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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In the Eleventh installment of the 2015 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire we hear from John LaRue, 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?
JL: John Christian Bullitt LaRue
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?
JL: I am a firm believer in the good that government, at all levels, can do for people from varying walks of life. I also believe that elected officials, as public servants, should seek to represent all of their constituents, not just those who vote for them. Local government is the level that is most responsive and accessible to constituents. Whether it is potholes and speed bumps or pensions and property taxes, Houston’s city officials have an opportunity to hear from the public twice a week about what is most important to them.
TL: If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.
JL: My top priority would be helping to find a long-term solution to our infrastructure woes. Our city is littered with potholes, our sidewalks are either in disrepair or nonexistent, and there need to more options for mass transit, most especially light rail. If our city is going to continue to grow in population, we must address the fact that we cannot sustain the current amount of growth in vehicles on our roads.
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.
JL: I support the continuation of ReBuild. However, right now the future of it is uncertain. We need to continue to increase funding for infrastructure and transportation improvements. We cannot expect to be considered a world-class city that hopes to bring in events like large conventions, the Super Bowl, the Final Four, and others and have the infrastructure issues we have right now. We may get the initial event—but once people arrive and see the mess, it would seem unlikely they would want to return. Our city has gotten by on the strength of the energy industry, the kindness of our citizens, and our low cost of living—but it’s time to step up and make the improvements needed to bring Houston to the next level.
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.
JL: I would support such a provision. While I support a strong-Mayor city government, I don’t believe that should come at the expense of members of Council. If you can find six council members who actually agree that something needs to be brought up, I believe that demonstrates that it has significant support on council, even if it’s not a majority. In fact, the At-Large system we have is a holdover from an attempt to keep traditionally underserved populations from having the ability to pass their legislative agenda. Providing for six council members to place an item on the agenda is good for our city and good for democratic republican government.
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?
JL: Absolutely. Our city needs to be much more walkable, friendly to cyclists, and accessible for those with disabilities. The more options we have for transportation, and therefore less drivers on our congested roads, the better.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
JL: I believe, first and foremost, that the fact that I will go into the City Council Chamber not being part of the entrenched political system will help me to address the issues I plan to focus on. At the same time, I have the policy knowledge and knowhow that is required of an at-large city council member charged with representing the entire city. I am open to meeting with all groups—left, right, and center—to address the issues our city faces.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
JL: I have a variety of interests including walking with my husband and our dog around our neighborhood, eating at some of Houston’s great local restaurants (where we also often take our dog), and I have a healthy love of Netflix. I am also a board member of Integrity/Houston, a group of LGBT Episcopalians and their allies, and my local parish, Trinity Church in midtown Houston.
In the wake of today’s historic SCOTUS decision, marriage equality for the state of Texas went from dream to reality.
But depending on the county that one lives in, that reality may be harder to swallow than it is for others.
As we speak, legal marriage ceremonies are being conducted in several Texas Counties, including El Paso, Hidalgo, Travis, Bexar and Dallas are now granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
However in the state’s most populous county of Harris, a pathetic waiting game is still being played, as County Clerk Stan Stanart is trying desperately to slow down the process of granting loving couples their constitutional rights.
Even after County Attorney Vince Ryan directly instructed Stanart to comply with federal law, the elected official seems to be ignoring federal law. One Houston couple, Hunter Middleton and John LaRue were the first in line at the Harris County Clerk’s office waiting to apply for the marriage license. Sadly they were also the first to be turned down. This is a risky stance for the Clerk, as it leaves Harris County and its taxpayersliable for deniability. In fact, several Houston couples have already begun proceedings to sue the county.
If LGBT Texans were hoping for some support from their governor on this historic day, they sadly will not find it. As Rebecca Elliott of the Houston Chronicle reports, Governor Greg Abbott has issued a directive in hopes of preventing same-sex spouses from receiving now federally-mandated benefits…
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott opened the door for state agencies to withhold benefits from same-sex couples Friday, hours after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
In a letter released Friday afternoon, Abbott ordered heads of state agencies to prioritize religious freedom, writing that no adverse action should be taken against a state official “on account of the person’s act or refusal to act that is substantially motivated by sincere religious belief.”
“This order applies to any agency decision, including but not limited to granting or denying benefits, managing agency employees, entering or enforcing agency contracts, licensing and permitting decisions, or enforcing state laws and regulations,” Abbott wrote.
Yet again, we have a measure of grand irony from the Texas Governor. preventing loving couples from getting married or receiving benefits is of the highest priority, but letting millions of poor Texans suffer without health insurance of any kind can wait?? Actions like these border on shameful.