Texpatriate’s Questions for David Rosen

Editorial note: This is the fourteenth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

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David Rosen, Democratic candidate for Harris County Treasurer

Texpatriate: What is your name?
DR: David Rosen

T: How long have your held this post? What number term are you seeking?
DR: I am a challenger to an incumbent. I do not hold this post, and I am seeking what would be my first term.

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL (including all Judicial) offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
DR: I have never held an elected or appointed political office.

T: What is your political party?
DR: I am a Democrat.

T: What do you think the role of the County Treasurer should be?
DR: You deserve to know where your money is going. As your Harris County Treasurer, I will create an online portal where anyone with an internet connection can see money going in and out of our local government coffers in as close to real-time as possible. This data is currently uploaded once a month by the incumbent in the form of a gigantic PDF file. I want to make this data searchable and user-friendly, similar to how former District Clerk Loren Jackson made the data flowing in and out of that office more navigable. This information should be available to any person at any time for any reason. If elected County Treasurer, I will act as if I was the Chief Transparency Officer of Harris County.

Harris County government is in desperate need for more transparency. In the last six years, three of our Constables have been indicted and a County Commissioner and County Budget Officer both resigned their offices, all because of alleged financial improprieties.

In other counties, the County Treasurer may also have some finance, auditing, forecasting or budgeting responsibilities. The office of Harris County Treasurer has largely been relegated to serve in an accounts payable/accounts receivable function. I would like to see Commissioners Court restore some of the responsibilities to this office that were stripped from the County Treasurer in the mid-1990s, when Don Sumners held the position.

I also want to use this office to do some social good – to partner with local non-profits that teach basic personal finance and financial literacy to young people in Harris County’s roughest neighborhoods.

T: Do you believe that the incumbent has specifically failed at her or his job? If so, why?
DR: The longer my opponent remains in office, the less relevant and the less visible this office becomes. Most people have never heard of the County Treasurer unless they received a check for serving as a juror. So far as I know, in my opponent’s eight years in office, he has only publicly issued two official opinions: first, he spoke up against interest rate default swaps (years after the interest rate default swaps went sour), and secondly, he said the scrolling marquees on Metro buses should not display the words “Go Texans!”

I would challenge anyone who is thinking of voting for my opponent to go to the County Treasurer’s new website and see for themselves how our monthly expenditures are displayed.

You deserve better. You deserve to know where your money is going.

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
DR: I am a lifelong Houstonian, the son of two local public schoolteachers and a former Student Body President at the University of Houston. I work in communications at an offshore engineering company and at night I am earning my MBA from the University of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business. I am set to graduate in May of next year.

I am the only candidate in this race who is campaigning on a specific platform of changes to be made to this office and to local policy. I am running with the support of hundreds of Democrats, independents and Republicans from across Harris County.

My opponent is an entrenched part of the system that I am trying to change.

I am the only candidate in this race who has not been sanctioned by the Texas Ethics Commission on four separate occasions. I am the only candidate in this race who has not run for office ten different times for four different positions. I am the only candidate in this race who is not named Orlando Sanchez.

T: There has recently been talk of abolishing this office, much like the former position of State Treasurer. Is this a good idea? Why or why not?
DR: Former Republican primary candidate for County Treasurer Arnold Hinojosa and former Democratic County Treasurer nominee Richard Garcia have both publicly said that they support abolishing this position. I believe that such criticism from both sides of the political spectrum is more of a reflection on the guy who holds the office rather than a reflection of the office itself.

We need more people, not fewer people, watching our public money. If used properly, this office can be a powerful tool to shine a light on local government spending.

The office of State Treasurer was abolished in 1995 and its duties were absorbed by the State Comptroller, a similar office that is directly answerable to the voters. There is no similar public elected office in Harris County that would absorb the duties of the County Treasurer if the position was abolished.

Abolishing the County Treasurer’s office would require an amendment to the State Constitution. It is not as simple as pressing a button or flipping a switch – it would be a long, expensive process that would require a statewide vote.

The office of County Treasurer has been abolished in eight Texas counties, but none since the 1980s. In the past, Commissioners Courts around Texas have threatened to abolish the office when those Commissioners have clashed politically with the person holding the office of County Treasurer. This happened in Fort Bend County in 2005, for instance, in Harris County in the 1990s when Don Sumners was County Treasurer, and again more recently in 2007. All three of those attempts failed.

T:  The Democratic nominee for this position has advocated creating same-sex partner benefits for the employees of Harris County. Is this desirable? Furthermore, is this an appropriate issue for the County Treasurer (if so, why)?
DR: My parents are the reason that I got involved in politics. They taught me that if I had three meals a day to eat and a roof over my head, that I should consider myself lucky, and that I owed it to my community to try to make things better for other people.

My parents retired last year after working for more than 70 combined years as public schoolteachers in the Houston area. They have been together 28 years and they are married, but because of their sexual orientation they are still not able to share health insurance. This is a tremendous financial hardship that was placed on my working-class family for no reason other than because my parents are gay.

I have been calling for marriage equality and insurance equality since long before I ever became a candidate for County Treasurer, and I will continue talking about this issue until couples like my parents are finally treated equally under the law.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
DR: 1)      Equality for my GLBT friends and family members – the fight for GLBT equality can only be described as my generation’s civil rights movement. This is an issue that is also tremendously important to me and my family, since I was raised by two Moms. Earlier this year, I released a campaign video featuring my gay parents and touting my support for gay rights – so far as we know, this is the first time that an American political candidate with GLBT parents has featured their family in an advertisement. From the outset of this campaign, I have called for same-sex partner benefits to be offered to the employees of Harris County. In May, I had the privilege of sharing our story in OutSmart Magazine. Later that month we appeared as a family on KPFT’s radio show Queer Voices. 

