Editorial note: This is the thirty-second 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.
City Councilmember Andrew C. Burks, At-large position #2
Texpatriate: What is your name?
AB: Andrew C. Burks Jr.
T: What is the position you currently hold?
AB: Houston City Council At-Large 2
T: What number term are you seeking?
AB: I am seeking my second term
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)?
AB: I am a Democrat
T: What was one ordinance you authored that has now become law? If none, what is an ordinance you have introduced?
AB: June 2013 I supported an amendment to increase the City of Houston’s property tax homestead exemption for senior citizens. I proposed this amendment because it will provide tax relief for senior citizen homeowners. Effective January 1, 2014, the city’s senior exemption will increase to $80,000.We have to continue to increase this because newer homes in Chapter 42 will average $200,000.
T: Why do you deserve another term?
AB: 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 which will reduce gang involvement but there is still a great amount of work to be completed. I also have a great amount of experience working with the cities budget, understanding how the city operates and how the departments function.
T: What is an ordinance you would introduce in your next term?
AB: July 17, 2013 I asked administration to look into the hiring veterans, disabled individuals, after-school programs and summer jobs programs to be added in the policy when businesses are asking for community development programs. I will continue fighting for this ordinance. Every company that hires a veteran should receive a tax credit. I was recently in Washington, DC lobbying for this measure.
T: What has been the most rewarding experience in serving on the City Council?
AB: It has been extremely rewarding to witness the impact my amendments and ordinances have had on improving individual’s quality of life.
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?
AB: As Council Member, I have traveled, spoken and worked for all communities. I have worked to ensure a high quality of life for all and my doors have remained open. My record of voting has been diverse and I have advocated for the termination of economic discrimination.
T: What has been the most important thing you have learned in your campaign?
AB: I have learned not to take one vote for granted, work hard, and remain fair.