Power Top Ten #9: Businessman and power broker Simon Sequeira

Power Top Ten #9: Businessman and power broker Simon Sequeira

Image: Simon Sequeira (left) with public relations expert Margie Taylor (center) and Conroe City Councilman Harry Hardman (right).

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Montgomery County, December 7 – Businessman and power broker Simon Sequeira, the President and owner of Quadvest, L.P., a Magnolia-based utility company, is the Ninth Most Powerful of the Power Top Ten, the ten most powerful people in Montgomery County. Besides being a nice person and an honorable businessman, there’s no question that Sequeira puts his political money where his political mouth is, and that’s part of the reason that this very intelligent man has grown in influence so enormously during the past four years.

The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, continues the tradition of listing the Power Top Ten, the ten most powerful people in Montgomery County. The Power Top Ten doesn’t commemorate the ten best people in Montgomery County necessarily, but the most powerful people who are actually able to accomplish political or policy goals. In other words, she or he can get things done in Montgomery County. This year is the sixth that The Golden Hammer is publishing this list. In 2016, the former Publisher of this newspaper published the list on social media before this newspaper began.

To date, this newspaper has named one individual in the Power Top Ten:

#10: Judge Wayne Mack, Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace.

#9: Businessman and power broker Simon Sequeira

2022 is the fifth year in a row during which Sequeira made the Power Top Ten List. Sequeira’s big issue, which drew him into politics, was over-regulation of groundwater production by large-scale groundwater producers, of which Quadvest is most certainly one. That regulation came at the hands of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD), which, until the November, 2018, General Election fell firmly within the grasp and control of the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), which sought to regulate groundwater producers out of business, so they could not compete with SJRA’s surface water sales.

“Death by regulation is what I call the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District,” was probably the most impactful comment from anyone during Montgomery County’s November 2018 General Election. Quadvest President Simon Sequeira told that to the Montgomery County Tea Party and a capacity audience on August 6, 2018, which even included San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) General Manager Jace Houston and then-SJRA Board member Kaaren Cambio. If Sequeira could draw Houston, the engineer-lawyer who is a scion of the “establishment,” to a Tea Party meeting, then Sequeira can do just about anything politically.

That’s how The Golden Hammer began this article about Sequeira four years ago. Sequeira deserves the accolade again, because he hasn’t stopped his efforts.

Sequeira, the property rights advocate who is President of Quadvest utility company, has emerged as a major force. While he’s mostly identified with the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) nonpartisan election four years ago, there’s an important manner in which Sequeira profoundly helped the Montgomery County Republican Party. Sequeira has become a leading political campaign fundraiser not only for his causes but for conservative candidates and conservative movements. Sequeira contributed to reform efforts during the Republican Primary Election. He also helped to bankroll the Montgomery County Republican Party’s Victory 2018 campaign. Sequeira has remained a political player between 2019 and 2022.

In 2022, however, Sequeira’s political involvement took an interesting turn. Word leaked out of Conroe City Hall to the effect that Conroe Mayor Jody Czajkoski had secretly met with SJRA to settle with them and allow SJRA to receive several million dollars of water payments to which the City of Conroe had previously objected. Sequeira’s Quadvest is deeply involved in litigation against SJRA and its heavy-handed dealings with city governments such as Conroe. Therefore, Sequeira and his strong political ally, Conroe businessman and real estate developer Mike Stoecker, decided they would run a slate of candidates for the three open seats in the May, 2022, Conroe City Council election.

Ultimately, Sequeira’s entire slate of anti-SJRA City Council candidates, Howard Wood, Harry Hardman, and Marsha Porter, won election and comprise a majority of the five-member Conroe City Council. Wood, Hardman, and Porter have taken a domineering role in the Conroe city government and have worked very hard, along with former City Councilman Duke Coon, to try to bring reforms to City Hall.

When Coon runs for Mayor of Conroe in 2024, there’s no question that Sequeira and Stoecker will be among his biggest backers.

Sequeira began a public speaking campaign in early 2018 to explain the dynamics and technicalities of water over-regulation foisted on Montgomery County citizens by the LSGCD and its cohort, the SJRA. Sequeira isn’t a fiery speaker but he’s not a boring speaker either. In fact, his enthusiasm for the water issue resulted in thousands of citizens becoming knowledgeable about the issue and showing up to elect a pro-citizen LSGCD Board on November 6. Sequeira began a speaking tour on water regulation right around the Republican Primary Election and built a strong coalition of conservative activists who wanted to help restore property rights to groundwater producers and users in Montgomery County.

Sequeira has a modesty and lack of brashness that are rare among people with his influence. He’s got a brilliant mind, a pleasant personality, and a willingness to back up his beliefs with hard work and dedication.

Sequeira did a superb job making clear to the majority of voters that everyone needed a new LSGCD, so that we’d all have a chance to pay reasonable amounts for our water bills, or as brilliant political leader Jon Bouche, a close Sequeira ally, said, “Let’s stop suffering water bills where the dollar amounts have a comma in them.”

In 2018, Sequeira showed that he is willing to put his money where his mouth is. More importantly, Sequeira revealed to Montgomery County that he’s a brilliant strategist and communicator.

On November 15, 2019, Sequeira and Quadvest made the following announcement:

“Quadvest has filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) due to their illegal and criminal behavior. Rather than focus on their primary mission of flood control, SJRA has spent the last 20 years scheming to artificially control water rates in Montgomery County. As evidenced by their abject failure during Hurricane Harvey, SJRA has failed at their primary mission to protect the San Jacinto watershed. Instead, SJRA has violated the Clayton Act and the Sherman Act by illegally monopolizing and fixing the price of water in Montgomery County.

“SJRA has long desired to control all water in Montgomery County, but because our county is such a water-rich part of the state, there was no need for providers to turn to SJRA for help. In fact, Montgomery County possesses 180,000,000-acre feet of groundwater beneath it. More than all the lakes in Texas combined, multiplied by five. So, SJRA turns to another agency to do their dirty work, The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD). LSGCD, with SJRA sitting on its board, passed rules, later found to be illegal in court, that allowed SJRA to force water providers into illegal contracts that violate federal laws.

“Quadvest seeks the truth, fairness and justice for the people of Montgomery County.”

Sequeira has once again shown his fearlessness. In fact, United States District Judge Vanessa Gilmore of Houston agreed with Sequeira in a written opinion in 2020 denying SJRA’s motion to dismiss Quadvest’s antitrust lawsuit. SJRA is quaking in its boots, because it could lose its existence if that lawsuit goes the wrong way.

After Judge Gilmore refused to dismiss the case, SJRA appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. Sequeira and Quadvest beat SJRA again in the Fifth Circuit, which upheld Judge Gilmore’s decision. Quadvest is now in the midst of pretrial discovery in its antitrust lawsuit against SJRA.

Sequeira didn’t just work to elect the LSGCD Board of Directors. He didn’t just work to elect the Conroe City Council. Sequeira and his friend Stoecker have remained vigilant and monitored almost every Board and Council meeting. When LSGCD strayed from open government or property rights principles, Sequeira worked behind-the-scenes to correct the error of their ways, and he succeeded. Their vigilance has done nothing but benefit the citizens of Montgomery County and of Conroe.

Sequeira is extremely likable and smart. Don’t let his friendly image fool you. The man is a genuine powerhouse in business and politics.

 

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