2)      Getting the next generation of activists involved in local politics – I am thrilled to campaign alongside volunteers from the Lamar High School Young Democrats, the Rice Young Democrats, and a group called West U for Progress.

3)      Mentoring young people in my former neighborhood of Alief – joining the debate team in 7th grade at Killough Middle School changed my life for the better. My former coach, Mrs. Sandra Jones, was one of the most important people from my childhood and she is still a good friend. I have mentored students on the debate team at Killough as a volunteer debate coach, 15 years after I was captain of the same debate team.

 

Texpatriate’s Questions for Wesley Ward

Editorial note: This is the thirteenth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

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Judge Wesley Ward, 234th District Court

Texpatriate: What is your name?
WW: My name is Wesley Ward, and I serve as Judge of Texas’ 234th District Court. The Court is a trial court handling a broad docket of civil disputes, and my district covers all of Harris County.

T: How long have your held this post? What number term are you seeking?
WW: I have served as Judge of the 234th since 2012, when I was appointed to replace the previous retiring judge, and was confirmed unanimously in a bi-partisan vote of the Texas Senate. I am seeking election to a four-year term.

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL (including all Judicial) offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
WW: This is the first time that I have ever held a political office. Before becoming a Judge, I was a civil litigation attorney here in Houston, and I held several significant positions in legal and charitable groups:

Chair – Houston Bar Association Litigation Section

Co-Chair – Houston Bar Association Professionalism Committee

Co-Chair – HBA Fun Run Committee benefitting The Center serving persons with developmental disabilities

Chair – HBA Mentor-Protégé program

Life Member – Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Captain – HLSR Team Penning and Ranch Sorting Committee

Chair – Associate’s Roundtable, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy

T: What is your political party?
WW: I am a Republican. With my qualifications and track record of running a fair and efficient courtroom I have also attracted significant support from attorneys and citizens of all types of political affiliations, backgrounds, and law practice & business types.

T: Please describe a notable case you have presided over while on the bench. What rulings did you make? What were the implications of the case?
WW: In the time that I have served as Judge, I have presided over more than 50 trials, the second-most of any Harris County Civil District Court in that period. Every one of the cases was significant in its own way. From a jury award of $550.41 in chiropractic bills to a dispute over $50 Million in oil and gas damages, every party, attorney, witness, and juror who comes into the 234th can expect a courteous, civil, prompt, and fair resolution of their dispute, in accordance with the law. For each and every one of those cases, it is probably one of the most important events in their lives at that time, and I pledge to treat each case accordingly as long as I am the Judge.

T: Have there been any high profile cases in which the Court of Appeals or the Texas Supreme Court reversed your ruling? What were the parameters of the case?
WW: There have not been any significant reversals of any of my decisions.

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
WW: I am highly qualified, have a proven successful track record, and am supported by a broad bi-partisan cross-section of the legal community.

My qualifications include being an acclaimed civil litigation attorney, a Certified Public Accountant, Eagle Scout, National Merit Scholar, Graduate with Honors from UT Law School, leader in the Houston bar, and active leader in community and charitable events.

During my time on the bench, I have performed as one of the top civil district judges in our county in terms of number of jury trials, number of bench trials, total trials, total days in trial, and lowest case/docket backlog. My hard work has been rated positively in the HBA judicial polls where I received “Outstanding” marks in all categories: follows the law, rules decisively and timely, demonstrates impartiality, is courteous and attentive toward attorneys and witnesses, works hard and is prepared, and uses attorneys time efficiently.

In the HBA Judicial Qualification poll, I was rated “Well-Qualified” by a more than 2-to-1 margin over my opponent.

Supporters of my campaign include 14 past Presidents of the Houston Bar Association and hundreds of local attorneys representing every kind of practice area, background, firm type and political affiliation. More than 100 local law firms are supporting my campaign. A list of my endorsements and supporters is on my website: www.wesleyward.com.

T: What role do you think a Civil District Judge should have individually? What role do you think the Civil District Courts should have as a whole?
WW: My role as a Civil District Court Judge is to provide fair and efficient justice to every party who comes before the Court. Every day when I take the bench, there are 3 signs on the door that I pass through: The first reminds me of important values that I hold – “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” The second is a checklist of areas that judges should be mindful of in doing their jobs: “Follows the Law, Rules Decisively & Timely, Demonstrates Impartiality, Is Courteous & Attentive Toward Attorneys & Witnesses, Works Hard & Is Prepared, and Uses Attorneys Time Efficiently.” The third on is a mantra that a wise and experienced judge passed on to me when I first started: “Be quick to rule and slow to judge.”

In response to the last part of the question, Judges must work together without regard to party affiliation or other differences to ensure that our Harris County courts continue to work for the good of our justice system and our community. I have been very gratified to experience the bipartisan collegiality of our Harris County Civil District Courts, working together to provide the best justice we can.

T: What are your thoughts on the partisan election of Judges?
WW: In Texas, our legislative process, with citizen input, has decided that judges should be elected in periodic partisan elections. As the current law of the State, I support it. I also believe that judges should be accountable to citizens, and I very much enjoy discussing my service with voters. I do support an open dialogue of various proposals to modify our judicial selection process, but as long as it is the law of the State of Texas I will be a willing participant.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?

