Tag Archives: Adrian Garcia

TLCQ 2015: Endorsement for Mayor of Houston

The 2015 Houston Mayor’s race is marked by a strong and diverse list of candidates.  At its outset, this close contest may be of some frustration to voters, but ultimately this is a good problem to have. Former Sheriff Adrian Garcia brings a record of executive experience and a positive outlook, but has remained a lackluster on charting new solutions to the city’s issues.  Former Congressman Chris Bell has demonstrated strong progressive values on the campaign trail, but little insight of how to encourage and inspire Houstonians which do not share his views.  Council Member Stephen Costello has proven himself invaluable during the Parker Administration, but also has not left the strongest impression for how he would advance the pension negotiations much further than the current status quo.  Bill King‘s view as both former elected official and media observer has been a welcomed perspective, but his fickle positioning on contemporary issues like HERO and ReBuild Houston reveal that he is behind the times to lead Houston forward.

In another time, it’s easy to see why any of the above candidates could execute the job of Mayor.  But for this time and the contemporary issues that Houston faces, one candidate seems best equipped to lead Houston’s municipal government in the next era.  That candidate is Sylvester Turner.

Mayor Annise Parker’s time in office has been truly extraordinary.  She led the city through the uncertain times of economic crisis, helped to basically re-write Houston’s perception within the rest of the country, and set her sights on long-term solutions with little regard to potential political risks.  Her pragmatic, details-oriented approach has served the city well, and many of the seeds planted during her tenure will bear fruit for years to come.

After such intense focus on details, it’s time for Houstonians to broaden our vision, and seek the “big idea” approach once again.  With challenges like the pension battle and growing economic disparities, Turner is well-suited to lead the city through its next phase.  His years in Austin have (hopefully) given him the right levers to solve many budgetary issues where Parker could not.  His background, growing up in Acres Homes and eventually graduating from the University of Houston and Harvard Law School, fosters the ability for Turner to build the right coalitions and keep the city moving in a positive direction.

The one quality which Turner has brought to the table that other candidates can’t quite match??  Big ideas.  Everyone knows that employment for under-served communities and a crumbling infrastructure are two the areas largest hurdles.  But only Turner sees the possibilities that could be achieved if we bring together our city’s under-employed workforce and train them to fix our streets while they gain valuable skills.  This is his Road to the Future initiative, and it’s the type of thinking that Houstonians need right now.

The pick for Mayor of Houston is Sylvester Turner.

 

 

TLCQ 2015 Responses

For information purposes only, here are all of the TLCQ 2015 Respondents.  Hopefully this will serve to increase the available information for Houstonians as we head into Early Voting next week.

Endorsements soon to follow.

Houston Mayor

 

Houston City Council

 

At Large Position 1

At Large Position 2

At Large Position 3

At Large Position 4

At Large Position 5

 

District B

District C

District G

District H

 

If you live in the city of Houston, this election matters.  Houston is a growing city that will face many challenges over the coming decades.  It is the next Mayor and City Council which will decide how we handle them.  Get informed, and V-O-T-E!!

 

 

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TLCQ 2015: Adrian Garcia

In the Sixteenth installment of the 2015 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire we hear from Hon. Adrian Garcia former Harris County Sheriff and candidate for Mayor of Houston.

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?

AG:  Adrian Garcia

 

TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

AG:  Houston City Council; Harris County Sheriff

 

TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

AG:  I am living proof of the promise of Houston, where if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get anywhere you are bold enough to dream. My career has taught me the importance of listening to the needs of all communities and how we can make our City government work efficiently to serve Houstonians with a great quality of life today, while building our infrastructure for tomorrow. Government is important to ensure that all Houstonians have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. This city has been very good to me, and I want to make sure it remains as the city of opportunity to the next generation of Houstonians. I am uniquely qualified and passionate to be the next great mayor of this great city.

 

TL:  If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.

AG:  Our most significant challenge is our overall city finances. We have been operating a structurally unbalanced system for too long. The biggest driver of this issue is our unpaid pension obligations. While I strongly believe that we must keep our promises to current retirees and employees so that they know their retirement is secure, I believe we need to take a holistic look at all of the city finances, including pensions, to find an efficient Houston solution going forward. Some people approach the pensions as three silos outside of the city’s finances, but I feel that such an approach misses the opportunity to redefine how our pension obligations play a role in our overall city finances. Local control, reduction of the COLA adjustment, a realistic rate of return, review of the DROP and balancing representation on the pension boards will all be explored in a plan for reform.

