As campaign finance reports come rolling in for the quarter, many are looking to see how well candidates are doing leading up to next year’s primary. However, with some local elections coming in November, PAC reports provide a good idea of who will emerge as key players this fall and exactly what their interests may be.

Mayor Sylvester Turner, who isn’t currently facing an immediate reelection bid, had about $1.6 million cash on hand on his report. Meanwhile, his loosely affiliated pro-bond PAC, Lift Up Houston, only had $17,000 on hand, but raised $35,000 during the period.

The $35,000 came from three donors: the Norton Rose Fulbright law firm and Mississippi-based companies IMS Logistics, Inc. and Integrated Management Services, Inc.

The latter two were the most interesting because Mississippi-based businesses don’t always show interest in Houston bonds.

Turns out that their D.B.A. (doing business as), or pseudonym, is IMS Engineers, a local engineering firm that has been awarded numerous contracts by the city, whose senior-level managers have been long-time donors to the mayor.

So far, officials within the organization have given about $40,000 to the mayor – according to filing reports – which has primarily come from its CEO John Calhoun and President Rod Hill.

According to the city’s Public Works and Engineering department, since 2016 IMS has been awarded contracts with total appropriated amounts of about $3.2 million although they have been doing business with the city far before Turner took office.

They are primary consultants on a project to enhance neighborhood sewer systems as well as a paving and drainage project on Gray and Taft streets. They’ve also been brought on a Kingwood project, paving and drainage enhancements to Kingwood drive and received a contract for engineering work in the Lawndale and Magnolia Park area.

As Lift Up Houston begins to ramp up efforts in its desire to win the approval of $1 billion in pension obligation bonds and $490 million in improvement bonds, it’ll be interesting to see what other developers, engineers, and consultants come out to support the movement in the hope of getting a larger piece of that tax-funded pie.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.