In the Fifteenth installment of the 2015 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire we hear from Doug Peterson, candidate for Houston City Council, At-Large Position 3.
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?
DP: Doug Peterson
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
DP: This is my first campaign for elected public office after serving many political and environmental leadership positions.
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
DP: Government is the main promoter of important public values, such as justice, that are essential to a good society. Without a strong public sector, life would be less just, less free, more unequal, and more insecure. Government is often the only institution that can make these kinds of core political values a reality. Finally, government is the great equalizer, facilitator and supporter for the diverse peoples that form it and guide it.
TL: If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.
DP: A key provision of my platform is to ensure equality for all people and equity across all Houston communities. Speaking to diverse communities across the city of Houston, it becomes quite apparent that some communities receive abundantly greater investment than others. As a city council member, I will not sit silently and watch these types of measures take place. I will work with the mayor’s office and communities across the city to ensure better distribution of resources. If HERO fails at the polls, it should become a major initiative to modify and reconsider it in order to get it approved. Additionally, I aim to advance the city’s economic development function to facilitate development of the 16th different economic communities across Houston. I will work with NASA and other technical organizations to share technologies and build technical communities that can make Houston a technology hub equal to Silicon Valley. Ultimately, I’m running as a progressive, with support from a variety of membership organizations focused on winning this election to take this seat away from a classic tea party conservative, and replace it with a progressive vote to advance important issues and initiatives.
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.
DP: Rebuild is a good concept but has fallen short on implementation. I, like many residents of our great city, voted in favor of Rebuild Houston. I believed that the concept was ahead of its time and would accomplish more in a significantly less amount of time. The ReBuild Houston business model emphasizes Pay‐As‐You‐Go Funding. In this manner, no new debt is incurred and cash payment means there are no more interest payments on new projects. As a result, the City gets twice the product for the same dollars. This moves us away from decades of neglect and the failed patch and repair mindset that has plagued our city. Since its implementation, this initiative has failed in a number of ways and I plan to set it on the right track. Vastly improved transparency and publicized criteria for prioritizing project is necessary to help city communities understand the the schedule. It is essential to not stop ReBuild Houston, just fix it, because its work is essential to improved transportation AND sorely needed flood control.
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.
DP: Yes. While I believe that our city will fare better if the distribution of power is more equally spread and I believe that a democracy works best when more people are included in the decision making process, I do have some concerns about the ability of the city council to collaborate well enough to move forward on key projects. A simple majority of six council members should help the council better find agreement to move forward. In my opinion, six is a fair figure that should help to council not become stuck with a variety opinions without a working majority.
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?
DP: Yes, absolutely. The Complete Streets and Transportation Plan is meant to provide safe, accessible and convenient use of streets by all users including motorists, public transit riders, pedestrians, people of all abilities and bicyclists. The new policy, detailed in a draft executive order from the mayor, will be achieved over time as improvements to existing roadways and redevelopment occur. The Complete Streets and Transportation Plan recognizes that all streets are different. The function of the road, current and projected adjacent land use and travel demands, availability of right-of-way, community input and the level of vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic must all be considered in decisions regarding enhancements. The ultimate goal, where appropriate, is walkable and bike-friendly neighborhoods with amenities such as trees and landscaping, public art and street furniture
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
DP: I believe that anyone who runs for office cares a great deal about our city. However, what makes you uniquely the best candidate for this is the combination of professional experience combined with community activism. I am a progressive candidate that understands the issues facing our city moving forward, and I will be a very strong voice of the people, working for all Houstonians, not just a few who make major contributions and/or are major business leaders with agendas contrary to those that support lower and middle class citizens.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
DP: I am a husband and proud father of three daughters, two have graduated from college and worked/ing with Teach for America, and a third in her final year as political science major at Emory University. When I’m not spending time with them, I enjoy outdoor activities including running and cycling, volunteer work for environmental and green space, reading and playing guitar.
Thanks to Mr. Peterson 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.