  1. Efficiency – Since I became the Judge, the 234th is one of our county’s leading courts in terms of working hard to reduce our case backlog by staying busy with bench trials and jury trials. I have also created and started using a powerpoint presentation for my instructions during jury selection, to improving comprehension, streamlining the jury selection process and providing more efficient use of jurors’ time.
  2. Fairness – Running through a lot of cases doesn’t mean a thing if the cases aren’t handled justly and fairly. I and all of the staff of the 234th are always conscious of the importance of every case to the parties involved, and we work hard to get all parties the fair hearing they deserve. Polls of attorneys who practice in our Court indicate that we are doing a good job of handling our cases fairly and impartially.
  3. The Future – I think that Judges should do all they can to make sure the future of our civil justice system is in order. Before I took the bench, I was very active in programs to encourage mentorship of newer attorneys in how to act with civility and professionalism. Since becoming a Judge, I have continued my interest in mentoring law students. This summer, I located 5 outstanding students from our local law schools (University of Houston, South Texas College of Law, and Thurgood Marshall School of Law), and from UT Law School, who worked as interns. With all of those students back in school, I am once again looking for law students to help out with the Court and to show them the importance of a fair and efficient civil court system.

Texpatriate’s Questions for Chip Wells

Editorial note: This is the twelfth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

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Texpatriate:What is your name?
CW: Clinton E. “Chip” Wells, Jr.

T: What office are you seeking?
CW: Judge, 247th Family District Court, Harris County, Texas

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL (including all Judicial) offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
CW: None

T: What is your political party?
CW: None

T: What is a specific case in which you disagree with actions undertaken by the incumbent?
CW: I believe that the previous Court administration has maintained a concern regarding the best interests of children whose interests are the subject of matters pending before the Court. I would continue to maintain that concern from the previous Court’s administration. I would end the previous administration’s mandatory participation in “parenting class” and the manner with which the Court dealt with failure to attend
the mandatory parenting class.

T: What is a contentious issue that you belief the Court will face in the near future? Why is it important? How would you solve it?
CW: There is a growing issue arising out of the number of pro se! litigants seeking relief in the Family Courts of Harris County, Texas. The already crowded dockets are further clogged by these individuals who choose to represent themselves, yet are often ill-prepared to proceed or to proceed efficiently.

There should be some docket accommodation for those individuals who choose to represent themselves that provides for their right to self-representation but does not otherwise impair the flow of the docket for litigants with counsel. I propose the creation of a “pro se!” docket which pro se! litigants will be directed to that is especially created to accommodate their needs. Information regarding that docket (or
dockets) would be published on the website and pro se! litigants would be directed to those docket settings.

T: Do you believe that the incumbent has specifically failed at her or his job? If so, why?
CW: [no answer]

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
CW: Experience. I bring over 37 years of legal experience to the Bench. In addition to my 37 years of legal experience I have 62 years of life experience which provides the foundation for a well-reasoned, well-rounded application of the law, a reasonable application of the Rules to effect a just and right resolution of disputed matters and a predictable outcome for lawyers practicing in the 247th Family District Court. My
opponent is a much younger man without the benefit of similar life experiences to equip him for a position on the Bench. His five years of legal experience minimally exceeds the four years experience required by State Law to serve as a State District Court Judge.

T: What role do you think a Family District Judge should have individually? What role do you think the Family District Courts should have as a whole?
CW: I believe that a Family Court Judge should be predictable in his or her application of the law and the rules of procedure. The Judge is obliged to apply the law and the rules in a manner calculated to obtain a result that is just and right. I do not believe that Family Courts are a place where Judges should legislate or force their own personal values or views on families and individuals that come before it. To the
extent reasonable Courts should allow parents to make decisions regarding their children and rely upon the lawyers and the individuals before the Court to make the best decisions for individuals involved.

T: What role do you believe that mandatory mediation should have in Family law cases?
CW: I believe that mediation should be mandatory in Family Law cases unless, the lawyers for the litigants have good cause to believe and do believe that mediation would not be successful. I do not believe that the Court should require mediation when counsel for the parties file a joint objection to mediation.

T: What are your thoughts on the partisan election of Judges?
CW: The partisan election of Judges is an inefficient and undesirable process for the creation of a Judiciary. However, I have not heard a method proposed which is more suitable for the creation of a Judiciary.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
CW: The three most important issues to me include maintaining an open court that provides equal access to justice for all who come before the Court, protection of the best interests of the children whose lives are impacted by the Court and ending the partisan favoritism that has characterized many of the Courts in recent years. I promise to maintain a Court without bias or prejudice to an individual’s gender, race or sexual orientation. I will promote the best interests of children whose lives are affected by the Court. There will be an end to the favoritism in appointments made to a favored few. Appointments should be made based on merit, need and experience suitable to assist the Court and/or provide for the benefit of individuals for whom appointments are made.

Texpatriate’s Questions for Greg Glass

Editorial note: This is the eleventh in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

Greg Glass, Democratic candidate for 230th District Court (Criminal)

Texpatriate: What is your name?
GG: Greg Glass

T: What office are you seeking?
GG: Judge, 230th Criminal District Court, Harris County, Texas.

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL (including all Judicial) offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
GG: Democratic Precinct Chair, Precinct 34, Harris County, Texas (2000 – 2002).

T: What is your political party?
GG: Democrat. Always a Democrat.

T: What is a specific case in which you disagree with actions undertaken by the incumbent?
GG: My opponent was appointed by our esteemed governor after he ran against and lost to Judge Maria Jackson for Judge of the 339th Criminal District Court in the 2012 general election. I have had no experience with my opponent as Judge of that court.

T: What is a contentious issue that you believe the Court will face in the near future? Why is it important? How would you solve it?
GG: The dockets in Harris County continue to grow larger each year with no additional courts being created to handle the ever burgeoning population in over 28 years. I will support requests for the creation of more criminal district courts, and for the creation of Associate Judge positions to handle routine matters such as pleas. I would also prioritize cases for trial, starting with those who are jailed and seek speedy trials, and those on bond who seek an early trial because of the nature of the charges being so problematical to keeping or maintaining employment, etc. Lastly, we need to make sure that all non-violent offenders can post bail so they can keep or obtain a job, support their dependents, and hire their own attorneys. If a drug offender tests positive while on bond, I would require him or her to enroll in an out-patient drug treatment program rather than revoking and having them go to jail and post a higher bond, as is the common practice nowadays.

T: Do you believe that the incumbent has specifically failed at her or his job? If so, why?
GG: I have not handled any cases in that court since my opponent was appointed. Thus, I have no knowledge of either his job success or failure.

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponent?
GG: A great education, and forty plus years as a criminal trial lawyer, while my opponent has half the experience and no experience in criminal defense. My qualifications are as follows: U.T. Arlington honor graduate (B.A. 1970, with honors; Phi Alpha Theta Honor Society); U. T. Austin law School – J.D. 1973; First Place in Appellate Advocacy competition for freshmen (Spring, 1971); employed as an associate in a Houston civil law practice (1973 to 1975); private general practice (1975 to 1977); partner, Ritchie & Glass, Law Firm (1977 to 2008); private criminal defense practice (2008 to present); experienced in both civil (three jury trials) and criminal cases and appellate procedure; have tried well more than 100 felony cases (some federal, mostly state) to verdict; have tried several dozen criminal misdemeanor cases to verdict; have briefed and argued cases before both Texas Courts of Appeals and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; Board Certified in Criminal Law since 1983 by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; member: Houston Bar Association, College of the State Bar of Texas, Texas Criminal Defense Association, Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association; Licensed to practice in all Texas Courts, Southern, Western and Eastern District of Texas, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and U.S. Supreme Court; almost forty-one years experience as a practicing lawyer.

T: What role do you think a Criminal District Judge should have individually? What role do you think the Criminal District Courts should have as a whole?
GG: The role of a criminal district judge is to assure that the law is followed, all rights are respected and the court’s business, from plea-bargaining through trial, is conducted fairly, impartially and expeditiously. A judge should conduct himself with unquestioned integrity and fairness, which generates confidence both in the bar and for the public, in absolute impartiality. Respect for the judicial system lies in fairness and courtesy, as well as respect no only for the law, but for all who come before the court. The bottom line is that I have a wealth of legal
and life experience, years more than my opponent.

T: What role do you believe a Judge should have in plea bargains? Do you think a Judge should ever veto an agreement between the District Attorney and Defense Attorneys?
GG: Plea bargaining, by and large, is a process between the prosecutor’s office and the defense. Normally, a judge does not get involved unless the parties cannot agree and both sides wish to approach and explain the problems which are preventing an agreed resolution, and determine if the judge will agree to a particular outcome (or a particular range of outcomes), and thus take responsibility for the outcome. This is a common
practice. I do think it is important for a judge to inquire as to why a particular plea bargain has been reached if it seems out of the ordinary, or unfair to one side or another, and for the judge to understand the dynamics behind the agreement. The only time I feel a judge ought to reject an agreement is when it is unconscionable under the circumstances; otherwise, the plea bargain should be followed.

T: What role do you think that rehabilitation, rather than punishment, particularly for drug offenses, should have in the criminal justice process?
GG: Rehabilitation for drug offenders is should be a priority, even for repeat offenders, provided that the offender has decided to make a change in his or her life. The first step in rehabilitation is to admit that one has a problem, and the second is a decision to change. Both are required for success. My general philosophy is that prison is a last resort for the non-violent offender, and that only after the offender has been given every reasonable opportunity to do what is required on probation, leaving the Court no viable options.

T: What are your thoughts on the partisan election of Judges? I believe in the partisan election of judges. The appointment system used in many states makes it all but impossible to remove undeserving judges, even if it is justified. Second, judges serve the people, who ought to have a say as to who their judges are. Third, the bench should not be a destination for political payoffs from the governor’s office. Fourth, in counties the size of Harris, most voters do not know the individual candidates, and party affiliation can at least give the voter an idea of the attitude and dispositions of the whole slate of candidates, rather than enticing a vote for a common-sounding name. Fifth, non-partisan elections would allow smaller power groups to exert a disproportional (and dangerous) hold over judicial elections; Sixth, the political parties honestly make an effort to screen and recruit the most qualified candidates for the general election through the process of endorsements. Political “sweeps” can cause problems by removing some qualified judges, but most often they are replaced by others equally or more qualified. The parties themselves will often screen out unqualified candidates through various party group endorsements and primary contests. Ultimately, though, it is a good thing for a jurist to know he or she is answerable to the public for outrageous or substandard conduct.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
GG: First, it has been almost thirty (30) years since the creation of a felony court in Harris County, while the population (and dockets) have tripled and more. Paring state and county budgets by hampering the efficient administration of justice is unwise, but the norm. We need more courts but are not getting them. Second, it is important to implement a system of associate judges like that which exists in Fort Bend County, where those judges handle arraignment and other non-contested dockets and take pleas, leaving the presiding judge to conduct trial and deal with weightier issues. Third, connected to the foregoing issues is the issue of jail overcrowding in Harris County, a situation that immediately got worse after several democratic judges were defeated in 2012. This put several immediate ex-prosecutors on the bench, who have a “lock’em up” attitude. The more non-violent inmates who can be released on bond and hire their own attorneys, the more this county benefits administratively and monetarily. The jail space was saved for violent offenders who were a danger to themselves or others (the community). While I know you asked for just three important issue, there are a couple more, so here goes. Fourth, many Republican judges refuse to grant state jail credit for diligent participation which discourages good behavior in state jail and increases the expense to the state. Fifth, it is important to stop the appointment of inferior attorneys who get appointed only because they support the incumbent judges with sizable contributions. This displays a lack of integrity of many jurists, who refuse to adequately employ the resources of the Public Defenders’ Office for that very reason. Finally, having not been elected before, I have been unable to address any of these issues.

Texpatriate’s Questions for Kenneth Kendrick

Editorial note: This is the tenth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

Kenneth Kendrick, Green candidate for Agriculture Commissioner

Texpatriate: What is your name?
KK: Kenneth Kendrick

T: What office are you seeking?
KK: Texas Agriculture Commissioner.

