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Alan Richel: The Woodlands Township Candidate

Please note that Hello Woodlands is an unbiased, nonpartisan news source that does not support only one party or candidate. We do not accept or receive advertising or funding from any candidate, party or group. We believe in providing the community with educational information, credible facts, thoroughly researched topics and articles, and to be a voice for ALL members in our community.

Hello Woodlands gave the opportunity to candidates running for The Woodlands Township Board of Directors to complete a written interview including the same 10 questions. View candidate’s responses to our questions, if provided.

Each position has a two-year term, is an unpaid volunteer position, and is elected at-large by voters in The Woodlands Township in both Montgomery County and Harris County. The election is scheduled for November 5, 2019. Voters must be registered to vote for The Woodlands election.


Alan Richel is running for the Township Board Position 6.

1. Share your background. What originally brought you to The Woodlands?

Born in Manhattan (the Big Apple, not the city in Kansas), I have lived and worked in Washington, DC., Chicago, Illinois, Kansas City, MO, Los Angeles, CA, and Houston, TX.   

I have both a BA and MA in International Affairs from The George Washington University in Washington, DC and an MBA in marketing and management from Loyola University of Chicago and a degree from the American University of Paris. 

As for the bulk of my career, I chose the Federal government because I believe in public service, serving my community and my country, and I have done so for 34 years.  Retiring four years ago as a Senior International Trade Specialist with the US Department of Commerce’s US and Foreign Commercial Service (the export promotion arm of the US government), I worked with US Embassies and Consulates around the world to help Houston area companies find overseas buyers and to support them all along the export process.

Prior to my 19 years of service with the US Department of Commerce, I was the Administrator (i.e. Chief Operating Officer) of a US-Yugoslav joint venture company in Los Angeles that designed school buses for the west coast of the US and manufactured them with US components in Slovenia.  I was involved in the first import of a commercial vehicle from Yugoslavia.

I have nearly 15 years in public transportation grants with the predecessor organization to the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration, the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, in Washington, DC, Chicago, and Kansas City, including several years as the Director of Transit Assistance in Kansas City.

While the majority of my career has been with the Federal Government, I also have significant private sector experience, as I indicated above in my position in Los Angeles.  I have also worked for Xerox and. FedEx in the Kansas City area. 

I was also a transportation consultant for several years and developed a transportation plan for the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning Montana and provided dial-a-ride software training for the State of Vermont and Green Cop0ve Springs, Florida.

I moved to the Woodlands in 2001, having accepted a promotion to Senior International Trade Specialist with the US Department of Commerce in Houston.

2. How do you contribute, give back and make a difference in our community?

As I have chosen a career in public service, I have given back to every community I have been a part of. I added value to each community when I was in public transportation by providing an alternative to the automobile.  Mass transit helps to reduce congestion, contributes to reduced air pollution, and provides an alternate means to get to and from work for those who do not have their own private transportation.,

In my position as a Senior International Trade Specialist, I worked with many companies in The Woodlands, guiding them along the export process and helping them to find overseas buyers.  Typically jobs that are involved in exporting pay more than those that are not.  This certainly has helped the local tax base and the country at large.  I am proud of my service to local businesses, big and small.  For several years, I worked one day a week out of the offices of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, as part of an effort to get closer to local businesses in The Woodlands.

3. Why do you enjoy living (and/or working) in The Woodlands?

I enjoy living in The Woodlands and enjoyed working here before I retired.  I worked at times out of my home office and also The Woodlands Area Chamber.  In particular, I enjoy the concerts at Northshore Park and at Hughes Landing, the variety we have of flora and fauna, the choices we have in restaurants, and so much more.  I remember my first impr3ession of The Woodlands was it seemed similar to a State or National Park with all the trees and resembled, at least to me at the time, the entryway to the Grand Canyon, driving north from Flagstaff, Arizona. It’s brilliantly designed and is one of the nicest places I’ve ever lived. 

4. How has The Woodlands helped and impacted you?

I recall when I first arrived here working in downtown Houston and having the long commute to The Woodlands.  It was worth the commute because I always felt at peace here, way from the hustle and bustle of the city.  It continues to have a calming effect and serves as a refuge, as a home should.

