Needvillenews.com created a City Council Candidate Survey in the hopes that incumbents and candidates would share their background, strengths, and ideas for the citizens to consider in advance of the election. Candidates were asked to complete the survey by May 8th, 2011, with the understanding that responses to questions would be published unedited and without commentary by NeedvilleNews.com.
The unedited content is presented below, as submitted by Pam Blasingame
Name/Occupation: Pam Blasingame/Paralegal
Position Sought (incumbents too): City Council-Alderman
1.Please share information about your education, professional experience, and community service to give citizens a more complete picture of you as a candidate:
I moved to Needville from Austin where I was born and raised almost 20 years ago when Robert (“Bubba”) and I married. Our family has lived in the Needville area since that time. Robert and I have a 17 year old daughter, Bailey, who is currently a Junior at NHS. Bailey is a Varsity Cheerleader and member of Needville FFA. Robert and I are actively involved with Bailey’s FFA projects, raising and showing livestock, and we support the Needville Youth Fair, Fort Bend County Fair, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, among other organizations. Our family loves and supports NISD athletics, particularly, Blue Jay Football. Go Jays!! I have a son, Dalton Wallace, from a prior marriage. Robert helped me raise Dalton, who entered NISD in the 3rd grade. He graduated from NHS in 2002. Dalton is now 27 and lives and works in Austin. As for service to the community, Robert, Bailey and I are members of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, where Robert and I serve as Extraordinary Ministers. Robert is a proud 4th Degree Knight, and I support KC activities and events, as well.
Professionally, I have worked 30 years in the legal field, the majority of those years in the capacity of a litigation paralegal. By way of overview, as a litigation paralegal, I participate in all aspects of case preparation, and provide trial assistance and Courtroom support to attorneys practicing in Federal, State, and County Courts at Law. Since 2006, I have worked in the Admiralty & Maritime Law section of the Houston office of Chamberlain Hrdlicka. The primary focus of our practice group is representing offshore drilling contractors and dredging companies, defending Jones Act and General Maritime claims brought by injured workers. Prior to 2006, I spent about 10 years with a general insurance defense practice in Sugar Land. When I first moved to Needville, I worked a number of years for the Houston firm f/k/a Hirsch Glover, providing litigation and trial support to a practice group whose forte was defending claims brought against municipalities and their government officials and local police departments and county government officials and law enforcement agencies. In 1986, I attained a Paralegal Certification from Durham Nixon Clay Business College-Austin, following a two-year course study. I had already spent about 5 years in the legal field at the time I pursued Certification.
2. What is your main reason for seeking the position listed above as a candidate or incumbent?
The residents of Needville deserve a City Council that is creative and forward thinking, one that is proactive, diligent, and deals in an assertive and forthright manner with respect to any and all issues before it. In my line of work, it is paramount that I not only possess but that I also utilize daily each of these same traits. Our current City Council does not appear to possess these traits, or at the very least, has lost the ability to effectively utilize them. As a consequence, the City has remained dormant for an extended time and is now stagnating under what I characterize as the “our hands are tied” and “we’re doing everything we can with what we have” attitude.
By no means should my comments be construed as feelings of ill will toward any current or former members of City Council. As I said openly during the recent Candidate Forum, I appreciate and thank those individuals for their dedication and service to the City. Having said that, it’s time we move forward. The City has seen sizeable growth in recent years, and there is every indication this trend will continue in the near and obviously the distant future. We must plan accordingly. Certainly, we’ve all noticed how rapidly the Richmond-Rosenberg area is moving toward us, and how the boundaries of Sugar Land appear to be ever expanding. While we should no longer sit idly by, moving forward simply cannot and will not happen with the “business as usual attitude” of the current City Council.
My general philosophy is that one truly has no standing to voice concerns AND expect such concerns to be addressed unless he/she is willing to become part of the solution-making process. I am sure we have all heard too many complaints by persons who are unwilling to act. Said another way, we all know people who do nothing but gripe and complain, yet offer little if anything by way of constructive input. I am more than willing and prepared and I am certainly able to act on behalf of the City and its residents. In essence, the primary reason I seek election to the position of City Council-Alderman is to become part of the solution-making process.