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
KK: Proud to say none, nor do I intend to seek a higher office upon winning this one.

T: What is your political party?
KK: Green Party

T: What is your position on hemp production in Texas?
KK: Initially, before seeking office, I was not 100% sure I was for hemp production. Once I became a candidate and started really researching the subject, I am now 100% for the production of hemp and legalization of marijuana for several reasons.

1) It requires less water to grow than many other crops and we are in the middle of a drought, with many more to come due to climate change.

2) Many people have turned to using the deadly “synthetic pot” and have died or suffered permanent brain damage.

3) Hemp requires less pesticide that other crops, thus helping save water contamination.

4) Economically it would be a big boost to the Texas economy.

5) Legalization would reduce our overcrowded and expensive prison population, and make room for real criminals.

6) Recent studies aired on CNN and many other networks showed that states that have legalized pot have seen a reduction of pain killer overdoses, where they have never seen and over dose of marijuana.

T: What changes, if any, do you believe Texas should make to its School Lunch program?
KK: I would like for the schools to have more local control over the program and for them to “buy Texas” so to speak (meaning buy as much food as possible from Texas.) I would also like to see a much stronger focus on the nutrition education aspect of the Program.

T: What is your position on the ongoing efforts to improve water conservation in the State?
KK: I support the EPA’s plan on wetlands conservation (unlike the Republican Party) as this will ensure water for Central and West Texas, as the saying goes, “we all live down stream.”

Although many on the conservative side say that there land rights are being impeded as they own everything under their property, I find that does not make sense. For example the aquifer that waters the cotton where I live starts in Colorado, so using that logic, if the 1st person who owns land at the upper end of the aquifer wants to use all that water and leave nothing for downstream that would be OK under the Republican theory. Many cities have water conservation in place such as watering lawns only during late evening to early morning, which I believe should be statewide. I also support the Environment Texas legislative agenda (hyper linked) which has many real specific ideas. I also oppose hydraulic fracking as it both drains out water and pollutes our water.

T: What do you think the role of the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture should be?
KK: As this Department has 10 divisions, this is a multi-role Executive Branch position. The Commissioner’s role should include promoting what I would like to see as a “buy Texas” program as the Commissioner should be promoting buying Texas Agriculture products for economic development. The Commissioner also should ensure that the entire Dept (and should set the example) is fairly ensuring consumer protection in all weights and measures (such as gas pumps.) Current employees tell me this is not being done fairly depending on the size of the company! I will not list all 10 areas, but in Summary the Commissioner should be promoting Texas business, ensuring consumer protections, and leading Dept. employees to ensure the laws are enforced ethically.

T: What is one thing that you would continue over from Commissioner Todd Staples’ administration? What is one thing you would not or change?
KK: I believe the author meant for the 2nd part of the question to be what is the one thing you would not change? I disagree with Mr. Staples on many things, but I do like his Go Texan marketing program and would like to enhance or continue that marketing strategy.

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
KK: Well when it comes to Mr. Hogan, who knows? He has said very little to nothing and made a mockery of the office. Mr. Miller is talking about issues that have nothing to do with TDA. For example on his web site he proclaims “Fighting for families and religious freedoms Sid Miller cut $64 million dollars from Planned Parenthood and passed the Sonogram Bill. He also list “Protecting our 2nd amendment rights an avid rancher and hunter, Sid Miller believes in the Constitutional right to bear arms.” It does not matter if you agree or disagree with these issues; they have nothing to do with being AG Commissioner. I do not know if it is because he is seeking higher office, or if it is that Mr. Miller just wants to avoid dealing with the issues that are pertinent to the office. Why me? Unlike all my opponents, I do not own any business that would benefit me personally when elected (such as being a rancher,) Of course someone who owns a business wants to be the one in charge of the laws that over see that business. I am not a career Politian, I am known for my integrity as a Whistle Blower, and I will bring strong ethical values back to the office, and will not have any conflict of interest that would cloud my judgment as the Commissioner has to balance economic development with consumer protection. I am the only candidate talking about multiple issues that are relevant to the office. I also worked for the TX. Dept of Human Services for 8 year, working my way up to Assistant to the Program Manager. I have a better understanding on how to run a State agency than my opposition. I have also worked as a Pest Control Tech. and a Food Testing lab, areas my opposition is not as familiar with. It is one thing to own your own ranch, it is much different to head an executive branch agency.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
KK: 1) Food Safety – I want Texas to be known as the safest place for producers to buy from thus not only keeping people safe, but also increasing our economic viability.

2) Corporate Accountability- After Blowing the Whistle on Peanut Corp of America, it was discovered that 355 facilities had never registered with the Dept of Health, thus breaking the law, none were fined. All Agencies must work together to ensure this does not happen again (Peanut Corp had TX Dept of Ag Organic Certification, but was not even Registered with the Texas Dept. of Health. Had the Dept. of Ag had done its job properly on any one of its three inspections, lives would have been saved. Here is a Hyperlink to the Story.

3) Finding, stopping, and referring for prosecution those that commit fraud waste and abuse in both Government and Corporate settings. Employees will have an open door straight to me on that issue, and I have already heard plenty of employees tell me, in confidence, that these problems exist. As far as what I have done. Since being known as a Whistle Blower I have traveled the country with the Government Accountability Project speaking at Universities on Ethics and Whistle Blowing all over the country. I have tried to keep the public up to date via social media on food recalls, and worked closely with the FDA to ensure Peanut Corp of America went to trial.

