The Cross Timbers Gazette asked each candidate in a contested race to answer a brief questionnaire to help voters make an informed decision at the polls this May. Election Day is Saturday, May 6, with early voting beginning Monday, April 24 running through Tuesday, May 2.
The candidates are listed in alphabetic order.
Flower Mound Town Council, Place 5 – (3-Year Term)
Planning & Zoning Chairman Claudio Forest is challenging Itamar Gelbman’s quest for a second term in Place 5, the first seat to have a three-year term as the transition from two- to three-year terms begins to take place.
Claudio Forest, 58
The main issues facing your town and how you would resolve them: One issue facing our town is future development and managing it effectively. We continue to remain selective and work towards attracting diverse companies that bring good jobs to town. At the same time, we need to address housing options to help attract those new workers and give them options to live here as well.
Why voters should elect you: Over the past several years, I have dedicated a significant portion of my personal time, as in hundreds of man hours and physical efforts, to being involved around town. I have served our town as a member of several boards and commissions since 2009, and have served our community through the Summit Club and other local charities. I have freely given of my time and service as I believe that a leader must be engaged in the community that they live in and volunteer their time to the best of their abilities.
As chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission for the past several years, I have proudly lead a group of commission members in protecting our town by maintaining and enforcing our high standards, studying the materials and asking the tough questions, and approaching every item before us with an open mind. Our meetings are managed professionally, where applicants and citizens are encouraged to participate, be heard, and are respected for their opinions and comments.
As the president of the Summit Club, the town’s oldest service organization, for the last five years, I have helped lead an impressive group of men in supporting many local charities and organizations with much needed funding and volunteer services. Our charitable service is dedicated to providing scholarships and academic achievement awards, chartering Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs, and supporting and funding middle school robotics teams, the Mound Foundation, Winning the Fight!, and many others. My goal for this organization has always been to be a steadfast partner for those in our community that need help and support, and we have continuously achieved that goal over the years, with many more to come.
Citizens should vote for me because I do care about our town, I am deeply involved in our community, and I have the background and knowledge to be informed, carefully listen to all view points, and make the right decisions for the Town of Flower Mound.
Current occupation: Vice President of Construction (National General Contractors/Managers)
Education: Architecture & Design / Construction
Current civic involvement: Chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission, Chairman of the SMARTGrowth Commission, Capital Improvements Advisory Committee, President of the Summit Club of Flower Mound
Past civic service: Member of the Board of Adjustments, past Secretary of the Community Development Corporation (CDC), member of the Fort Wildflower Steering Committee
Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings or civil suits: No
Additional Comments: I serve this community to the best of my ability by being prepared and knowledgeable about the issues we face in our town. My willingness to listen to experts, residents and staff helps shape my understanding of these issues and allows me to make informed decisions to benefit all.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ClaudioForestFlowerMound; Twitter: @ClaudioForestFlowerMound; and, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Itamar Gelbman, 34
The main issues facing your town and how you would resolve them: I strongly believe we are overbuilding the commercial base of our town. In many properties you can see newly posted vacancy signs and some local businesses are closing or barely making it. A brand new 14,000 SF Flower Mound shopping center built in 2015 is still 100% vacant. We are not at a sustainable balance between residential and commercial developments. We need to stick with the master plan which when drafted included a well-balanced vision between commercial and residential developments.
Why voters should re-elect you: I am seeking a reelection as my mission is to bring integrity and accountability to the town of Flower Mound. My fellow councilmembers are financially supported by developers and land owners who keep getting exemptions and waivers for developers. These include waivers from safety ordinances and development fees that end up being a financial burden on our current residents. In some cases, land owners who are personal friends of my fellow councilmembers have received waivers that no other person or company had ever received in Flower Mound. Waivers set precedent for future waivers and open doors for legal actions if we do not approve other developers with the same exemptions.
Current occupation: Small Business Owner
Education: B.S. Computer Science and Business Management
Current civic involvement: I volunteer in many nonprofit organizations, including those that support terminally ill children and severely wounded veterans. One of these groups builds smart homes for double, triple and quadruple amputees. I currently serve as an officer in the Texas State Guard.
Past civic service: I am a past Flower Mound P&Z commissioner and veteran of the Israeli Defense Force and former Reserve Police Officer (Israel P.D).
Have you ever been arrested or involved in any criminal proceedings or civil suits? If so, please explain: A Flower Mound resident, who asked me to have my wife (a veterinarian) provide him with illegal drugs, filed an ethic complaint against me after we refused to provide him with such drugs. The case was “No Billed” and dismissed by the Grand Jury.
Additional Comments: My opponent is a commercial real estate developer who many believe approves developments, waivers and exemptions in Flower Mound to the degree it can be considered a “rubber stamp”. We need to send a clear message to the developers that Flower Mound is not for sell for the highest bidder. We are a great family-oriented community and we will fight for our town to continue being so for generations to come.
In addition, The Cross Timbers Gazette will sponsor three public Candidate Forums: Argyle Town Council candidates on Thursday, April 13, at 7 p.m. at Argyle Town Hall, 308 Denton Street; Flower Mound Town Council candidates on Wednesday, April 19, at 7 p.m. at Flower Mound Town Hall, 2121 Cross Timbers Road; and, Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees candidates in the Lewisville ISD Bolin Administrative Center at 1565 West Main Street in Lewisville on Thursday, April 20, at 6:30 p.m.