Update: Who's Running for the Sharpstown Civic Board So Far? Concerns Raised about Nomination Process

Update: Who's Running for the Sharpstown Civic Board So Far? Concerns Raised about Nomination Process
The neighborhoods that are part of the Sharpstown Civic Association. Image Credit: SCA

If you live in one of the ~6,800 single-family homes in Sharpstown, chances are you’ve never been to a Sharpstown Civic Association meeting. But the local 501(c)(4) nonprofit directly affects your life.

It enforces deed restrictions (rules about what you can and can’t do with your house), pays for neighborhood S.E.A.L. Security patrols and mosquito spraying, helps put on Sharpstown’s annual Liberty Fest, and puts out the SCAN (that glossy magazine you get once every couple months).

Who’s in charge of the civic association? Well, this October and November, you get to help decide (if you pay your $80 membership dues, that is).

Several board positions are up for election, plus the offices of president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.

How do candidates get nominated? Normally, there are two ways. The first is to be selected by the SCA's nominating committee and approved by the board. The second is to be nominated from the floor at the October general meeting.

On Monday, September 11, the current board met to vote on a list of candidates presented by the nominating committee. However, confusion arose after SCA member Jim Bigham read board members a portion from the SCA bylaws, which say, "Each year, a nominating committee shall be appointed by the current board of directors."

As Bigham pointed out, the SCA's published board minutes for 2023 (January - June) contain no record of the nominating committee being appointed.

Directors Carlos Martinez and Kathy Holston asked if and when the board had appointed the committee. Director Matthew Cowan replied that president Charmaine LeBlanc had directly appointed Cowan and director Matt Wine (not present) as the two members of the nominating committee in January. "We don't vote on committee members," said LeBlanc.

Martinez asked Cowan about the sentence from the bylaws that Bigham had read, and Cowan replied, "That is the process we used." Martinez did not appear convinced, but LeBlanc said "We're not going to look at that tonight. We will look at that afterwards."

Director Helen Zhou expressed concern that she did not know several of the people on the list. Director Holston asked, "Can you tell us something about them?" LeBlanc replied, "This is not the time to get to know these people." However, Cowan said that the committee had tried to find candidates "outside of the typical circle of people."

The board voted (but not unanimously) to approve the list of candidates and present them to the SCA members at the September 28 general meeting at Bayland Community Center at 6:30 PM. Here's the list of names:

For director positions:

  • Matthew Cowan (incumbent)
  • Donna Fain (incumbent)
  • Mark Harrison (incumbent)
  • Byrom Wehner (incumbent)
  • Maria Allison
  • Sydney Bumpass
  • Sharon Galloway
  • Mike Marshall
  • Mario Pinheiro

For officer positions:

  • President: Matthew Cowan (nominated by Charmaine LeBlanc)
  • Vice President: Elizabeth Schooler
  • Secretary: Annie Love
  • Treasurer: Helen Zhou

Do these people automatically get elected? No.

If you’re a dues-paying member of the SCA, you can nominate candidates from the floor of the October 26 general meeting. You can even nominate yourself.

Board members are expected to pay their yearly dues ahead of time and attend monthly board meetings consistently. At the meetings, board members discuss and vote on decisions about hosting community events, enforcing deed restrictions, managing the SCA’s finances, and more.

Board members serve in two-year terms, staggered in two groups. Last year, SCA members elected the “A slot” board members, who are not up for election this year. They’re already serving through the end of 2024.

The “A slot” board members are Kathy Holston, Charmaine LeBlanc, Annie Love, Carlos Martinez, Pat Menville, Elizabeth Schooler, Matt Wine, and Helen Zhou. You won't be voting to decide whether they get on the board this November, because they're already on.

Instead, this year, SCA members will get to elect the “B slot” board members for 2024, since the current “B slot” terms are expiring at the end of this year.

The president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer serve one-year terms. Charmaine LeBlanc is not seeking reelection as president.

The election will be held at the November 16 general meeting.

The Sharpener is still waiting for a full response from President LeBlanc and Director Cowan. Stay tuned for more.

This article was updated to reflect the controversy surrounding the nominations. As such, this version of the article refrains from explicitly calling Matthew Cowan and Matt Wine "the nominating committee," and mentions concerns raised by general members and board members.

The stated number of single-family homes in Sharpstown was edited from ~7,000 to ~6,800.

This article was updated earlier to reflect that Charmaine LeBlanc, Pat Menville, and Matt Wine are "A slot" board members.