Texpatriate’s Questions for Sam Houston

Editorial note: This is the ninth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

Sam Houston, Democratic candidate for Attorney General

Texpatriate: What is your name?
SH: Sam Houston

T: What office are you seeking?
SH: Attorney General

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
SH:
N/A

T: What is your political party?
SH: Democratic Party

T: What do you think of the effectiveness of suing the Federal Government? Is this a good or a bad thing in your opinion?
SH: The job of the Attorney General is to represent the people of Texas and to uphold the state constitution. I will vigorously defend our people and laws but sometimes a lawsuit is not the best solution.  Too many of these lawsuits drag on for months and years with no resolution in sight and are a drain on the Attorney General staff’s time and taxpayer dollars. I will work effectively to resolve issues, filing lawsuits only when necessary to protect the interests of the state of Texas.

T: How would you effectively go after deadbeat parents and other violators of Child Support laws in an efficient manner?
SH: While it is important to pursue Child Support violators, it is critical that we focus time and resources on getting the child support paid as well as punishing the violators.

T: What do you think the role of the Attorney General should be?
SH: The role of the Attorney General is to represent the people of Texas and to uphold the state constitution. The AG must have the trust of the people and should conduct all business in a transparent manner.  The AG should not use the office to protect members of a political party or to promote a political philosophy.  The AG must serve all the people, not just those of his/her political party.

T: What is one thing that you would continue over from General Greg Abbott’s administration? What is one thing you would not or change?
SH: One thing I would change is the AG’s ruling allowing the state Health Department to keep secret information about the storage of dangerous chemicals. That opinion is wrong. This information on chemicals stored at corporate facilities has been available for decades under state and federal law. I will act to put the safety of our families and children first and require that the state provide that information.

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
SH: I have 26 years as a partner in my own firm, Shepherd, Scott, Clawater & Houston.  I am an accomplished attorney and have ethically represented clients for years.  I have traveled across the state, visiting with Texans in large cities and small towns.  I have spoken to reporters, editors and editorial boards and will continue to do so for the duration of this campaign. My opponent Ken Paxton recently accepted a $1,000 fine for a violation from the Texas State Securities Board for selling securities for a firm without properly registering with the state, which is a felony. A complaint about this securities violation has been filed against Paxton with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office by a watchdog group.  Another watchdog group has filed a grievance against Paxton with the Texas State Bar, saying Paxton broke four ethics rules on conflict of interest. The Texas Attorney General must have the trust of the public.   The AG also must be transparent in all his efforts. Paxton has refused to speak to the media and answer questions about his ethics and possible criminal violations for more than four months.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
SH: The single most important issue in the race for Attorney General is the issue of trust and integrity.  As Attorney General, I will come to work every day and apply Texas values to meet the challenges of our great state.  I pledge to the people of Texas to be an Attorney General they can trust — an Attorney General with professional integrity.

Texpatriate’s Questions for John Whitmire

Editorial note: This is the eighth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

John Whitmire, State Senator

Texpatriate: What is your name?
JW: John Whitmire

T: How long have your held this post? What number term are you seeking?
JW: 31 years

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
JW: State Representative 1973-1983

T: What is your political party?
JW: Democrat

T: Please describe a bill that you have introduced, which has later become law. What did it accomplish, what were its purposes? If no such bill exists, please do the same for an amendment.
JW: SB 344 created a writ of habeas corpus review and authorized relief of a conviction based on faulty or discredited scientific evidence. This new law has led to hundreds of reviews of cases and many overturned convictions and is the now the model for the nation.

T: Please describe a bill that you have introduced this past session of the Legislature. What did it accomplish, what were its purposes?
JW: SB 825 starts the statute of limitations on cases of prosecutorial misconduct to coincide with the release of the wrongfully convicted. This legislation was based on the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton and affords those wrongfully convicted additional time to pursue a case of prosecutorial misconduct.

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
JW: Experience counts.

T: What role do you think a Texas Senator should have?
JW: Representing their constituents in Austin. Shaping public policy that benefits Texans. Giving a voice to those who don’t otherwise have one.

T: What is your opinion about the continued use (or non-use) of the 2/3rds rule in the Texas Senate?
JW: Strong defender of the Senate’s 2/3 rule.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
JW: Education – continue to fight for increased funding and equity in our public schools. Healthcare – promote increased funding for the elderly, disabled, and fragile and support efforts to expand Medicaid in Texas. Criminal Justice reform – continue to lead the fight to expand rehabilitation, treatment, and alternatives to prison. Successfully closed 3 prisons in Texas.

Texpatriate’s Questions for Herb Ritchie

Editorial note: This is the seventh in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

 Herb Ritchie

Herb Ritchie, Democratic candidate for the 263rd Criminal District Court

Texpatriate: What is your name?
HR: Herb Ritchie

T: What office are you seeking?
HR: Judge, 263rd Criminal District Court, Harris County, Texas.

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL (including all Judicial) offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
HR: Judge, 337th Criminal District Court, Harris County, Texas; January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2012.

T: What is your political party?
HR:Democrat.

T: What is a specific case in which you disagree with actions undertaken by the incumbent?
HR: Offenders serving a sentence for a state jail felony currently do not earn good conduct time for time served. However, as previous Judge of the 337th Criminal District Court, I told defendants at sentencing that I would award maximum diligent participation credit for diligent participation in programs such as work, education, and/or treatment. My rationale was that this would (1) save taxpayer money since less jail space would required; (2) encourage defendants to better themselves through education and treatment for substance abuse; (3) discourage inmate fighting and abuse toward jailers, lest the time credit be lost. The incumbent to my knowledge has not, and does not award diligent participation credit.

T: What is a contentious issue that you believe the Court will face in the near future? Why is it important? How would you solve it?
HR: The dockets in Harris County continue to grow larger each year with no additional courts being created to handle the ever burgeoning population. I will support requests for the creation of more criminal district courts. In the meantime, I will continue to work diligently, just as I did previously, to insure that every defendant receives a prompt, full and fair hearing and/or trial.

