In the Seventh installment of the 2013 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from James S. Horwitz, candidate for Houston City Council At Large Position 5.
Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.
TL: What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?
JH: James S. Horwitz
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
JH: I have never held, or run for, public office before.
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
JH: In today’s time, there is an often-repeated metaphor for the role government should play. Some people believe government should stay out of most issues, whereas many others believe the government should be a key player in most issues. Disagreeing with both of these premises, I believe that government should be a referee in our society. The government should be an arbiter of disputes in our society, as well as the provider of certain invaluable services. In the case of the City of Houston, this includes our general welfare, utilities and protection.
TL: If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.
JH: My top priority is to listen to my constituents, hear their concerns, and try if reasonable to help them. For example, recently, I took my son up to Boston as he continues his collegiate education. While on the plane, I struck up a conversation with the flight attendant—who is based in Houston. She told me that FAA regulations required her to occupy the gateway between the terminal and the plane for hours at a time, sometimes in the grueling heat. The City of Houston controls the air-conditioning in the gateway. They could turn it on for the benefit of the staff required to be in there. Just listening to this Houstonian has brought this issue —adding fans and air conditioning to airport gateways— to my attention, and it is one I will argue to be implemented. I am sure there are countless other issues that Houstonians have that I can learn about. In addition, strengthening public transportation, developing an comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT people as well as expanding recycling service to all corners of the city are major concerns of mine.
TL: With the exception of city government and some other select businesses, Houstonians can still be fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender because we do not have a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for general employment. This lags behind other Texas cities such as Dallas, Austin, and Ft. Worth. Do you support a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for the city of Houston? If not, please explain why. If so, please explain how you would work to pass such a measure.
JH: I strongly support a non-discrimination ordinance, domestic partnership agreements and same-sex marriage (including a symbolic resolution by the City Council supporting it). Recently, Mayor Parker announced her intention to make this issue a priority for her possible third term. If elected, I will work closely with the Mayor to pass this ordinance out of the City Council, as well as strongly support a charter amendment to achieve this action.
TL: There have been an alarming number of complaints filed against officers in the Houston Police Department, accused of unwarranted police brutality towards citizens. A disproportionate amount of this violence occurs in minority communities, and in the vast majority of these cases, officers have gone unpunished. As a result, these incidents cause a cycle of mistrust between Houstonians and the very officers sworn to protect them. What can you do to increase oversight of the Houston Police Department, and help ensure that these incidents do not continue?
JH: I would work closely with the Houston Police Department to help the department conduct internal investigations of its officers. Unfortunately, these incidents have been going on since I moved to Houston in my teens in the 1960s. At that time, racist and corrupt police officers generally got a free pass from the City Government and Herman Short, the Chief of Police. However, today, I would like to think the situation has improved. I do believe that Mayor Parker and HPD Chief McClelland have been doing great work to punish brutality and oppression from HPD officers. I am reminded most vividly of the case of Andrew Bloomberg, a HPD officer recently acquitted of the videotaped senseless beating of a minor. After the verdict, both Parker and McClelland stood firm in ensuring Bloomberg would never again have a job with the Houston Police Department. Still, there are issues we must deal with to stop these miscarriages of justice.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
JH: Many people may agree with my positions more than any other candidate. For example, I am the only candidate in this race who, in a recent election dialogue of the League of Women Voters, unequivocally supported a non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT people. I am the only candidate to go on-record supporting the pending Wage Theft ordinance in the City Council. There are countless other issues such as this one, where I stand alone in my position. While the other candidates in this election certainly have many honorable personal characteristics, I believe I have distinguished myself from them on the issues. If you agree with me on the many issues I have discussed on my website, “horwitz4houston.com,” then I believe I am the ideal candidate for you to support.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
JH: I have a big family, and thoroughly enjoy spending as much time with them as I able to do so. I was extremely lucky, many years ago, not only to marry my amazing wife, Deborah —who raised our two sons, Geoffrey and Noah, with me— but to marry into her great family.
Thanks to Mr. Horwitz for his participation.