Editorial note: This is the twentieth 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.
Robert Gallegos, Candidate for the Houston City Council District I
Texpatriate: What is your name?
RG: Robert Gallegos
T: What is your current occupation?
RG: I work for the Harris County Sheriff’s Department. I’m very fortunate and proud to protect and serve the people.
T: Have you run for or held public office before?
RG: No, but I very much welcome this opportunity.
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)?
RG: I agree that this question is important to Voters. I’m very fortunate and proud to be a life-long Democrat. I have always voted and it’s always been Democrat. I think Voters are savvy and going online to research candidates running for office. Google is a wealth of information and folks know, all you have to do is type in a candidate’s name, add Democrat or Republican and the information will pop up.
T: Open seats typically attract countless candidates. Why are you specifically running for this seat?
RG: I’m the only candidate in this race who was born, raised and always resided in the District. Two of my opponents moved into the District to run for office, and they don’t have (or have much of) a voting record in the District. I have cared enough about this District to have always lived in the District. My Government and Civic experience is unmatched; I worked for former County Commissioner, Sylvia R. Garcia (now State Senator) for many, many years where I served Districts I & H, Galena Park, Jacinto City and Aldine. I was successful with managing a budget; infrastructure improvements; I helped bring jobs into the Precinct; I worked on programs that are important to me, which are for the seniors, veterans and youth; I worked very closely with Leadership relative to Parks, Libraries and Community Centers. There was a lot more that went into my role, but this is an overview.
I have worked with the District’s Civic and Community Leaders throughout the years on issues that are important to District I, such as fighting for the Harrisburg Underpass; fighting to save the Historic Rufus Gage Elementary School building; fighting for the first quite zone in the District’s east end; I’m the Founder and first President of the Eastwood/Lawndale Super Neighborhood Council; I was very instrumental in organizing the Downtown Super Neighborhood Council with the Founder and First President, James Dinkins; and, I served as President of my Civic Club, Houston Country Club Place, for over 15 years! The majority of current Civic, Super Neighborhood and Community Leaders are backing me because they know me, I have been effective and I have always been here for them. I’m the most qualified person for the role as Houston City Council Member District I.
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?
RG: I know Council Member James Rodriguez, and I know we will work well together on a seamless transition because this is about the great people of District I. As a Community Leader, James Rodriguez called on me to support him in his last election as City Council Member, which I gave him my support.
T: What do you hope to get out of serving on the City Council?
RG: My heart and passion has always been in serving the great people of the District, which is why I have always been here with and for them. There is a great deal of work that goes into running a campaign, but the hard work really begins once a person is elected. I want to be that great City Council Member who is known for listening to Constituents and getting things done. I want to Lead the fight for safe neighborhoods, economic growth, creating new jobs, infrastructure improvement, managing taxpayer dollars wisely and so much more.
T: What is an ordinance you would introduce in your next term?
RG: I would propose an ordinance that addresses the quality of life for neighborhoods. Its purpose would first be to provide a more comprehensive after school and summer programs for children and youth. I would advocate a game base learning program as well as educational learning activities. Through a collaborative effort set forth in the ordinance the Departments of Parks, Library, Houston Police Department and Houston Fire Department would collaborate to provide educational, enrichment and enjoyable programming that would provide safe activities for the youth of our city. It would address juvenile negative behavior, provide security for parents knowing that their children were in a protected and safe environment. We could add youth work programs in partnerships with businesses and expose many youth of this city to an opportunity to visit museums, historical sites, Houston Zoo, Houston Fine Art collaboration of the symphony, ballet, opera and theater. The cost would pay in the future by reducing violence and vandalism, address health issues of our youth and build stronger families in our neighborhoods.
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?
RG: I’m interested in working with anyone or any organization who is sincere in improving the quality of life in District I. I will not accept the status quo or poor reasoning as to why certain things are the way they are, and a ‘that’s the way we have always done it’ mentality. One of my many objectives as the next District’s Council Member is to make District I, Even Better! I have a proven track record for organizing the community and challenging HISD, METRO and the City regarding projects because they were initially not interested in listening to the community. I do not have any contracts that would influence my decision making. I’m here to serve the people of our great District.
T: What has been the most important thing you have learned in your campaign?
RG: There needs to be more time in a day. No, seriously, this has been a meaningful and emotional journey for me; my Dad and Mom passed away some time ago and I wish they were here with me, but I will carry on their great Legacy by continuing to put other people first and working smart & hard. To this end, this campaign is not about me, it’s about the great people of District I.
I want to be your next Houston City Council Member for District I!
I invite you and your readers to visit my website at www.voterobertgallegos.com.
Vote Robert Gallegos on November 5, 2013!