T: Do you believe that the incumbent has specifically failed at her or his job? If so, why?
HR: I think it is more appropriate to set forth the positives of my candidacy rather than to speak negatively of the incumbent. The voters will make this judgment in the upcoming election.

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
HR: My qualifications are as follows:

U.T. honor graduate (B.A. 1967, with honors; M.A. 1969; J.D. 1974, with honors); Phi Beta Kappa (Honorary Academics Achievement); Phi Delta Phi (Honorary Legal Achievement); Eta Sigma Phi (Honorary Classics Achievement); past teacher/instructor of Classics at U.T.-Austin and Baylor University; Teacher’s Award Mortgages; third highest grade, Texas Bar Examination; past counsel Texas Real Estate Commission and Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., past managing partner, Ritchie & Glass, Law Firm; experienced in both civil and criminal cases and appellate procedure; Board Certified in Criminal Law since 1987 by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; member: Houston Bar Association, College of the State Bar of Texas. Licensed to practice in all Texas Courts, Southern, Western and Eastern District of Texas, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and U.S. Supreme Court. Elected Judge 337th Criminal District Court, 2009-2012.

T: What role do you think a Criminal District Judge should have individually? What role do you think the Criminal District Courts should have as a whole?
HR: Individually a Criminal District Judge should exhibit patience, judicial temperament and demeanor. The role requires the highest degree of integrity and the treatment of all persons fairly, equally and respectfully. The Criminal District Courts as a whole should promote faith, confidence in and respect for the American criminal justice system.

T: What role do you believe a Judge should have in plea bargains? Do you think a Judge should ever veto an agreement between the District Attorney and Defense Attorneys?
HR: The Judge should normally let the attorneys for the State and defense agree upon the appropriate disposition of a case based upon the facts, evidence, and criminal history of the defendant. A Judge should veto a plea bargain only when there appears to be a miscarriage of justice, should the plea bargain be followed.

T: What role do you think that rehabilitation, rather than punishment, particularly for drug offenses, should have in the criminal justice process?
HR: For the non-violent drug offender, treatment is preferable to incarceration. This saves taxpayer money by reserving prison space for violent offenders such as rapists, child sex offenders, robbers, murderers, etc.

T: What are your thoughts on the partisan election of Judges?
HR: I believe in the partisan election of judges for the following reasons: (1) appointed judges are often likely to suffer from “black robe disease” or “robitis”, and even with retention elections, it can be difficult to dislodge an unfit, arrogant judge; (2) judges need to be accountable to the electorate rather than be chosen by a few political insiders; (3) in large counties such as Harris, it is impossible to know all the individual candidates, and party label often gives some clue about a candidate; (4) non-partisan elections are more likely to produce winners with common, familiar-sounding or likeable names; (5) the political parties themselves will often screen out unqualified candidates through various party group endorsements and primary contests. While some argue that appointed judges are less susceptible to political pressure, an elected judge of good character will follow the law and not succumb to political pressure or public clamor. I realize that sometimes political sweeps can remove from office some qualified judges, and install some less qualified jurists, but the reverse is also sometimes true. In short this is a difficult and perplexing question; the answer to which, reasonable minds may differ.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
HR: (1) The dockets in Harris county have exploded with the burgeoning population, and the last criminal district court in Harris County was created in 1985. I have advocated for the creation of additional courts, and also for the addition of court magistrates to hear uncontested pleas and other administrative matters in order that the elected judges can spend more time trying and disposing of contested cases. Additionally, when judge of the 337th Criminal District Court, I spent long hours on the bench whenever necessary to keep the docket as current as possible.

(2) Jail overcrowding is a serious and dangerous problem. As mentioned earlier, I would give diligent participation credit to state jail prisoners. Additionally, I would try to rehabilitate non-violent substance abuse offenders in appropriate cases. I had at one time, to the best of my knowledge, more defendants on probation and deferred adjudication than any other criminal district judge in Harris County. The jail space was saved for violent offenders who were a danger to the community.

(3) Effective representation of indigent defendants is a great concern, and I used the Harris County Public Defenders Office as much as possible. This would ensure that by and large the same resources would be available to the defense of the indigent as there would be for the prosecution. There needs to be a level playing field for justice to prevail.

Texpatriate’s Questions for Ken Wise

Editorial note: This is the sixth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

Ken Wise, Justice on the 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7

Texpatriate: What is your name?
KW: Justice Ken Wise

T: How long have your held this post? What number term are you seeking?
KW: I will have been in office over a year at the time of the election. I was appointed to this position in October, 2013 and am seeking my first full term.

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL (including all Judicial) offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
KW: Judge,152nd District Court: 2002-2008; Judge, 334th District Court: 2011-2013.

T: What is your political party?
KW: Republican

T: Please describe a majority or concurring opinion that you have written in the most recent term. What were the parameters of this case? Why did you come to your conclusion?
KW: I have written many opinions during my time on the Court. I always work to write opinions that are clear, thorough and easy to understand and apply. Each opinion gets my full effort, no matter the size of the case or the status of the parties.

T: Please describe a dissenting opinion that you have written in the most recent term. What were the parameters of this case? Why did you come to your conclusion and disagree with the majority?
KW: I have yet to dissent from an opinion of a panel to which I’ve been assigned.

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
KW: The most important quality of a good appellate justice is experience. I have over ten years of experience as a judge. My opponent has no judicial experience and has not, to my knowledge, even practiced law.

T: What role do you think a Justice of the Court of Appeals should have individually? What role do you think the Court of Appeals should have as a whole?
KW: An individual justice should be thoroughly prepared when participating on his or her panel. The justice should review opinions carefully before voting. The Court as a whole has a responsibility to rule promptly, which is the reputation of the 14th Court of Appeals.

