Here’s the Full List of Endorsements for the 2015 Houston Municipal Elections. The Hyperlinks take you to the full-length endorsement page. For more information on the candidates, check out the Questionnaire Responses, and be sure to also visit Off the Kuff’s 2015 Elections Page.
Houston City Council At-Large Races
Position 1: Tom McCasland
Position 2: David Robinson
Position 3: Doug Peterson
Position 4 Amanda Edwards
Position 5: Philippe Nassif
District A: Brenda Stardig
District B: Jerry Davis
District C: Ellen Cohen
District D: unopposed (Dwight Boykins)
District E: unopposed (Dave Martin)
District F: Richard Nguyen
District G: Greg Travis
District H: Roland Chavez
District I: Robert Gallegos
Distrcit J: Mike Laster
District K: unopposed (Larry Green)
Like Dallas, Austin, Ft. Worth, New Orleans, hundreds of other cities and 17 states across the county, all Houstonians deserve to live in a city that does not condone discrimination. Please vote yes to uphold the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Don’t believe the lies!!
Early Voting runs now until October 30th, and Election Day is November 4th.
In the Seventh installment of the 2015 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire we hear from Hon. Chris Oliver, current Houston Community College Trustee and candidate for Houston City Council, At-Large Position 1.
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?
CO: Chris Oliver
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
CO: For the past twenty years I have served as Houston Community College Trustee for District IX.
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
CO: I believe that government is vital because it was established to serve the people. I believe that efficient government, at its core – along with the non-profit and private sectors – can help empower our communities not just for today, but for tomorrow as well.
TL: If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.
CO: Once elected, my top priority will be to empower local communities across the City of Houston. I will look to accomplish this by focusing on developing Houston’s approach to workforce development that helps give citizens the skills needed to acquire the jobs of today and tomorrow.
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 Houstonprogram. 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.
CO: I support the purpose and application of ReBuild Houston in that it seeks to address our crumbling infrastructure issues through a “pay as you go” funding model. With the fiscal issues we currently face, I am not interested in the city accruing any more debt that it will be unable to pay down. While we don’t know what will ultimately happen with ReBuild Houston as it’s tied up in the courts, I think it is vital that the city does a better job of being transparent and educating the citizens of Houston on where their tax dollars are going.
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.
CO: I would support such an amendment because I think it is vital that the City of Houston considers the views of everyone in setting its course. That is, I think that our Democracy is built on the principle of power coming from the many, not from just one point of view or perspective. I believe that such an amendment will help ensure that the voices and concerns from citizens across the City of Houston are heard before the agenda is set.
TL: If elected, would you support and seek to continue the current administration’s Complete Streetspolicy, 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?
CO: I support keeping our city’s streets accessible and open for all road users, pedestrians, persons with disabilities, and cyclists. With that said, I think our City Streets program should focus on completing projects in full vs. making incremental improvements as its currently structured.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
CO: I believe that I am the best candidate for this office because I am the only person in the race who currently holds public office and has the crucial experience representing citizens in the City of Houston. I believe that this experience has best prepared me to hit the ground running for the citizens of Houston on day one as Houston City Council Member, At-Large Position 1.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
CO: When not on the campaign trail (or operating my own small business) I like to spend as much time as I can with my wife Valerie and our four-year-old son, Geovanny.
Though city finances remain far from certain thanks to a crushing revenue cap, Houston City Council chose to focus on more immediate needs in today’s meeting… their own elections. Here’s the main item via the Houston Chronicle…
Houston voters will decide whether elected city officials should serve two four-year terms rather than three two-year terms starting in 2016, potentially lengthening the terms of some current council members.
The City Council voted 12-5 Wednesday to place the item on the November ballot. Councilmen Richard Nguyen, Mike Laster, Steve Costello, Michael Kubosh and C.O. Bradford voted no.
