections. Responsible for department annual budget. 

  • Served twice on stewardship committee at Humble Area’s First Baptist Church, responsible for proposed annual budget to the congregation, followed by review committee meetings.    

  • Seven years on city council, with review and approval of annual proposed budget.  

My years of proven experience include oversight of budgets, managing business to profitable outcomes, managing contracts, managing projects, and managing personnel. Proven experience. And experience matters. 

Arliss Ann Bentley

Arliss Ann Bentley is a 47-year resident of Humble and is an energetic woman with a passion for the city and the citizens of Humble. She holds a master’s degree in education and taught elementary through high school students for more than 40 years. She also supervised alternative certification teaching candidates with Region IV for seven years.

Endorsement by Paula Meeks

Paulette Meeks, who called herself a fellow resident who loves her city as Bentley does, points out that many residents already know Bentley because she has lived in Humble for 47 years, as well as taught them and their children in the Humble ISD, helped many of her neighbors in need, visited nursing home residents, worked for years on beautifying Humble as a volunteer of the beautification committee and attended most city council meetings twice a month for the past 15 years.

Meeks praised Bentley for her faith, perseverance, courage, honest, kindness, love and care for others and her dedication to the city. Bentley’s organizational skills are exceptional, Meeks wrote, and there is nothing too difficult for her to accomplish since she has the gift of being able to challenge others and lead them to achieve their best.

Leadership, perseverance, integrity, openness and putting others’ needs ahead of hers are all qualities of her candidate, Bentley, she wrote. Meeks also wrote that she sees in Bentley a person skilled as a leader and that the city would be blessed to have. By selecting Bentley, Meeks wrote, voters will be choosing the best and adding a treasure to Humble’s local government. 

Do you/have you attended city council meetings in the past?

I have attended city council meetings for the last 15 years, twice a month.

With the senior center closed and activities moved to the civic center, what do you propose should be done?

With more than 650 active members, the senior population requires its own space for growth and adding new activities. The perfect location for the senior program would be the Lakeland Elementary property. I propose negotiations between Humble ISD and the city to purchase this property as a new senior program facility. If we cannot negotiate and secure the Lakeland property, the civic center should be repurposed as a community center with primary focus on senior programs.

Name your top priorities.

  1. Safety. Continue to build on the high level of services provided by the first responders. The security of our city is a top priority.

  2. Revitalization. Emphasis on attracting new businesses to Main Street and working toward transforming the civic center to a community center where every citizen will have greater benefits from the use of their own tax dollars. Zoning. Start planning for the zoning process to preserve the appearance and growth of Humble for future generations.

What has prepared you for this position?

After listening to the concerns of residents during the last two campaigns, I am ready to find solutions to their issues with the help of city management and the department teams.

What positions have you held that prepare you to manage the city budget?

As a teacher with Humble ISD, I managed my department budget keeping expenditures within the budget. I have attended the city public budget hearings for 15 years where I receive and study the same booklet that the mayor and council are given for review. I have made recommendations just as the council members do that may be included in the final budget. Ultimately, the management of the budget lies with the directors, CFO and city manager. The council’s responsibility is to set and approve the budget based upon the recommendations of the directors.

The Humble city general election is set for May 1.

Early voting continues through Tuesday April 27, and Election Day is Saturday, May 1, at the Humble Civic Center. Additional early voting centers are open throughout Harris County. For a complete list, harrisvotes.com.

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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