In the Sixth installment of the 2015 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Amanda Edwards, candidate for Houston City Council, At-Large Position 4.
Please note: Responses are 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 may be considered during the endorsement process.
TL: What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?
AE: Amanda Edwards
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
AE: This is my first campaign for elected office.
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
AE: I believe that government is important because it affects every member of society in some way. Municipal government is especially important because of its effect on our day-to-day lives. Who is elected President, Governor, etc., is, of course important, but it is local government that paves the streets, protects our neighborhoods, collects garbage and treats our water. It is critical that we have good stewards of the public trust in government to ensure these core services are delivered and that the City is properly managed.
TL: If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.
AE: Houston has many needs, including improving our infrastructure and transportation systems, protecting public safety, increasing broad-based economic development and improving our quality of life. All of those needs are affected by the City’s financial health. Our growing population and need for services are on a collision course with increasingly limited resources, due to increased fixed costs and declining revenue. We must bring all stakeholders together to improve the City’s fiscal situation, so residents’ needs can be met today, and for the long term. We must also focus on how to manage the 100,000+ people who are moving into our City annually by addressing our infrastructure and transit needs.
TL: After decades of deferred maintenance and neglect, Houston’s infrastructure is in a critical state of disrepair. Ask any driver, cyclist or pedestrian, and they can readily tell you that city streets and sidewalks are crumbling… some to the extent that they pose significant danger to those that would traverse them. The Parker Administration has attempted to address the problem by the voter-approved ReBuild Houston program. Knowing that the next Mayor has no choice but to invest in city infrastructure, do you support the continuation of ReBuild Houston? If yes, please explain why. If no, please explain how you would address our copious infrastructure needs differently.
AE: Yes. There have certainly been challenges with the rollout of Rebuild Houston, including a two-year delay before actual projects began (funds were initially used for debt service reduction), questionable prioritization of projects, and difficulty in completing projects timely and on budget. Despite those challenges, there is no denying the need for a dedicated funding stream for critical infrastructure work, particularly in light of the City’s overall budgetary difficulties. Rebuild Houston should be improved and continue. I would focus on improving transparency and efficiency with how Public Works implements the Rebuild Houston program.
TL: At present the city of Houston has one of the strongest forms of “strong-Mayor governance” in the state of Texas, to the point that the Mayor alone decides what business comes before City Council. If elected, would you support an amendment to the City Charter that would allow any coalition of 6 Council Members to place items on the Council Agenda without prior approval from the Mayor? Whether yes or no, please explain your answer.
AE: I generally support the idea, though I would need specific information on any proposal before committing to vote for it. It seems as though such a measure may be a vehicle for empowering council members to take more ownership of their leadership role in the City.
TL: If elected, would you support and seek to continue the current administration’s Complete Streets policy, which establishes that any new or significant re-build of city streets will work to prioritize and incorporate safe access for all road users, including pedestrians, persons with disabilities and cyclists?
AE: Yes. I live in Midtown and have seen firsthand the benefits of Complete Streets. It is critical that we improve and enhance our transit options for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists alike in order to better manage the continued growth of our City.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
AE: Houston faces critical challenges and key opportunities, and I am running to be part of long-term solutions that move all our city forward. I am the best candidate for this office because I have the vision, skills and passion to truly effect change for the long-term. As a municipal finance lawyer, I am well qualified to help tackle the City’s fiscal challenges. I have a long history of civic and non-profit involvement that has equipped me with a deep understanding of community based challenges (but also solutions). My work with organizations like the Houston Area Urban League and Project Row Houses reflects my passion for community work. Finally,, I plan to help City Council develop a vision and effectuate policy that will enable Houston to be an inclusive, first-class world City.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
AE: My free time is sparse in light of my work and the campaign. However, I do enjoy staying fit by exercising. I am also an urban gardener and enjoy traveling.
Thanks to Ms. Edwards for the responses.
Election Day 2015 is Tuesday November 3rd, and Early Voting runs from October 19th through October 30th. Check out this year’s Harris County Early Voting information for locations and times.