This board has been reviewing all of the City Council candidates in recent days, and we plan to field endorsements in each and every Municipal election race. However, before he begin the contentious work of deciding who to support in competitive elections, often featuring a profusion of candidates, this board will endorse all those unopposed candidates for the Houston City Council. It is not that all those on the City Council would receive our automatic support if they were unopposed, but in the case of the 5 candidates with no opponent, this board found their service commendable and deserving of another two years on Bagby street.
City Council District C
Two members of this board reside within District C, the newly reconfigured central city district that includes Montrose, the Heights, Timbergrove & Meyerland, among other locations.
Since taking office last year, Councilmember Cohen has worked remarkably well with both the diverse interests of her own constituents and other groups throughout the City. As a former member of the Texas House of Representatives, Cohen was able to hit the ground running, so to speak, upon taking office. Since that time, she has supported a number of proposed ordinances, including a recent measure to overhaul regulations for group homes that often neglected its residents. In a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle, Cohen also expressed strong support for a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBT residents. This board believes such progressive solutions are imperative for a successful city leader.
Finally, Cohen also has been somewhat meticulous in keeping her constituents up-to-date with what is going on in local Government. Every week, she emails constituents a highly-detailed newsletter reviewing the major events of the preceding week. This board believes such outreach efforts are additionally important cornerstones of Councilmember Cohen’s successful first term in office.
This board, therefore, endorses the re-election of Ellen Cohen in District C.
City Council District E
One member of this board resides within District E, which has seen its share of exciting politics in the past year. The previous incumbent in District E, Mike Sullivan, a longtime friend of this board’s, voluntarily resigned from his seat while running to be the Harris County Tax Assessor. The resignation set up an early race for the seat, which ultimately resulted in the victory of Dave Martin, a pragmatic conservative, to lead the heavily Republican district that consists of Kingwood and Clear Lake. At that time, this board endorsed Martin as the better choice for the district.
In the following year since taking office, Councilmember Martin has continued a tradition of pragmatism. While many members of this board disagree with much of his politics, and would easily oppose his candidacy in other elections, this board believes he has thus far been a good fit for his district. While other conservative constituencies throughout the City have elected favorites of the Tea Party, who have contributed absolutely nothing to City policy and done nothing except meaningless obstruction, Councilmember Martin has offered up constructive counterpoints.
This board is quickly reminded of Martin’s recent exchanges with the City Council over the severity of the proposed “Wage theft” ordinance. While some other Councilmembers would simply attempt to obstruct, Martin took the opportunity to seek a meaningful consensus on the topic, and not score political points. These actions are what true public servants are made of.
This board, therefore, endorses the re-election of Dave Martin in District E.
City Council District H
This will actually be the Mayor Pro Tem’s, Councilmember Gonzalez, fourth consecutive City Council election that he will be victorious therein. In 2008, Adrian Garcia, then a City Councilmber, was elected Sheriff of Harris County. Garcia resigned from the Council upon taking office as Sheriff in January of 2009, and a special election was held a few months. Among the countless candidates who ran, Gonzalez ultimately proved victorious, and was re-elected without much opposition in November of both 2009 and 2011. This election will mark the start of his third –and final– term on the City Council.
In the past two years, Gonzalez has continued his tenure as one of the most effective members of the City Council. In 2010, shortly after being elected to his first full term, Gonzalez was appointed by Mayor as the Vice-Mayor Pro Tem, an unheard of move for the pseudo-freshman Councilmember. Last year, upon the start of his second full term, he was given the position of Mayor Pro Tem, an honor typically reserved for third term Councilmembers. With this responsibility, Gonzalez often must lead meetings of the City Council, a job this board believes he did very well.
Lastly, as the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, Gonzalez has been instrumental in the passage of the aforementioned Group home ordinance, as well as the progress being made on a citywide texting-while-driving ban.
This board, therefore, endorses the re-election of Ed Gonzalez in District H.
City Council District J_
In 2009, Mike Laster came painfully close to being elected to the City Council from District F, eventually losing to Al Hoang. In the interim between then and the next election in 2011, redistricting within the City of Houston siphoned off Laster’s neighborhood into the newly drawn District J. Laster ran and cruised to election in the new territory, garnering over 2/3 of the vote. At the time, some worried that Laster or Hoang would foster negative feelings towards one another on the Council.
Instead, the opposite happened. This board has been pleasantly surprised by how well Laster integrated into the Council. Making like Cohen, this board believes that Laster has done a tremendous job of combining the needs of his constituents with diverse needs from throughout the city.
Laster has worked with meticulous detail to be attentive to the people of his constituencies, including a plethora of neighborhood groups. This board believes that such attentiveness is one of the best qualities one may find in a City Councilmember. Additionally, this board was happy to see Laster, the first openly gay men elected to municipal office in Houston, present at the recent Houston gay pride parade.
This board, therefore, endorses the re-election of Mike Laster in District J.
City Council District K
So the joke goes, Houston is a city where politicians are connected to colors. Mark & Bill White. Lee, Peter & Helena Brown. Al, Ronald & Larry Green. The last name in particular, though, has set himself apart and made a name for his own in Houston.
Since taking office last year in District K, Larry Green has worked tirelessly to fight for the needs of all his constituents. This has included being attentive to the needs of his constituents, as well as creating a tremendously expansive TIRZ within his district. The zone, which is 5500 acres, designates that a proportion of the taxation collected in the area will be applied towards infrastrucutre projects that are badly needed within the area. This board finds the accomplishment an important one for the first-term Councilmember.
This board has also been pleased by Green’s regular newsletters to his constituents, summarizing all of the ongoing action at City Hall, as well as how Green has been relating himself to these pertinent issues.
This board, therefore, endorses the re-election of Larry Green in District K.
The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey & Noah M. Horwitz of Boston and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans.