With 100% of precincts now reporting results, voters in The Woodlands have soundly defeated incorporation. The failure of incorporation at the ballot box was the result predicted by the Texas Citizen Journal’s forecast model, released the day before the election.
The proposal for The Woodlands to incorporate actually appeared on the ballot as two separate propositions: Proposition A would have authorized incorporating The Woodlands Township into a city, while Proposition B would have transferred the powers and rights of the township to a new City of The Woodlands. However, it wasn’t meant to be.
Both propositions were defeated by wide margins. Proposition A failed 14,868 to 6,938, or 68.18% to 31.82%. Proposition B failed 14,767 to 6,996, or 67.85% to 32.15%.
The battle over incorporation became increasingly negative and personal as the race drew to a close. The controversy pitted the majority of The Woodlands Township board, led by Chairman Gordy Bunch, who supported incorporation, against local county officials such as Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack and developers like the Howard Hughes Corporation who opposed the measure. Montgomery County’s two tea party groups, the Texas Patriots PAC and the Montgomery County Tea Party PAC, both campaigned for incorporation, while many in the local “establishment” opposed it, including former township chairman Bruce Tough and Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX).
Advocates of incorporated argued it would give residents of The Woodlands greater control over local affairs and more independence from the county. They also pointed out that The Woodlands was missing out on federal funds due to not being a city. Opponents of incorporation argued that the proposal was “rushed, risky, and expensive”. Conservatives against incorporation warned that it would create a whole new layer of government and bureaucracy, and inevitably lead to an increase in taxes.
As fervid as the debate over incorporation has been leading up to the election, the post-mortem commentary has been just as heated. As soon as the results were released, Noack came out swinging against the various pro-incorporation groups who had once been his allies.
Noack accused the township board of “ambushing” the voters with the propositions and said that Bunch’s use of taxpayer dollars to send pro-incorporation literature to voters was, “an affront to public trust.” He also went after Texas Patriots PAC President Julie Turner, claiming she “betrayed” the residents.
“In The Woodlands, we still believe in smaller government, fiscal responsibility, and limited power, which is why voters were overwhelmingly against incorporation all along,” said Noack. “It’s a shame the Township Board chose to ignore, and in some cases actively suppress, residents’ voices.”
Meanwhile, conservative firebrand and pro-incorporation activist Jon Bouche took to Facebook to express his thoughts on the result:
“The Woodlands Incorporation votes have been counted and it seems that the chickens have voted for Colonel Sanders,” said Bouche.
The overwhelming vote against incorporation sends a signal that is very loud and clear. Residents of The Woodlands are happy with the township and for various reasons do not want to change their current system of government into a city- at least at this time. Incorporation can be put on the ballot again as often as the board chooses. However, the people have spoken and the message from residents is resounding and obvious: no incorporation. Those who ignore it do so at their own peril.
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