Editorial note: This is the eighth 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.
Rogene Gee Calvert, Candidate for the Houston City Council at-large Position #3
Texpatriate: What is your name?
RC: Rogene Gee Calvert
T: What is your current occupation?
RC: Partner, Outreach Strategists, LLC, a public relations, strategic communications firm.
T: Have you run for or held public office before?
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)?
T: Open seats typically attract countless candidates. Why are you specifically running for this seat?
RC: I was born and raised in Houston and have seen it grow and change. I am running for an At-Large City Council Seat so that I can represent the interests and concerns of the most diverse city in America. I look forward to representing and serving a city with such a rich diversity of people and using my collaborative leadership style and coalition-building approach to bring all voices to the table so we can have a more effective government. My greatest strength is my ability to bring people from diverse backgrounds and interests together to work towards common, mutually beneficial goals. I have always believed in the multicultural greatness of our community, our city and our future. I truly believe that my strong campaign and goals are dedicated to representing all Houstonians, regardless of who they are or how they came to be here. My slogan is Together for Houston – All of Houston.
T: Are you in contact with the incumbent Councilmember for this position? Would the two of you have a good relationship for a possible transition?
RC: Yes, Melissa Noriega and I are good friends. She was among the first persons I spoke to before deciding to run. I also know her staff and have a good relationship with them. We would have a seamless transition.
T: What do you hope to get out of serving on the City Council?
RC: Having had the opportunity to work in City Council for 4 years as chief of staff for At-large Council member Gordon Quan from 2000-2004, I know how an at-large office should function and how Council relates to the Mayor’s Office. I’ve also worked in the Mayor’s Office for 6 years under Mayor Bill White, who appointed me as his director of personnel and volunteer initiatives. I’ve worked across the city with various neighborhood and civic groups, agencies and departments. With this experience, I know I can “hit the ground running” on day one! I also know that I will receive many rewards serving the people of this great City and especially making their lives better. I want to preserve, promote and protect Houston by aggressively pursuing a coordinated vision of the City that includes better transportation options, better access to health and preventative care, and a mix of stronger economic incentives to assist small business in thriving in Houston. With this said, I know there will also be many challenges, difficult decisions to make and sleepless nights seconding guessing and pondering one’s actions.
T: What is an ordinance you would introduce in your next term?
RC: There are 3 areas I would seek the opportunity to create an ordinance:
1) Changes in inter-governmental, local agreements to encourage and promote cooperation, collaboration and joint funding of services, programs and facilities to economize and reduce costs.
2) Complete Streets Concept- specific policy goals will include a greater role for Complete Streets programming in our City’s transportation and infrastructure plans to make Houston friendly to all users of streets. This would speak directly to all policy areas by creating safer streets, better access for all residents, increasing mobility, and improving neighborhoods.
3) Quality of life and neighborhood improvement/ development-Coordinating a comprehensive plan with input from citizens to coordinate various plans like housing, recreation, transportation, roads, etc. that affect a neighborhood.
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?
RC: Groups who I have been traditionally strong with are progressive, forward looking and quality of life focused. Groups I have traditionally been weak with are rigid in their mindset and extreme in their focus.
T: What has been the most important thing you have learned in your campaign?
RC: The most important thing I have learned in this campaign is not to take anything too personally. In particular, when it comes to asking for support and donations, you will win a few and lose a few.