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News

Dec 22

Five Things to Know About Woodlands Board Chairman Gordy Bunch

By Matthew Tresaugue

Gordy Bunch

Gordy Bunch, 44, is the new chairman of The Woodlands Township’s governing board, a position akin to mayor. His colleagues selected him after November’s election produced a slow-things-down majority on the seven-member board.

Bunch’s enthusiastic supporters praise him for being aggressive and outspoken in defending the quality of life in the township. Critics call him rigid and uncompromising, attributes that work well for an activist but less so for a politician, they say.

Here are five things to know about Bunch:

Gordy isn’t short for Gordon

His full name is Richard Finley Bunch III. He was on the chubby side as a kid, so his mother nicknamed him “Gordito,” a Spanish term of endearment. Although he grew taller and leaner, “you can’t switch from Gordo to Flaco,” which means skinny, he said. So his mother started calling him Gordy.

He has a “degree in life”

At 19, Bunch drove from College Station to San Diego to join the U.S. Coast Guard. Over the next four years, he responded to hurricanes and floods, helped rescue ships in the Bering Sea and intercepted drug smugglers and human traffickers. He then returned to Texas and got a job selling insurance. He took classes at night for three years but didn’t see an academic degree as necessary for his career. In 2001, he started his own insurance agency, which has grown into one of the largest in the nation.

His house is on shaky ground

Bunch and his wife, Michelle, are among dozens of homeowners who filed suit against The Woodlands Development Co., accusing the developer of negligently constructing their houses on active fault lines. A Harris County judge ruled in favor of the company in February, but Bunch said the couple is appealing. Meanwhile, they are building a new home about a mile away.

Politics run in the family

Michelle Bunch’s uncle was the Montgomery County judge in the 1970s and her father, Fred Thornberry, ran unsuccessfully for Texas agriculture commissioner and for Congress. A quadriplegic since crashing his car in 2009, Thornberry is living with the Bunch family. He gave a pep talk to his son-in-law on the day Gordy announced his opposition to the county’s $350 million bond measure for new and improved roads. “Your job is to represent the people who live within the boundaries of your office,” he told Bunch. “If you do that, you’re doing it right.”

The president-elect is a “very nice guy”

In 2015, shortly before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president, Bunch paid $25,000 to share a table with him at a fund-raiser for the Texas Patriots PAC, a local tea party group. Bunch said Trump was approachable, intelligent and observant, noting improvements The Woodlands Country Club could make. When Trump returned to the township for a campaign rally months later, he autographed the podium placard for Bunch. The sign is going into the flag room of Bunch’s new house.

Matthew Tresaugue

Environment Reporter, Houston Chronicle

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