Incumbent Dave Martin will face challenger Sam Cleveland in the race for Houston City Council District E, a peculiarly configured area which includes Kingwood in northeast Harris County, Clear Lake in southeast Harris County, and the Houston Ship Channel.
Early voting begins Oct. 21. Election day is Nov. 5.
Martin is a New Orleans native, Louisiana State University accounting graduate and Kings Point resident. He is managing director for Marsh and McLennan Companies. First elected to the Houston City Council in 2012, he’s asking District E voters to return him for a final, term-limited four-year term.
Cleveland moved to Kingwood from western Wisconsin. He is a graduate of the bachelor’s and master’s programs in criminal justice at Sam Houston State University and is a Houston Police Department officer.
When asked about his three top priorities other than flooding, Martin answered, “Flooding, flooding and flooding. Yes, mobility is important. We’re focused on intersection improvements throughout Kingwood and getting shovels in the ground within the next year to upgrade Northpark Drive. I’m committed to fighting for equity for our fair share of city funding, but flooding affects our livelihood, the value of our homes and whether businesses will move or stay.”
Flooding is a top priority for Cleveland as well.
“We need to isolate the causation of the floods,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are many sources we are being forced to address … we need to stop development until we determine the impacts it will cause. This can be done through regulatory processes.”
Cleveland believes there is no single cause for flooding and no single solution.
The Lake Houston area is susceptible to flooding, Martin explained, because of the 12 tributaries that flow into Lake Houston – and right through Kingwood – without any existing flood control.
Martin believes his actions speak for themselves over the last two years as he’s successfully ramped up spending for District E infrastructure improvements, drainage projects, storm prevention and risk reduction measures.
He authored a city amendment implementing Houston’s first Lake Houston maintenance program, the dredging and removal of 2.5 million cubic yards of debris from the West Fork of the San Jacinto, and secured $40 million for adding floodgates at the Lake Houston Spillway Dam in the next 36 months.
Cleveland also lists public safety, transparency in city politics and infrastructure as three additional top priorities.
Martin and his wife, Julie, are members of St. Martha’s Catholic Church and parents of three adult children, “… all products of Humble ISD. David is an orthopedic surgeon, Mike is a petroleum engineer, and Jennifer is a civil engineer, all graduates of the University of Texas,” the LSU graduate said, shaking his head.
What little free time he has is spent with his family, “… being with them puts a smile on my face,” Martin said.
When he’s stressed, he goes to the gym for a good workout, hits the greenbelt for a good run, or swats at the golf ball at the Clubs of Kingwood.
Cleveland and his wife, Katie, have three children, a 6-year-old and 3-year-old twins. They are members of Crossroads Fellowship Church.
“My hobbies are generally what my kids decide to do at that particular moment,” he said. “My favorite weekend activity is day trips with the family to Galveston. The kids are young, so having the opportunity to swim and watch dolphins from the ferry makes for a fun and cost-effective day away.”
A near brush with death during a lengthy illness in 2013 marked a turning point for Candidate Cleveland. He awoke from a coma to a world of silence. He had cochlear implant surgery and learned to ‘hear’ again.
Cleveland was the first deaf Houston police officer with cochlear implants and possibly the nation. This experience, he believes, set off a chain of events which became a desire to improve his community in which he served and run for office.
Martin got into politics in 2002 when the Humble ISD board decided not to build a third high school despite Humble being a fast-growing district. He became passionate about education. Then, influenced by extraordinary role models like former Humble ISD Superintendent Dr. Guy Sconzo, Martin served on the Harris County Sports Authority, the Greater Houston Partnership and eventually was elected to represent District E on the Houston City Council.
Martin compliments Cleveland for his public service.
“I can see that he’s a great public servant, good husband and good father and, really, that’s the most important thing of all,” he said.
Cleveland respects the service Martin has given.
“We differ in our views, but I believe we both have a desire to serve,” Cleveland said. “I have spoken to community members who think highly of his service. I hope I will find the same levels of support in the community if I am elected.”
Martin is running for a final four-year term, in part, because of three dates he’ll never forget: Aug. 27, 2017, May 7, 2019, and Sept. 19, 2019, all dates of major floods.
“If we continue to flood, businesses won’t come here. Residents will move. This is the survival of Kingwood,” he said.
Cleveland wants to determine what environmental design changes could address flooding. He supports a comprehensive plan focusing on infrastructure.
“Currently $10 million is set aside for flood mitigation in Kingwood. I would ask for an accounting of that money to determine how much was available and what projects were lined up to ensure we get our money’s worth,” he said.
To read Martin’s top priorities for Kingwood and District E or for more information about the Martin campaign, visit martinforhouston.com.
For Cleveland’s top priorities for Kingwood and District E or for more information about the Sam Cleveland campaign, visit samforhouston.com.
To find your polling place on election day, visit harrisvotes.org.