In the Fourth installment of the 2015 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Greg Travis, candidate for Houston City Council, District G.
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?
GT: Greg Travis
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
GT: Government is important, but only if it addresses the needs of the people and is representative of the people by setting the rules, rights, and responsibilities of all involved, without which we have no society. Everyone is capable of governing themselves. Government should be answerable to the people and the more control they have over the government, the more they control their own destiny.
Government should not oppress, but enable, allow the citizens to be free to reach their potential, by providing a basic framework by which and under which we can all operate. Government’s first duty is to protect the people not run their lives. Government can provide for basic needs best provided for as a whole, such as defense, security, or water and roads. However, I feel it is better if it provides for security and opportunity by limiting its reach and allowing the citizens to lead free lives because with freedom there is hope—and there are dreams and from dreams we slip the horizons of our limitations and become more than who we are.
TL: If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.
GT: Fiscal Discipline—and followed closely by Infrastructure Improvements. A lone Council member cannot on their own accomplish either without the help and support of the community and other council members. I intend to educate the public through the media and social media as to the dire situation we find ourselves in and then promote the solutions—which is to curb spending and focus our priorities on infrastructure. I intend to work with the Mayor and other council members and bring together a coalition who understands the seriousness of our situation. I am proud that in 24 years, I have never lost a trial. This shows I can get together with people I just met and within a week or two, convince them of the facts and my desired solution to the situation. Further, I am a certified mediator and I am trained and practiced in bringing parties together to resolve a situation. I intend to do the same on council.
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.
GT: While there are aspects of Rebuild Houston I have troubles with, I generally support the concept. I think the implementation of the program has been troublesome and misguided. However, the program as conceptualized is good. We need a dedicated funding source to address the years of neglect. We have $500M a year in depreciation affecting our roads and infrastructure, with only $100M going towards repairing and replacement and that in and of itself is mainly due to ReBuild Houston. We have 16,000 lane miles in Houston with 75% in need of repair or replacement. What other way can we insure this need is addressed? Bond issuances are problematic as we are near the ceiling on bond debt, and the process will take us too long to address our needs which are immediate.
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.
GT: Yes. Actually, I would prefer four members of council. I think if you can get 25% to bring up a matter, it should be worth considering by the entire council. This issue is one of the issues I bring up when talking to the residents in my district.
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?
GT: Yes and No. While I support the concept generally and appreciate the goals, I do not think it is appropriate in Houston for most areas. We have 16,000 lane miles currently which we can’t even maintain properly today. To require complete streets could easily effectively increase that number from 20% to 33% depending. Where would we get the money? Further, not all streets or areas in Houston are conducive to such a policy or would pass a cost/benefit analysis. To effectively handle current traffic and other uses would require usage of eminent domain on a scale we have never seen. However, other areas are perfect for such a concept and there is a need. So, it is not as simple as a yes or no, but rather a case by case, area by area analysis.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
GT: I do not have such a high estimation of myself to think I am the best candidate for this office as undoubtedly there are a number of people who could run with better experience than I. However, I am the best candidate “running” for this office—simply because I care and I can and will solve the problems. I am not a politician. I am a businessman and an attorney with empathy for my fellow citizens. The people in my district and in this city are tired of paying for services and not having them delivered. They don’t mind paying for what they get but they do want to get what they pay for. Roads, Drainage, Sewers, Police and Fire. I get it.
As stated previously, I am both a litigator and a certified mediator. I have never lost a trial in 24 years of practice. I know what it takes to reach out and convince others of the actions needed to resolve situations in my clients favor. I will use my talents to do the same on council for my clients—the citizens of my district.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
GT: I spend time with my dogs (and semi-adopted stray cat). I also go out on dates with my girlfriend. I read, listen to classic (1960s and 1970s) music (Mo-Town especially), and continue to search for the perfect ice-cream. Also, I spend quite a bit of time rescuing animals, whether domestic or wild (sort of a hobby).
Thanks to Mr. Travis for the responses.