Get to Know District J City Council Candidate Ivan Sanchez

Get to Know District J City Council Candidate Ivan Sanchez

Southwest Houston is “a side of town that I believe has been neglected for a very long time,” said Ivan Sanchez, sitting at the head of a long white table in his campaign headquarters, a corner office with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Galleria area.

Sanchez, the founder and president of Houston Millennials, is running against incumbent Edward Pollard to represent District J—covering much of the Sharpstown/Braeburn/Westwood/Mid-West/Gulfton area—on Houston’s City Council.

Sanchez said “the most important thing in our entire agenda is public safety.” For him, that’s personal.

Sanchez said he was born in Colombia, where his mother’s office was blown up and his geophysicist father was “kidnapped four times by the narco-socialists,” who began threatening him and his siblings.

His mother had enough. When Ivan was six, she fled to the U.S. with him and his siblings, "learned English while going to law school," and built a successful real estate lending company, Gold Quest Group.

After she passed away from cancer, “I wanted to be at least half of who she was,” he said.

Later, when he lived in an apartment at 7510 Hornwood, just behind Sharpstown Mall, he saw “two dead bodies in dumpsters" and apartments "flooded with cops." It was a far cry from the stories he heard of the days when Sharpstown Mall was "glorious," back in the 1970s.

Growing up, he wasn’t interested in politics or voting, he said. But at the University of Houston Downtown, a political science class "fascinated" him, and he joined the student government association, eventually becoming president.

After graduating with a B.A. in Political Science, he worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for six years in the office of Sheila Jackson Lee. (He ran for the U.S. House himself in 2018, but lost to Lizzie Fletcher in the Democratic primary.)

He also founded Houston Millennials, an organization that “promotes millennials into positions of power” and boasts 8,900 members, according to its website. He also spent time as a commercial real estate lender for Gold Quest Group, his family’s company.

Now, he’s a “full-time candidate” hoping to become a “full-time District J council member” and make Sharpstown safer and cleaner.

How Does He Plan to Spend District J's Money?

Each district council member receives a $1 million discretionary fund each year to spend as they wish. If Sanchez gets elected, he plans to spend 65-70% of District J’s discretionary fund on better policing: additional officers, overtime pay, and possibly technology, resources, and training.

How Does He Plan to Address Some of the Big Issues?

  • Sex Trafficking: Sanchez's campaign platform focuses heavily on fighting local sex trafficking. He calls the current Bissonnet Track blockade "not even a Band-Aid" because of the costs of manning the barricade with police officers. He also claims that, even though victims need a place to stay when escaping their traffickers, there are no shelter beds for sex trafficking survivors in Houston. Sanchez wants to apply for federal grants to address that problem, bring awareness, and "work really closely with NGOs and nonprofits."
  • Policing: Sanchez says he doesn't want to get rid of the District J Patrol created by Pollard. Instead, he believes in "revamping" it and giving it "more tools to [deal with] the violent crime that's going on." Currently, the District J Patrol focuses only on smaller crimes: "quality of life concerns" and "neighborhood violations" like graffiti, illegal dumping, and panhandling (according to its website).
  • Sharpstown Mall: Sanchez also wants to “rehab Sharpstown Mall” (now known as PlazAmericas) through public/private partnerships. He wants to fix the parking lot, get rid of rusting signs, pick up litter, plant trees, add lights, teach financial literacy to businesses, and try to bring an HPD storefront to the mall. His goal would be to beautify the mall and make it attractive for anchor tenants and private rehab loans. When voting on City Council, he also wants to make the permitting process easier for real estate developers (what he calls the "approved in two" process).
  • Illegal Dumping: Sanchez plans to create the "District J Decontamination Unit" to clean up trash across the district.

What’s His Approach to Government?

Ivan Sanchez and his campaign manager, Camilo Sanchez, favor proactive rather than “reactive” government. They contrast their approach with that of incumbent Edward Pollard, who focuses heavily on responding to issues reported by constituents.

For example, the current District J Patrol targets issues reported through its website.

But Sanchez and his team think there's another way. They've bounced around an idea to use the city's crime data to study patterns and preemptively place officers in areas that are known to have higher crime in certain seasons.

They want to look for other patterns too—such as which roads break often at high temperatures, which streetlights tend to go out after storms, and which areas have high rates of illegal dumping. That way, they could proactively fix issues without waiting for them to be reported by constituents.

But currently, they don't have full access to the city's data (regular citizens must pay to request data under the Freedom of Information Act). So they aren't certain about exactly how they could use the data.

But Sanchez thinks there's hope: "Now, AI is getting better...dashboards are getting better. So it's about getting all this information together and trying to prevent crime before it even happens."

District J voters, do you have questions that you'd like the Sharpener to ask Ivan Sanchez? Please let us know at