Candidates who run on nothing will have nothing to stand on to govern if they are elected
This year’s city elections are around the corner and this is the time for all candidates to reveal themselves. They should not afraid to let us know who they are. I have always maintained that those who run on nothing will have nothing to stand on to govern if they are elected.
This is one of my series of articles on the upcoming Houston City Elections. The aim is to share knowledge and thoughts with both the candidates and voters regarding crucial issues and interests.
A candidate for City Controller or City Council cannot be afraid to tell us -The voters what they plan to do to help Houstonians who were hurt by Harvey. It has been two years and all the people, in our City, who were impacted by Harvey have still not been helped. That is a failure to focus and prioritize.
Helping our neighbors recover from Harvey is a moral issue. Houston Strong must be more than just a slogan. What the people did during the storm must be the baseline, not the high-water mark, compared to what the city, state and county must do.
Which at-large council candidate will make helping Houstonians recover from Harvey their top priority?
Which candidates will make paying all city employees fairly their priority? There is no “city services” without city employees-municipal, police and fire.
Modernizing City Government
Which candidates are going to make modernizing city government their priority? Which candidates have the heart, stamina and courage to review all city programs and policies and tell us which are obsolete and are no longer needed, which need to be updated and modernized and what new policies and programs are necessary for the new needs of Houstonians now (and in the years ahead) as the emerging new economy impacts and undermines the City’s old economy revenue streams?
Finance & Budgeting
Which candidate or candidates are going to focus on becoming experts on city finances and the city budget so they can protect the taxpayers interest regardless of whether or not the City Controller is utilizing the authority granted to them under the City Charter to protect city taxpayers and ensure fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability at City Hall.
It’s clear that there needs to be another set of fiscal checks and balances at City Hall when it comes to contracts awarded without Council approval, airport expenditures, affordable housing funds, Harvey Recovery Funding, ReBuild Houston drainage fee expenditures, water and sewer funding and managing the city debt (General Fund and Enterprise Funds including Pension Bonds, Houston First and the Tax Reinvestment Zones (TIRZs) all across the city).
TIRZs and Special Districts’ funds are also taxpayers money that is supposed to be used to help improve Houston and not just to award contracts. Which candidate is prepared to take on this oversight responsibility? This will take political courage and fearless confidence as well as a lot of studying and hard work.
Transportation & Infrastructure
Which candidates are going to focus on transportation and infrastructure? We need more than just potholes fixed. We need streets rebuilt, transportation construction better coordinated and we need a Metro champion on Council to speak up and speak out for those in our City (and region) who need public transportation.
Metro does not exist to simply help reduce congestion. Metro exists because it is a life line for those, in our community, who don’t have a vehicle to connect them to jobs, healthcare and quality, affordable food for themselves and their families.
Metro is a quality of life institution and infrastructure.
We need Metro Next (and beyond) so that TxDOT can stop destroying Houston neighborhoods to build highways to the suburbs that make both air quality and flooding worse in city neighborhoods – an even bigger threat to the public’s health, safety and welfare.
We need Council Members who will stand up to TxDOT to protect the lives and property of Houstonians; homeowners, renters, the homeless and business owners and entrepreneurs.
Houston is a great city but to be an even greater world class city, our region must have regional rail and be connected to the rest of the state by rail as well as by roads and airports.
It’s time for the newly elected members of Congress from the Houston area to step up and help deliver the funding we need for regional commuter, light and high-speed rail.
Housing, Gentrification & Revitalization
Which candidates will lead the way on addressing homelessness, hunger and poverty in our City? Which candidates will become experts on housing and community development such that they can lead the effort on the issue of gentrification and putting together the coalitions and public/private/non-profit partnerships needed to build at least 25,000 single family affordable homes a year for the next four years and beyond? Houston needs more housing for working class Houstonians inside the 610 Loop. We also need to better utilize federal funds and the Land Assembly Redevelopment Authority (LARA) and affordable housing funds from our TIRZs to help the working class and low-income residents of our historic neighborhoods remain in their homes.
We not only have to build more new housing in our City, we also have to help residential homeowners repair and fix up their older homes and show them how they can pass it from one generation to the next as a source of generational wealth. Doing this would help reduce the number of dangerous buildings and weeded lots in our neighborhoods and reduce the city’s expenses for mowing lots and boarding up dangerous buildings.
Quality of Life
Finally, who will be the newest champion of public safety, green spaces and quality of life on Council?
Building a great city includes but is much bigger than just a great economy and jobs. Those are the starting points and building blocks. A truly smart city is more than just technology; its safety, accountability of police officers, trees and green spaces, bike lanes, a comprehensive public transportation system, quality of life, a living prevailing wage, great public schools, modern infrastructure, environmental justice, resiliency, heart, sustainability and broadly inclusive and shared prosperity.
Who Are You?
Candidates, who are you? Don’t be afraid to let us know. If you run on nothing, you will have nothing to stand on to govern if you are elected.
Thank you and God Bless Houston. For constructive dialogue, you may contact me directly >>>
Hon. Robinson is the former Chairman, City of Houston Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee; Former Vice Chairman, Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) and Associate Professor of Public Administration, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University.