My whole career has been committed to public safety, and, as an HPOPS retiree, I have personal skin in the game when it comes to any pension negotiations. I am committed to bringing all parties to the table to craft a local solution that allows for the City to keep its promises to public employees while still maintaining critical infrastructure and the hiring of the public safety personnel we need to keep Houston safe.

 

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.   

AG:  I believe the ReBuild Houston program is an important part of our city’s approach to addressing our street and drainage infrastructure issues. It is a good program that has been poorly managed. I believe there is unnecessary confusion among stakeholders and the public regarding the program. If elected, I would implement a number of reforms including, but not limited to:

● More transparency in how the money is being used

● More frequent updates on the financials of the program

● Allow for more flexibility in our CIP/needs-based evaluation process for projects

● Incorporate regional detention into the program if possible

● Public meetings and access for the project decision meetings process so staff can justify the “worst first” approach findings that the ordinance requires.

Additionally, I believe there are efficiencies to be gained and savings to be had in a comprehensive review of the Public Works & Engineering (PWE) department. Savings could then be reprogrammed into more projects that are sorely needed across the city.

 

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.

AG:  I am someone who strongly believes in a participatory system. The City of Houston and its departments provide needed services for our residents, and the residents should therefore have a voice. If there is a more effective and efficient way to make this happen than the current structure than I will be happy to consider it. I am open to hearing and working on suggestions for how we can make processes work better, so that the voices of our all residents can be heard in City Council.

 

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?

AG:  I am strong supporter of “Complete Streets” policy. As we make continued investments in multi-modal transportation, we must also effectively market and promote the use of those investments we have already made. I am confident that once an individual uses a safe and convenient alternative means of transportation, they will use it again. For those that already use alternative forms of transportation, we must ensure that we are able to keep them safe by building an infrastructure that embraces vision zero and by educating the public about operating along “complete streets,” parks and trails.

 

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

AG:  As the only native-born American in my family, and as a lifelong Houstonian, I am asking for the privilege of becoming the mayor of my great hometown. This city has been very good to me, and I want to make sure it remains as the city of opportunity to the next generation of Houstonians. I believe I am uniquely qualified to lead the City of Houston because I’m the only candidate in this race with executive experience. I lead, managed, and reformed a major organization, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, into savings of over $200 million dollars while keeping the streets of America’s 3rd -largest county safe. Throughout my entire tenure at the HCSO, I promoted diversity in hiring and a professional environment of mutual respect and trust, so that the Sheriff’s Department could best protect all residents in the most diverse and culturally rich county in America.

My nearly 35 years in public service, starting as a patrol officer with the Houston Police Department, taught me a great deal about our government. From the front seat of a patrol car, you get a first-hand look at where our City is serving its residents and where it is failing to provide the services it should. My efforts to decrease gang involvement, a major national issue at that time, prompted Mayor Bob Lanier to appoint me to the Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office in 1994, and within 5 years I was promoted to be the director of the program. Our efforts were tremendously successful in decreasing the gang violence plaguing Houston neighborhoods through employing creative community policing initiatives, which were centered on building trusting relationships between the patrolling officers and the community.

I then took the skills that I learned as a police officer and directed them towards addressing the broader needs of our community by being elected to a seat on the Houston City Council, where I served three terms. Serving on the Council as Bill White’s Mayor Pro tem, I helped develop and pass initiatives expanding senior homestead exemptions and making homeownership more affordable because experience had taught me that neighborhoods are stronger when people can own their own homes. I had also learned from my experience as an officer that more crime could be prevented with a greater focus on timely data collection and analysis. This led me to work on creating HPD’s Real Time Crime Center, which produced immediate results in lowering crime rates. While I was an ardent supporter of METRO lightrail expansion as a councilmember, I listened carefully to the concerns of many residents about the new rail lines. Hearing concerns about the rail construction impact on longtime area businesses, I created the city’s Construction Mitigation Program to extend low interest loans to existing micro businesses who needed a little help to get through the disruptive construction period of a major infrastructure project. Throughout my tenure on City Council, I worked tirelessly and collaboratively to tackle major issues like crime prevention while also supporting the kinds of smart infrastructure and economic development initiatives that helped make Houston even greater.