3. Name your top three priorities for the city and how you would plan on implementing them?
- Closely scrutinize the City’s Budget. I would start by attempting to identify and eliminate any waste within the Budget, and scale back funding of any non-essential services, if and where possible. The goal here being apportionment of available funds to essential public services such as the Police and Fire Departments. From what I can discern, both have lacked adequate support and funding in the past.
- See protracted water well project to fruition, without further delay. While the current water system continues to deteriorate, our rates have increased to the point where it takes a second or third job to be able to afford to water the lawn. The additional well should ease burden on the existing well(s). Hopefully, this will also eliminate the rust-tinged water and other issues most of us experience with the current system.
- Research economic development opportunities, and design and implement various marketing tools to attract new businesses and their resultant stream of commerce and tax revenue to the City. Ferreting out economic development opportunities will require creativity and diligence. This process will not happen overnight. A proactive and steadfast approach to this endeavor will be the only way to make up for lost time. Some additional thoughts follow.
4. What ideas do you have for attracting businesses and homeowners to the area in the immediate future?
The trend of families moving into NISD has been steady for many years. Several subdivisions which I mentioned during the recent Candidate Forum (Fallwood, Highland Pointe, and others) were not in existence 20 years ago when I moved to Needville. These subdivisions account for a sizeable number of homeowners within the City, which in turn, translates into a sizeable number of taxpayers and tax revenue. I do not believe attracting homeowners to Needville is a problem. Attracting businesses to Needville, on the other hand, will be a real challenge. For starters, consider a brief period of abatement of sales or other taxes as an incentive. We should also research to locate and apply for any and all available funds toward economic development. Any funds the City has previously been awarded should be utilized vs. placed on hold for an indefinite period. Find a means by which to comply with the parameters of any funding award, and utilize those funds. Other ideas are to tout the quaintness of our community and its close proximity to “big city” business just a few miles down the road. Tout the successes of NISD. Again, creativity and diligence will be required to identify businesses that would consider relocation to Needville.
5. Do you support the use of zoning or residential ordinances within the city limits? Please offer an explanation.
Generally speaking, I support zoning or residential ordinances. Homes with piles of bagged garbage, broken lawn equipment, vehicles in various stages of disrepair, and other general clutter not only make our City less pleasing to the eye, these conditions also present health concerns. Ordinances requiring homeowners and/or their tenants to rectify this unsightliness would certainly be welcome. Ordinances requiring business owners to eliminate unsightly dumpster overflow and to clean up greasy and dirty sidewalks and exteriors that are overridden with cigarette butts would likewise be welcome.
6. What efforts do you believe could be made, or have been made, by the City of Needville to provide greater governmental transparency to the citizens of Needville?
The Texas Government Code dictates, among many other things, how for example open meetings of governmental bodies such as School Boards and City Councils are to be conducted, and, whether and to what extent and within what timeframe and at what cost information that has been requested and is not otherwise exempt from disclosure is to be made available to the public. “Governmental transparency” isn’t discretionary.
With respect to the City’s website, I believe that any perceived lack of transparency in this regard is likely the result of operation and not design. The fact that there exist dead links and other missing contact information does not in and of itself evidence lack of transparency. The current status of the City’s website suggests that efforts by the City to move into the electronic age are slow to come. In fairness, the expense associated with having a web master on board might well explain why the City’s website, at present, is neither navigationally-friendly, updated nor complete – it remains a work in progress. As an aside, some of the “seasoned” lawyers I work with still profess that picking up the telephone is the most efficient means by which to gain information and/or make contact with someone. A similar thought process may be prevalent amongst the City.
7. What other issues or ideas would you like to share with voters to support your candidacy?
As I commented during the Candidate Forum, hesitating to use the “C” word that was overused during the last Presidential Election, Needville is “different” than it was 20 years ago when I moved to the area. The demographics alone over this same period have changed dramatically. I believe it is this vast difference in demographics, and more broadly, the vast difference in the way our world is today vs. how it was 15-20 years ago, that renders ineffective the overall approach and pace by which our current City Council operates.
As many have recognized and I repeat here, the possibilities for the future of the City of Needville are endless. With the right people in place, we can and will begin the process of moving forward. I am hopeful that my participating in this Candidate Survey enlightens voters as to my overall thought processes. I appreciate your time, and I ask for your support and vote on May 14th.