In the Twelfth installment of the 2013 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Hon. Ellen Cohen, incumbent Houston City Council Member for District C. She is running for reelection.
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?
EC: Ellen Cohen
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
EC: I previously represented HD 134, including Meyerland, Bellaire and the Rice U areas, in the State Legislature from 2007-2010. I’ve represented City Council District C, which overlaps with many areas in HD 134, since January 2012.
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
EC: Government is a place where everyone can come together to solve our communities’ problems. Everyone should have a voice and a seat at the table so we can make progress as a group instead of going it alone.
TL: If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.
EC: Public Safety is always my first priority and to that end I’ve been working to come up with innovative solutions to deter crime. Currently, I’m working to install security cameras in Fourth Ward. Once this is complete, I intend to look at other areas which might benefit from this. Additionally, parking remains a major concern in District C communities. Now that the Washington Ave. Parking Benefit District is underway, I will begin conducting stakeholder meetings in other parts of the district so that we might come up with solutions to address unique concerns in those neighborhoods. Additionally, I want to pursue a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance in the next two years.
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.
EC: I absolutely support a comprehensive non-discrimination measure a consider it to be a major civil rights priority. Demonstrating community support and dispelling misconceptions will be critical in getting such a measure passed.
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?
EC: Police brutality must not be tolerated. Even one rouge officer is one too many. When such incidents come to light we must act swiftly and transparently in order to ensure the matter is handled appropriately. Education and training play a vital role in preventing these instances, and in-vehicle cameras are a critical part of transparency and citizen protection.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
EC: Over the past six years I have proven myself as a problem-solver both in the State House and on Council. I believe that solving our communities’ problems is the first job of an elected official, and I feel up to the job for another four years.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
EC: I like to work out, spend time with my family and socialize with my friends. I also love enjoying the many beautiful parks around our city.
Thanks to Ms. Cohen for her participation.