Konzem challenges Fletcher in May 4 Shenandoah City Council election, focused on ethics, spending

Andrea Konzem, candidate for Shenandoah City Council, Place 2, running as a Reform candidate against incumbent City Councilman Ted Fletcher.

Shenandoah, February 21 – Andrea Konzem, a 33-year resident of the City of Shenandoah, has announced her candidacy for the City Council, Place 2, in the May 4, 2019, election. Konzem gave an exclusive interview to The Golden Hammer and summarized her position, “I have a lot of concerns about unnecessary spending and I want the citizens to feel as though the operations of their city is open and completely transparent to them.”

Konzem moved to Shenandoah from Spring in 1986. She grew up in East Montgomery County and graduated from New Caney High School in 1979. After high school, Konzem attend North Harris College where she studied for and received an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science and Legal Assisting.

Konzem and her husband Greg have one daughter, Steffani, age 32. After Steffani’s husband died in a tragic accident in 2015, Steffani has raised her two daughters who are, of course, Konzem’s two grandchildren.

Konzem has worked as a legal assistant. She has worked with an insurance defense law firm and also worked for an oil company at one point in her career. Konzem presently works part-time as a legal assistant for an attorney in Conroe who does family law.

“I have issues with the way the city is run,” Konzem explained. “I don’t feel they’re 100% in favor of the citizens.” During 2017 and 2018, Konzem submitted several requests to the City under the Texas Public Information Act. “I was just trying to find out what was going on, but they didn’t want me to have the information.”

Konzem explained that, if she’s elected, she would work very hard to bring more transparency to the City Council and the City government in general. “I sent an Open Records request to find out who had key cards to the City offices. They wouldn’t come right out and tell me, and actually refused and sent my request to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for a ruling. The Attorney General told them to give me the information.”

Konzem then explained that, when she received the list of employees who had key cards, she noticed that City Attorney William Ferebee’s name was not on the list, but that a number of former employees of the City were on the list of keycard holders. “Someone had shown me a photograph of Mr. Ferebee swiping with a key card, so I knew the City’s response wasn’t true.” After an additional Public Information Act request, the City trying to resist releasing the information, and the Attorney General ordering the City to comply, Konzem finally received confirmation that the Ferebee has his own keycard.

“I have questions about the use of the City Attorney and how much we’re spending in legal fees,” Konzem said. “When his contract expired, the city should have gone out for bids, but they didn’t do that.” Konzem also expressed concerns about work the City Attorney is doing on a sign ordinance which Konzem believes other city employees could prepare much more cheaply. “I’m also very concerned about private meetings our City Council members often have with the City Attorney at his office in The Woodlands. I wouldn’t be involved in such meetings. Meetings with the attorneys should only occur among Council members when they’re part of a formal City Council meeting or part of an executive session in a meeting,” Konzem added.

Konzem also questions why the City of Shenandoah pays a salary for Council members. “Serving our City should be a volunteer job which people do out of a feeling of public service. Instead, the City of Shenandoah not only pays a per meeting salary to Council members but also provides health insurance to them and their families. There’s no reason for that,” the candidate explained.

Similarly, she believes the City overpaid former City Administrator Greg Smith and that he had “too much power.” Konzem also criticized the current City Council for agreeing to pay such a large “golden parachute” out of City tax dollars to Smith after Shenandoah no longer employed him.

Konzem also raised questions about the City’s current health insurance coverage. “I think there’s a conflict of interest with the insurance agent who served on the City Council himself and who regularly invites the City Council members to his home for social events and business meetings. That shouldn’t be happening,” she said.

The candidate said that she is committed to winning this election. “On President’s Day, I went with my grandchildren to Plantersville to pick strawberries. Now that I’m back, I’m here for the next three months to win this race and bring reform to our City government.”

Konzem’s electoral opponent is Ted Fletcher, who came onto the City Council in 2017, after winning 48.27% of the vote in a three-way race and beating incumbent John Houston by two (2) votes out of 636 cast. Fletcher’s wife is Maritza Giselle “Ritzy” Fletcher, whom citizens know as the lady who has disrupted City Council meetings and other community events.

When she’s not running for office or working, Konzem described that she enjoys working in her garden, taking care of her family, and spending a lot of time with her grandchildren.

 

 

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