In the Tenth installment of the 2015 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire we hear from Hon. David Robinson, incumbent Houston City Council Member, At-Large Position 2. He is running for re-election.
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?
DR: David Robinson
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
DR: Incumbent, Council Member, At Large Position #2
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
DR: I have long been committed to improving the city through my involvement in civic affairs. I believe the day to day work of local government impacts our quality of life more than any other level of government.
TL: If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.
A. Safe Neighborhoods: We need to be sure that our communities are safe for everyone, by supporting the police, the fire department and our other first responders who assure that there is adequate and appropriate protection for all our citizens and neighborhoods.
B. Improving Communities: As Vice-Chair of Council’s Quality of Life Committee, I have been a passionate advocate for ensuring that Houston’s neighborhoods are livable for all citizens. Like all Houstonians, I am well aware that our streets and sidewalks need attention. I have fought for over $10 million in pothole and street repairs. A champion for multi-modal transportation options, I have overseen the creation and funding of Houston’s Bicycle Master Plan and has led the charge in the implementation of the Bayou Greenways initiative, creating over 150 miles of parks and trails around Houston’s Bayous. By linking major activity areas with employment centers the City is investing in higher quality lives, making our environment more beautiful, efficient and economically sound.
C. Wise Investments: We need to use our resources wisely and carefully, to get full value for every dollar that we spend on public things. The arteries, roadways, highways, bayou trails, and all public transportation are part of the system that we must develop in balance.
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.
DR: While I support the ReBuild program, we should consider including sidewalk condition as a factor in street “worst-first” calculations and include sidewalk repair and replacement as a component of the Rebuild Houston program. Also Council should expand the City’s existing efforts to offer a pre-negotiated contract for the repair of sidewalks to include a matching grant program for Civic Clubs and Super Neighborhoods to target the most needy streets and corridors for improvement.
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.
DR: I think this is an interesting idea which requires greater consideration. However, I am not sure this would be politically viable or advisable at the present time.
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?
DR: Having met with experts in Complete Streets throughout the country, there is much more Houston can do to facilitate the construction of multi-modal streets, with pedestrian, bicycling, and storefront benefits. The Public Works and Engineering Department needs to update its Infrastructure Design Manual to accommodate a diversity of street and sidewalk designs and construction materials, and then work to implement these standards as infrastructure development and re-development occurs.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
A. My work on Council and leadership with Super Neighborhoods and civic organizations has given me real insight into core municipal issues and into how the City of Houston departments function. With limited tools and by utilizing grass roots activism I’ve learned how negotiation with business and government interests can be harnessed to protect and promote a higher quality of life in our diverse community of neighborhoods.
B. As a Council-Member I have been at the vanguard of initiatives to promote the quality of life for all Houstonians. I am presently the Vice-Chair of the Quality of Life Committee which introduced the HERO to Council. I also serve as Council’s representative to the Houston First Board. These appointments have broadened my focus and experience to study a wide variety of issues in a truly city wide territory that has helped me to understand the breadth and complexity of the city and region.
C. My experience as a small businessman, has given me understanding as a council member on how to foster job creation and the impact that budget items, taxes, and fees have on the City’s ability to operate. My professional experience as an architect and planner has given me an advantage in imagining and creating a better place for this generation of Houstonians and for all of those to follow.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
DR: I like to spend my free time exploring Houston’s many rich and diverse neighborhoods. I also like to use the hike and bike trails along Buffalo Bayou, walk my dog, Luna, at Memorial Park, and play tennis at Cherryhurst Community Center.
Thanks to Mr. Robinson 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.