The change, if passed, would take effect for officials elected this fall. Current freshman council members could pick up two four-year terms and those serving their second term would be permitted one four-year term. Elected officials who are already term-limited would not be affected by the change.
The council has generally supported lengthening terms, but there was debate about whether such a change should go into effect immediately or in 2020, when no current council members would benefit.
Credible arguments can be made on both sides of this issue. With longer terms and fewer elections, it is quite conceivable that Council could become less focused on politics and more effective at serving the people. It could also afford opportunities for increased cooperation with other levels of government like the State Legislature, County Commissioners’ Court and School District Board of Trustees.
On the other hand, a change to 4 year terms would also lessen the accountability Council Members have to voters. Elections may be burdensome and ridiculously expensive, but they are far more than just As Off the Kuff states in a recent post, this fact would’ve been a tough pill to swallow under the Mayor’s original proposal to have 4-year terms go in effect for 2020 (thus not affecting any current Council Members). But knowing that Houstonians will now vote for the possibility of some at City Hall to serve up to 10 years, this change seems a long shot for the November elections.
It’s a shame that Council did not consider other options, like proposing 4 year terms for the Mayor, City Controller or even At-Large Members. That way, we would conceivably get the benefits from both points.
So there you have it. Yet another major decision that will be put to voters this November.
In it’s 70-plus year history, the El Dorado Ballroom in Houston’s Third Ward has seen and heard some of the world’s most compelling artistry. In it’s heyday the venue played host to Musical greats like Arnett Cobb, Etta James and Ray Charles.
But last weekend, the historic ballroom was also the scene for an important meeting on Houston’s artistic future, as artists and administrators from across the region gathered there to discuss the City’s expansive new Cultural Plan.
Named the Houston Artist Town Hall, the gathering was organized and moderated by the Fresh Arts Coalition, whose Executive Director Jenni Rebecca Stephenson moderated the discussion. The Town Hall was not an official city event, but Minette Boesel from the Houston Cultural Affairs Office was on hand to hear the discussions.
Though the artists in attendance formed an immensely diverse crowd, they all shared at least two things in common– a dedication to the area’s arts scene and intimate knowledge of what could be improved. As Stephenson noted in her opening comments, the meeting was arranged so artists themselves would have a chance to provide input on the city’s Cultural Plan.
Among the group of almost 200 artists, some common themes seemed to emerge…
— Houston needs a more comprehensive jobs and funding database for arts projects.
— Betteraccess equity for the many diverse arts groups, and artists living outside of a select few neighborhoods.
— More transparency, less bureaucracy from municipal funding sources.
— Stronger professional connections between the artists community and corporate entities.
— City Council Members should form Artist advisory boards by district for more direct, consistent input.
Perennial issues like artist compensation and a lack of affordable housing were big players in the discussion as well.
On the whole, the event was quite productive, and gave voice to important issues that should be part of any Cultural Plan for the city. But whatever moves forward under the Parker administration at this point is far from a guarantee. Any goals that Mayor Parker sets for Houston’s artistic community will be honored, improved upon or destroyed by Houston’s next Mayor, City Controller and City Council. Which means that 2015 is an important time for Houston’s creative community to become engaged with this year’s elections. If citizens want the arts to be strong in Houston, they need to show those preferences with their voices and their votes this year.
Artists gather at the Houston Artist Town Hall, held May 2nd in the El Dorado Ballroom.
Houston summers can seem endless, but in reality, we’re marching through it quite fast. And nowhere is that calendar time more apparent than in the minds of our local municipal candidates. They see the hot days ticking away, and know that we’re under 4 or so months from the November elections, and 90 days from when the first votes are cast. In every corner of Houston, you’ll find candidates shaking hands, holding up signs, giving speeches, and doing all of the necessary activities local politics requires.
As Texas Leftist, I intend to cover much of the inner workings of Houston’s 2013 elections. But there’s one race I am pledged to stay out of on this blog, and that is Houston City Council, At- Large Position 3. The reason is because I am working for Candidate Jenifer Rene Pool, and I wanted to share why.