Voters then awarded me the honor of leading a Sheriff’s Office of almost 5,000 personnel and a budget of roughly $500 million, and in dire need of new leadership and reform. When I arrived on my first day, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office was $60 million over- budget, and the county jail so overcrowded that taxpayers were paying over $10 million annually to house prisoners in Louisiana. By demonstrating leadership and establishing reforms aimed at progressive community policing, I was able to keep a lid on crime while delivering four straight fiscal years under-budget. I was also able to dramatically lower our jail population and stop sending prisoners out of state by developing programs and partnerships to make sure that our mentally-ill Houstonians began receiving the treatment they needed.

I am living proof of the promise of Houston, where if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get anywhere you are bold enough to dream. My career has taught me the importance of listening to the needs of all communities and how we can make our City government work efficiently to serve Houstonians with a great quality of life today, while building our infrastructure for tomorrow.

 

TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

AG:  I really enjoy being in the community and get immense satisfaction from volunteering. When I’m not doing that you’ll find me with my family and likely running or biking through our beautiful parks and bayous.

 

Thanks to Sheriff Garcia 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.

 

Adrian Garcia

Texoblogosphere: Week of August 24th

The Texas Progressive Alliance liked it better when politicians wanted to kiss babies and not deport them as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff took a closer look at who votes in City of Houston elections.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos notes that when the GOP opened its house to dog whistles it ushered in the wolves. The GOP Deserves Its Monster.

Fresh off his vacation, and as it approaches its centennial, SocraticGadfly casts a critical eye at what he describes as the decline and fall of the National Park Service.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that Donald Trump is exposing the world to the racism consuming the GOP along with its authoritarian, 2nd amendment mindset.

It was all Houston mayoral elections all last week for PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, who attended a forum in his back yard, smelled some oligarchy in the HGLBT Caucus endorsement, covered the two adverse developments for the HERO, and witnessed Chris Bell’s smackdown of Adrian Garcia.

Sometimes it takes great distress to reveal greatness of leadership. As the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches on August 29th, Texas Leftist reflects on the extraordinary role Houston played in the storm’s aftermath and recovery.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The Texas GOP’s latest cruel move, When They Show You Who They Are Believe Them.

With Bernie Sanders running strongly for 2016, Neil at All People Have Value wrote that polling data reports more and more Americans are open to Socialism. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Paradise in Hell previews the fried delicacies that await us at this year’s State Fair of Texas.

The Lunch Tray confirms that Americans do indeed want kids to eat healthier food at school.

Texas Watch tells you what’s really driving the cost of your car insurance bill.

Alexa Garcia-Ditta takes you on a tour of San Antonio’s new HB2-compliant abortion facility.

Tamara Tabo explains why you haven’t heard more about all those bikers who were arrested in Waco in May.

The Makeshift Academic reports that Arkansas has fully embraced Medicaid expansion.

Pamela Coloff awards the title of Worst Lawyer in Texas to disgraced and now disbarred former prosecutor Charles Sebesta.

 

Happy Back to School week for much of Texas, including the University of Houston.  GO COOGS!!

UH Seal

Texoblogosphere: Week of June 29th

The Texas Progressive Alliance is still celebrating love’s victory as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff discusses the next steps for equality advocates.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos shares personal stories about the heartbreaking impact of overt racism. And though he has come to hate prejudice and racism with a white hot passion, Lightseeker said the time has finally arrived for sharing the truth, change and healing. Time for Truth, Change and Healing is NOW.

Lost in the earth-shaking Supreme Court developments last week was a report from a former Harris County deputy sheriff that Adrian Garcia did not tell the truth when he said he did not know about the mentally ill jail inmate in a littered, feces-filled cell over a year ago. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs says it’s a headache for the Houston mayoral contender, but shouldn’t damage his prospects… unless things take a turn for the worse.

Socratic Gadfly notes that new polling from Yale shows that people concerned about global warming are NOT a minority, even in a red state like Texas, even to the point of supporting a carbon tax, and suggests there are political activism and outreach lessons to be learned.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. No surprise in SCOTUS ruling on Obamacare, ACA, aka, Obamacare Subsidies Upheld By SCOTUS.

