Sugar Land Elects New Mayor
Businessman And Engineer Joe Zimmerman Takes The Reins At City Hall
By Judy Latta
The voters of Sugar Land have chosen their new mayor. In June, Joe Zimmerman, a businessman and engineer by training and profession, was sworn in to replace James “Jimmy” Thompson as Sugar Land’s chief executive. Zimmerman, the city’s tenth elected mayor, hit the ground running with a focus on maintaining and improving the already exceptional quality of life for city residents. During his campaign, he promised voters that if elected he would work to make Sugar Land the safest city in America, invest in the city’s aging infrastructure, support responsible city government, build a strong local economy, and keep Sugar Land a great place to live, work or play.
Zimmerman says that as mayor his first priority is to pull the community back together from the divides that grew out a very contentious mayoral race. He says he will continue to reach out to all the communities of Sugar Land and he values input from all residents regarding their concerns. His other short-term goal is to “increase the homestead exemption from 8 percent to 10 percent to provide some tax relief for homeowners.”
Longer term, he has his sights set on advancing important economic initiatives launched by previous administrations. He says, “I wanted to run because I’ve seen other leaders, such as Jimmy Thompson, build this community into what it is now, and I wanted to make sure we kept up the good work.” A major project of his administration will be the development of the land surrounding the Sugar Land Airport. Plans for that property are to expand the Airport, build a much needed police and fire training facility to support the entire region, and construct an industrial development.
Zimmerman will also oversee and support the continued development of the new public plaza and performing arts center currently under construction southeast of Highway 59 and University Boulevard. This expandable, state-of-the-art live entertainment venue will house concerts, theater and more, and will be surrounded by retail, office, residential and commercial buildings, eventually including a hotel and conference center.
He also plans to address issues related to the continuing growth of the city, including congestion in the major corridors of Highways 6 and 90 and curbing the development of multi-family dwellings. Without sound planning, the problems of traffic congestion and school overcrowding will worsen as urban planners project that the population of Sugar Land will continue to explode with developer plans for new/expanding subdivisions and apartment complexes, and the likely annexation of the neighboring New Territory and Greatwood communities. Additionally, Sugar Land continues to attract big business to the area, including the new North American headquarters of Schlumberger Ltd., which will bring more than 500 new jobs to the area over the next three years. Zimmerman understands that all of this growth, while good for the area, means additional stress on Sugar Land’s already strained infrastructure.
A Public Servant with a Wealth of Experience
The new mayor has been actively involved in the Sugar Land community since he arrived more than 25 years ago. He says, “Nancy and I have always believed we have to give back to be rewarded, and we feel we have been rewarded a lot.”
To achieve the lofty goals he has set for himself as mayor, he intends to capitalize on his extensive experience in both the private and public sectors. He believes as a businessman by trade, he is well equipped to handle the challenges of his new position. He is proud to say, “we run this city like a business.” His experience in business and industry includes senior management positions in consulting, engineering, water/wastewater operations, land acquisition/development, and homebuilding, and he is currently the director of development at Cobb, Fendley & Associates, Inc.
His extensive public service experience includes serving as Sugar Land Council member; chairman, vice-chairman and member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission; chairman of the city’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee; member of the Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority; member of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; chairman of the Chamber’s Government Relations Division; member of the Fort Bend Literacy Council Board of Directors; and board member for Beechnut Street, Inc., an organization associated with Houston Baptist University.
A professional engineer licensed by the State of Texas, Zimmerman earned his engineering degree from the University of Houston and an MBA from Houston Baptist University, and he is a graduate of the Sugar Land Regional Airport Academy. He was named a member of the University of Houston Academy of Distinguished Civil and Environmental Engineers in 2014 and was awarded the “Service to the People Award” by the Texas Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.
A Devoted Husband, Father and Grandfather
Zimmerman and his wife, Nancy, married 40 years, moved from Houston to Sugar Land in 1990. “We decided to move here when my daughter Allison was born to be close to Nancy’s family in Sugar Creek,” he explains. The Zimmerman’s have one daughter, Allison, married to Chris Wallace, a granddaughter, 2-and-a-half year old Emmy, and a new baby grandson, Campbell, who was born at the height of the mayoral race frenzy. “There was a lot of excitement in the Zimmerman/Wallace family in the past few months,” he says with a chuckle. Zimmerman is a member of Second Baptist Church Woodway and an active community volunteer.
When not working, he enjoys spending time with Nancy, Allison and her family, and his mother-in-law, Adelina Davis, also known in his house as “Nanny.” “We are a very tight-knit family,” he says. “We vacation together, and Chris and I like to bird hunt and play golf.” Zimmerman and his family are optimistic about the future of Sugar Land. He says, “we are very excited, Nancy and I both, about becoming mayor and first lady. We know there are a lot of great things to come in the months and years ahead.”