In the Ninth installment of the 2013 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Hon. Andrew C Burks Jr., incumbent Houston City Council Member At Large Position 2, and running for reelection.
Please note: Responses have been received 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 will be considered during the endorsement process.
TL: What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?
AB: Andrew C. Burks Jr.
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
AB: I am currently the Houston City Council Member At-Large 2
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
AB: Local government is the first line of communication between the citizen and its government. Local government ensures trash is collected, responds to citizens needs, improves the quality of life for all individuals in the city, creates jobs while growing the economy and continues infrastructural improvement. Local government is vital because we respond immediately to the needs of the citizen.
TL: If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.
AB: Continue to work with the EPA for funding toward Brownfield clean up, hiring of veterans and disabled individuals, improving the economy of the city and increasing property tax homestead exemption for senior citizens.
TL: With the exception of city government and some other select businesses, Houstonians can still be fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender because we do not have a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for general employment. This lags behind other Texas cities such as Dallas, Austin, and Ft. Worth. Do you support a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for the city of Houston? If not, please explain why. If so, please explain how you would work to pass such a measure.
AB: I support a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance for the city of Houston. I will continue to publicly advocate for and vote in favor of a non-discrimination ordinance, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment, housing, and public accommodation.
TL: There have been an alarming number of complaints filed against officers in the Houston Police Department, accused of unwarranted police brutality towards citizens. A disproportionate amount of this violence occurs in minority communities, and in the vast majority of these cases, officers have gone unpunished. As a result, these incidents cause a cycle of mistrust between Houstonians and the very officers sworn to protect them. What can you do to increase oversight of the Houston Police Department, and help ensure that these incidents do not continue?
AB: Through my work as Houston City Council Member and community activist I have strongly advocated to ensure that Houston Police Officers receive more training in dealing with diverse communities. The job of a police officer is a high stress position and there has to be a stronger dialogue between the citizens and the police department. We should also improve the neighborhood policing policies and ensure police officers do more policing in their communities. I also strongly support town hall meetings collaborating with community leaders and civic club presidents to combat this issue. It is also vital that the Houston Police Department conduct extensive background checks based on all police officers.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
AB: I am extremely qualified for this position because my visible leadership as Houston City Councilmember At Large Position 2 and my experience as an activist and long history of involvement in the Houston community. I have taken the lead on many imperative issues facing the citizens of this great city such as, increasing senior citizen property tax exemption, ensuring our youth have more quality summer jobs, adding more ambulances to the Houston Fire Department and investing in quality after school programs for our youth but there is still a great amount of work to be completed. I also have a strong passion for making Houston the best city in the country to live, do business and raise a family. I also have a great amount of experience working with the cities budget, understanding how the city operates and how all departments’ function.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
AB: Free time is merely a dream. In my spare time, I think of how I can help improve, beautify, promote and better the quality of life for all our citizens and businesses.
Thanks to Mr. Burks for his participation.