Neil at All People Have Value said that the 14th Amendment–cited this week by the Supreme Court to allow gay marriage–is the product of blood and sacrifice. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Texas Leftist is still trying to recover from this weekend’s monumental Houston Pride celebration. Fair warning…What “turns up” must eventually come down..

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Scott Braddock adds up the success rate for getting bills passed for legislators who opposed Speaker Joe Straus.

Texas Watch responds to Rick Perry’s claims about his record on health care.

BEYONDBones explains why we should eat bugs. No, really.

Juanita Jean updates us on the activities of one of Dan Patricks’s citizen advisors.

The Lunch Tray says we all have a Sid Miller problem now.

The Texas Election Law Blog highlights a respected federal judge’s change of heart on voter ID.

Better Texas Blog evaluates the legislative session.

Paradise in Hell bids an un-fond farewell to the ideals of the Confederacy.

Lone Star Ma addresses some of the crazy objections that have been made to the SCOTUS same-sex marriage decision.

 

Today’s feature photo is the exterior of Bass Hall in Fort Worth, Texas, taken by L. Wayne Ashley.

Houston Mayoral Candidates Discuss The Arts

The first major forum in Houston’s 2015 campaign season may have been all about the Arts, but it was lacking in drama.

Candidates hoping to replace Houston Mayor Annise Parker tested the waters of election season on some previously untested issues for local politics.  Rebecca Elliott of the Houston Chronicle has the story…

Houston’s mayoral candidates were full of praise for the city’s arts scene Wednesday, when they appeared at a forum together for the first time, though most said they would not support raising taxes or allocating new city funds to support arts and culture.

The forum hosted by four city arts groups – Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Museum District, Theater District Houston and Miller Outdoor Theatre – featured seven of the candidates vying to replace term-limited Mayor Annise Parker and kicks off a series of similar interest-specific events leading up to November’s election.

The relatively conflict free event at the Asia Society Texas Center drew a standing room only crowd. It opened with statements from each of the candidates, who then went on to answer three arts and culture-related questions.

The first addressed the city’s recently implemented cap on arts funding from hotel occupancy tax revenues, about 19 percent of which are set aside to fund city arts organizations. Two years ago, City Council passed an ordinance capping the city’s arts and culture spending through this revenue stream, prompting criticism from some of the grantees.

Four of the seven candidates – former congressman and City Council member Chris Bell, former mayor of Kemah Bill King, businessman Marty McVey and state Rep. Sylvester Turner – said they do not support the cap. The other three – City Council member Stephen Costello, former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and 2013 mayoral runner-up Ben Hall – did not come out directly in favor of the limit but said they would want to further review it once in office.

The H.O.T. tax was a big topic of debate, though none of the candidates went into much detail about what it actually is.  For every hotel room night rented within the city of Houston, a percentage of taxes paid for the room go to support state and local arts, culture and tourism efforts.  Many in the arts community (especially those that rely on funds from the tax mechanism) feel that the maximum 19% of the tax revenue spent on Arts and Culture should be adjusted to a higher level.

Here’s a percentage breakdown of Houston’s Hotel Occupancy Tax (H.O.T.)

Another chief point of debate concerned current Mayor Annise Parker’s Arts and Culture Plan… an as yet undefined set of directives for how to foster growth of the city’s Arts community.  Given that the physical plan doesn’t exist yet, it’s no surprise that candidates couldn’t commit one way or the other.

But once an actual plan is put forth to Council, this is a question well worth revisiting with the Mayoral candidates, and those running for City Council.

All in all, there wasn’t much firm commitment in this first forum for the candidates.  They discussed how much the like art, and want to support it if elected.  But very few stark differences were realized on Wednesday night.  The only clear winner from Houston’s first ever Arts Forum was the Arts community itself.  Even if concrete solutions aren’t on the table just yet, at least the community knows that it has a voice in local government.   We know that if enough of us care about the future of the Arts in Houston, area politicians will have to pay attention.

The ‘runner-up’ for who won tonight’s forum?  All of the candidates.  They had a chance to test out their speaking skills in front of an attentive audience, while not having to approach more divisive campaign issues that surely lie ahead.

It will be nice to see how the discussion continues, and what ideas are realized from the coming Cultural Plan.

Oh and 1 added bonus… we even got to discuss the forum (and other fun topics) on today’s Houston Matters show.  So be sure to check that out as well.