5. What motivates you to run for The Woodlands Township Board of Directors?

I am motivated to run for Position 6 because I see The Woodlands approaching an important inflection point in its history, and that revolves around approaching almost total build-out and the talk regarding incorporation as a means to avoid annexation by Houston or Conroe.  I felt it was time to put myself forward to offer the community a choice for a change, someone who questions everything and is not convinced of any position unless facts are presented in a fair and logical manner.  So, the facts as they have been presented thus far do not convince me of the need to incorporate, certainly not to avoid annexation, since that is now something the community would have to vote on.

6. What are 5 things that you want voters to know about you (personal, points, views, experience, etc.)?

I have learned much in my many years of work and just living. I have learned to be impassionate and objective in evaluating projects, or anything for that matter.  I have evaluated feasibility studies for construction projects that were pointing one direction and in the final report went the other direction without justifying the change.  Fortunately, I have had managers who supported me in this, and the right thing was done, not the political thing.

I am experienced in preparing and evaluating budgets.

I have travelled extensively for work and pleasure.  I have worked at the US Embassies in Beijing, China  and Nairobi, Kenya, as an acting Commercial Officer, and Acting Commercial Senior Commercial Officer (commercial attaché), respectively.

I was responsible for the grants that gave St. Louis its light rail system. 

Public service is in my blood. It is an honor and privilege to serve, but most important, perhaps, it is a responsibility when you are basically managing the public’s money.  You need to be as careful, (or more careful) with public tax monies, as you are with your own. 

7. What makes you unique in comparison to other candidates?

I am unique in that I have more experience in government than anyone else running.  I know the ins and outs of government, having worked in the Federal government and having interfaced with State and local governments, including Metropolitan Planning Organizations (e.g. Houston-Galveston Area Council) that control much of the Federal and State funding that is distributed in our area. In addition, I am experienced in public transportation funding, having served for nearly 15 years in the US Department of Transportation.  These are both assets in terms of the issues that face The Woodlands.

8. What are your views on incorporation?

I am against it at this time.  This was no rush to incorporate for the sole purpose of avoiding annexation by Houston or Conroe until 2057.  Now there is even less of a rush because State law now allows us to vote as to whether or not we want to be annexed, should Houston or Conroe try to do so.  Furthermore, incorporation for the sake of avoiding annexation may not be the best reason.  Costs must be compared with benefits.  I see no reason to essentially arbitrarily increase our taxes to have the same services and amenities.  I am for keeping our taxes steady or decreasing them while maintaining services and amenities or increasing them, if at all possible.  So, there is no need to have a vote on incorporation in 2020 based on the facts available today6.

9. If elected, what would your top 3 priorities as a Township Board of Director? How would you work to impact/shape the future of The Woodlands?

Short term, my top three priorities would be to avoid incorporation, address pro9jected deficits by zero-based budgeting, and address flooding concerns. 

Long term, my concerns are different, if we’re only talking about three priorities: 1) preparing a comprehensive transportation plan that addresses mobility, congestion, and the environment; 2)addressing our future fresh water needs, and promoting a more diverse and inclusive community.

10. Would you like to share any other words or a message to The Woodlands community?

The Woodlands is one of the most beautiful communities in the nation, and we need to ensure that it stays that way.  If elected I promise to do my best to achieve that goal, while being aware that no one wants to pay more in taxes.  At least I don’t.  That said, we need to think long term and shouldn’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.   If we find ourselves unable to avoid a significant expense, such as may present itself in the way of water infrastructure, then we may have to look at cutting services we like that may be superfluous. 

Learn more at


The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Advocacy Council hosted a candidate forum for the 2019 race on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 from 4-6 p.m. at the Chamber’s Lakeshore Boardroom, located at 9320 Lakeside Blvd. in The Woodlands. 

Three at-large positions on The Woodlands Township Board of Directors will be elected in the November 5, 2019 election, designated as positions 5, 6 and 7. 

Watch the video of the forum on the Hello Woodlands YouTube Channel below:

Please visit the November Election section on the Township’s website for additional information at

Please note that Hello Woodlands is an unbiased, nonpartisan news source that does not support only one party or candidate. We do not accept or receive advertising or funding from any candidate, party or group. We believe in providing the community with educational information, credible facts, thoroughly researched topics and articles, and to be a voice for ALL members in our community.