Editorial note: This is the thirtieth in our series of electronic interviews with City Council, City Controller and Mayoral candidates. We have sent 10 questions based on seven different templates: (1) incumbent City Council, (2) challenger City Council, (3) open seat City Council, (4) challenger Controller, (5) incumbent Controller, (6) challenger Mayoral and (7) incumbent Mayoral. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.
Richard Nguyen, Candidate for the Houston City Council District F
Texpatriate: What is your name?
RN: My name is Richard Nguyen. I am running for the District F Councilmember position.
T: What is your current occupation?
RN: I am an employee of the City of Houston, Solid Waste Management Department, Combustible Waste Storage Permitting and Inspection.
T: Have you run for or held public office before?
RN: No, this is my first attempt.
T: What is your political affiliation? We understand that City Council elections are nonpartisan, but this is a point many voters find important. If you are not comfortable currently identifying with a political party, what was the last Political Party’s primary election you voted in (a matter of public record)?
RN: It is true that City Council elections are nonpartisan. However, I voted with the Republican Party because I believe strongly in the United States Constitutions.
T: Typically, this board will defer to incumbents unless we are convinced the incumbent has failed in some way. Do you believe the incumbent has failed at her or his job? If so, why?
RN: The incumbent has poorly represented District F. The district is underserved. However, the incumbent took credits for Capital Improvement Projects that were in progress before he took office. Instead of representing the constituents in City Hall, the incumbent has been too busy either suing someone or defending himself in court. He closed his door on his constituents and forgot why he was placed in office.
T: Why are you specifically running against this incumbent?
RN: District F does not need a Councilmember who is self serving. District F needs a Councilman who serves EVERYBODY.
T: What do you hope to get out of serving on the City Council?
RN: Since I was young, I have always been taught that you must learn to serve in order to be a good citizen. I want nothing more for me than to be a good citizen and give back to the community that I call home.
T: What is an ordinance you would introduce in your next term?
RN: One of my pet peeves is to see our neighborhoods trashed with unused furniture and appliances. I would like to see our city become of the cleanest places to live in. We have scheduled trash pick ups that we must adhere by. We have depositories that our citizens can use to dispose items they no longer need at no cost. We cannot just dump our trash anywhere we please. Perhaps an ordinance that further deter illegal dumping and encourage the use of our city facilities, or an incentive for clean ups is needed to keep our city sparkling.
T: Obviously, an officeholder strives to maintain a diverse core constituency and political base, but all candidates have interest groups they have been traditionally strong with and traditionally weak with, respectively. For you, what would be one example of each type of group?
RN: Surprisingly, I have been weak with the Asian groups, perhaps because I have mistakenly considered them the traditionally “Model Minorities” and that they do not need more attention than other groups. However, as an officeholder, especially one who represents the “International District” (District F), I will be representing the most diverse district in the city. I will be striving for equal representation in every ethnicity, groups, or base.
T: What has been the most important thing you have learned in your campaign?
RN: Humility wins over hubris. Honor your voters, not hustle them. By surrounding myself with sincerity, not sycophants, I have received more affection from my supporters. Although I have little money to run this campaign; I make up for that with motivation. I am driven by compassion and when a decision has to be made between head and heart, I chose to not split the two. Go with conviction.