Pool’s background is in the Construction industry. Her father owned a company that built roads, water and sewer lines, and buildings throughout Houston and Southeast Texas. After working under his wing, she went on to work for other prominent Construction firms in the region, and now owns her own consulting business. She knows the city’s vast maze of permitting codes, and wants to help streamline and simplify that process for citizens.
Because of her background in the field, one of Jenifer’s primary concerns is improving Houston’s infrastructure. Everything that is done in a modern city depends on its infrastructure. You can’t get to your job without good roads to drive, walk or bike on, and neither can anyone else. Houston’s very prosperity depends on the success and maintenance of our infrastructure. But some roads have fallen into such disrepair, that they end up costing Houstonians millions of extra dollars in vehicle repair. And roads are just the beginning… some sidewalks across the city haven’t been repaired in decades. Many of those same areas are where poor citizens, Seniors and other non-drivers live. And those are the people that depend on safe, passable sidewalks the most. Jenifer wants to change this, and have Houston make infrastructure a real priority again.
“We passed an issue where the city of Houston could raise money for infrastructure repairs. That’s wonderful… I believe in paying ‘as you go’, and the bond has given us an effort to do that. But it comes down to a point of priority. Where I visit and talk to people, the repairs are not there. Their streets and sidewalks have not been repaired in 30 years, leaving Seniors having to walk in the streets. Last year, 5 Seniors were hit by cars because their only means of transportation, the sidewalks, were in complete disrepair. If we’re going to build a better Houston, we have to start from the ground up, and give proper infrastructure access to all Houstonians.” said Jenifer at a recent public event. As the city continues to wrestle with it’s rapidly developing future, Jenifer’s wealth of experience seems a necessary voice in Council.
Along with infrastructure, Jenifer cares about equality for all of Houston’s citizens. As an openly transgender woman, candidacy is an historic one. If elected, she would become the first transgender person to hold office in a city of more than one million people. That would be the highest elected office held by any known transgender person to date. Of course, that’s not why she’s running, but it is an important part of her candidacy to recognize. She has been a leader in Houston’s LGBT community, having served as a past President of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, and as the 2012 Pride Marshal in Houston’s Pride Celebration.
Yesterday at City Hall, Jenifer Rene Pool made her official entry into the At-Large 3 race. Here’s coverage from TransGriot…
“She’s been hard at work at it for several months, but yesterday Jenifer Rene Pool made it official and announced her candidacy for the Houston City Council At Large Position 3 seat on the steps of Houston City Hall. And yeah, some blogger y’all know was there for the announcement a little after 3:30 PM CDT. I wanted to be there to witness Houston and trans history.”
Which is also why I’ve chosen to write today. As a citizen blogger, I try to cover most issues from observing, yet opinionated perspective. But I chose to work for Jenifer Rene Pool’s candidacy during the At-Large 3 race. I’m officially a campaign volunteer… not getting paid, but I help out with phone calls, block walks, and try to use my skills to advance her cause. Respectfully, I will not be covering the At-Large 3 race for Houston City Council on the Texas Leftist blog. Instead I would highly encourage readers to check out awesome coverage from Off the Kuff and Texpatriate to keep up with this city race. I do still plan to weigh in for other local races though.
Lastly, this post is not an endorsement, but just a recognition of why I’ve chosen the path of getting involved for this race. Sometimes when you believe in someone, you have to step in, work hard and see if you can make a difference. I know that if elected, Jenifer Rene Pool would be a monumental asset to Houston City Council. I want better streets and sidewalks in my neighborhood and everywhere I need to go, and she does too. If you’re a Houston voter, I encourage you to check out all of the candidates running, and make the best decision for you.
Me? I’m In for Jen.
(Jenifer Rene Pool’s official announcement at City Hall… July 11th, 2013)