T: What are your thoughts on the partisan election of Judges?
KW: Partisan election is the way the legislature has decided judges should be selected. As the law of the State I support it. I also very much enjoy discussing my service with the voters and being accountable to the citizens. There are challenges with such a system, of course, but as long as it is the law of the State of Texas I will be a willing participant.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
KW: During the entirety of my judicial service I have had multiple opportunities to serve in leadership roles. I co-chaired a State Bar of Texas task force that conducted the first top-to-bottom study of the Texas court system since 1894. I was in charge of the judicial committee overseeing the construction of the first new civil courthouse in Harris County in over 100 years. I served as the Local Administrative Judge, overseeing the state district judiciary in the third largest county in the United States. In these and other leadership roles I have had the opportunity to address a tremendous number of issues including infrastructure, juvenile justice, judicial administration, technology and many others. I’m tremendously proud of my service to date and look forward to the opportunity to serve the citizens of Texas into the future.

Texpatriate’s Questions for David Collins

Editorial note: This is the fifth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

David Collins, Green candidate for Harris County Judge

Texpatriate: What is your name?
DC: David B. Collins

T: What office are you seeking?
DC: Harris County Judge

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL (including all Judicial) offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
DC: None.

T: What is your political party?
DC: Green Party of Texas.

T: What do you think the role of the County Judge should be?
DC: The role depends greatly on the size and character of the county. In Harris County, the Judge should hear the reports of Commissioners and their staffs on the needs of each precinct, assess those needs in light of county resources, and evaluate proposed solutions to meet those needs. I would prefer that the County Judge vote in Commissioners Court sessions only as a tie-breaker. One part the County Judge should notplay is greasing the skids for real estate developers, which is something Harris County Judges have done for longer than I can remember.

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
DC: Since Democratic candidate Ahmad Hassan has dropped out of the race, and there is no Libertarian candidate, my only opponent is Republican incumbent Ed Emmett, whom I respect. Judge Emmett is one of the few Republican office-holders who don’t turn my stomach: He is more of a pragmatist than an ideologue, and he handled his toughest test (Hurricane Ike) with compassion and courage.

However, Harris County needs a candidate who will advocate strongly for developing clean, renewable energy and public transportation that serves working people. Also, since Harris County is notorious worldwide the death penalty capital of the West, I would encourage the District Attorney’s office to continue the current decrease in pursuit of death sentences, which is not a result of policy change so much as the cost of prosecuting capital cases.

T: What is a specific proposal the incumbent has made in the last term before the Commissioner’s Court that you disagree with?
DC: Our Commissioners Court proceedings are not exactly transparent and don’t get much coverage in local media, so that’s hard to pinpoint. It’s ridiculous how much power five people have over the lives of 4 million-plus, without those 4 million-plus knowing what goes on in the CC. It’s not so much Judge Emmett’s proposals that I disagree with as the lack of sunshine at the county level, even for residents of unincorporated areas who have no city government. I would work to change that.

T: Do you believe that the incumbent has specifically failed at her or his job? If so, why?
DC: I don’t.

T: What, exactly, is your plan regarding the Astrodome?
DC: Something similar to that proposed by Astrodome Tomorrow: Save the structure, and turn it into a tourist destination that integrates well with the surrounding Reliant Park complex.

T: What relationship do you believe that County should have with the City of Houston, other municipalities and the State?
DC: The tradition of home rule for counties in Texas is a mixed blessing, but I would like to see it continue. Houston may dominate the landscape of Harris County, but the two governments have no reason to merge a la Miami-Dade; they can continue to work together on projects such as Metro. We can work with Dallas County—and possibly Bexar, Travis, and Tarrant Counties—on connecting the state’s four largest metro areas with high-speed rail. Mostly, I would like to see regular meetings of the commissioners’ courts of the 13 metro-Houston counties, as equals regardless of population, to establish regional policies on protecting our natural heritage and creating incentives for businesses, farms, and residences to collect their own solar and wind power—although I have little faith that the Republicans who dominate the various county CC’s would go for any of that.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
DC: “Have done”? The wording of this question appears to be meant for the incumbent. However…

Since issues are interconnected, it is difficult to isolate three as most important. As far as County government is concerned, I could say, “Transportation, energy, and environmental protection,” but these three are facets of the same larger issue, which includes the notion of Smart Growth.

The Green Party believes strongly in encouraging multi-modal transportation options; the city and Metro are moving forward on making this a reality with Metro’s “reimagining” and the city’s Complete Streets initiative. However, the rest of the county outside Metro’s service area still leaves non-motorists out of the picture. Pasadena, Texas, is one of America’s largest cities with no public transit; it’s time for that to change. Let’s look into making FM 1960 and Louetta Road friendlier to cyclists and pedestrians, or expanding Metro’s service area to include more of Copperfield.

The refineries along the Ship Channel have essentially been given a 45-year exemption from Clean Air Act compliance. It is in the interest of health and safety for the entire region, but especially fenceline communities, that we use both carrot and stick to bring the energy companies into line. Despite our recent “coolest city” designations, no sensible person wants to relocate to a city or county with such ridiculously high rates of asthma and cancer. Most people who move here do so out of necessity, then find that they have to drive everywhere and pollute the air even more. Where does it end? I hope it ends with county governments finding and implementing solutions. One solution would be to retrofit those facilities and retrain workers toward the manufacture of solar collectors and windmills; this would take decades, but would be an essential step toward cutting atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases that drive climate change.

Honorable mention for issues of importance goes to housing. Too much recent development has been profit-driven to excess, such as knocking down older single-family and duplex housing in Inner-Loop Houston, which is suitable housing stock for young workers and students, to replace it with luxury lofts and mid-rises. The County should require developers to devote a reasonable percentage of their capital toward building truly affordable and durable housing for low- and middle-income residents, including the use of as much recycled material as practical.