In the Eighth installment of the 2013 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Ben Mendez, candidate for Houston City Council, District I.
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?
BM: Ben Mendez, Candidate for City Council District I.
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
BM: I am not a current or former elected official.
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
BM: Government can be the great equalizer to serve as the voice of the people. Government addresses many concerns we cannot address as individuals. Government helps gather resources for the public good, and can help protect the rights of individuals, as well as communities.
TL: If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.
BM: My top priorities are affordable housing, updating infrastructure, and improving the quality of life in communities.
I intend to prioritize these issues, and bring funding to neighborhoods in the district that have been left behind, and work to implement green initiatives to reduce energy costs and help the environment.
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.
BM: I support a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for the City of Houston. I would work to pass it by reaching out to my fellow Council Members, as well as unions and community members to appeal to the underlying issues of justice and fairness inherent in such an ordinance.
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?
BM: The Houston Police Department should be held to a high standard in its dealings with the public. In addition to increasing training and reporting systems, I am open to creation of a citizen’s review board to weigh-in on such police incidents.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
BM: My qualifications/assets I feel earn great consideration are as follows:
Experience with City Government & Budget Experience As former City of Houston’s CIP Manager I developed and managed the construction dollars for the City of Houston’s 5-year Capital Improvement Plan and served as the point of contact for all departments in regards to the $1.4 billon spent on new construction and renovation of City facilities. In addition, I was hired by the Houston Independent School District to develop the district’s $1.2 billion 5-year Capital Improvement Plan for the construction of new schools.
Small Business Experience As the Founder and President of PMJ Project Management Group I offer more than 17 years of experience in the energy, architectural, engineering, and construction industries, with special expertise in managing, budgeting, and program/policy development.
Our company was recently honored at Harvard University by ICIC as the 41st fastest growing inner-city businesses in the nation, and ranked Number #1 in the State of Texas.
As the Chairman of Texas Association of Mexican-American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC) I have proven experience in promoting strategic to enhance small business growth in the Hispanic community.
Community Organizing Experience As Founder of NHPO, and a former Union steward for the Houston Federation of Teachers [HFT], I have the community relationships and grass-roots organizing experience to increase civic engagement in our communities.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
BM: When not on the Campaign Trail, I enjoy spending time with my wife and children. We are an active family, and even more so since my 1-year old recently learned to walk. I am always happy to get together with friends for fun, and to support charitable community efforts, such as National Hispanic Professional Organization – Leadership Institute, Tejano Center for Community Concerns, Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans, Talento Bilingue de Houston and many others. Of course I also enjoy our local sport teams and especially enjoy cheering on my alma mater University of Houston Cougars, and the Houston Texans.
Thanks to Mr. Mendez for his participation.