Candidate forum held at Lone Star College-Kingwood
- Written by Anne McIlhany
With Houston city elections just around the corner, any issues or challenges facing the city are at the forefront of voter’s minds. Views, goals and promises must be presented by the candidates, with the deciding factors then left squarely in the voters hands. It was in this spirit that the Kingwood Super Neighborhood Council (SNC) sponsored a candidate forum for City of Houston mayoral and City Council candidates last week at Lone Star College-Kingwood, allowing voters to learn about the candidates and consider their views and goals for the city. Members of the community were asked to submit suggested questions through the Kingwood SNC Web site prior to the forum, and candidates were given time to express their goals and views on current issues facing Houston and Kingwood. The event began with a half-hour “meet and greet” for the candidates, with the question and answer session starting at 7 p.m. Cynthia Calvert, owner and publisher of The Tribune Newspapers, moderated the forum. The forum began with brief introductions of Houston mayoral candidates Gene Locke, Dan Cupp, Roy Morales and Peter Brown, followed by a session of questions. When asked what the number one problem facing Houston would be in the next two years, the candidate’s answers were varied. According to Cupp, the main problem is illegal immigration; Morales stated that the economy was the main challenge; Brown and Locke both spoke of toughening up on crime. Following the mayoral session, three candidates for city controller were introduced: M.J. Khan, Ronald Green and Pam Holm. All three spoke of the necessity of eliminating waste in the city budget. Khan maintained that government should be limited and exists to serve the people; Green stated that the city controller should have the experience necessary to get money for the city from the federal government; Holm stated that the city controller position is accountable only to the citizens, and that the position required someone to be a “watchdog” on behalf of the people. Houston City Council At-Large candidates next took center stage, and included Curtis Garmon, Brad "Jay" Batteau, Don Cook, Andrew Burks, Jack Christie, Karen Derr, Deborah Shafto, C.O. Bradford, Noel Freeman and Dr. Davetta Daniels. Garmon spoke out against red-light cameras, and his goal to eliminate city property taxes; Batteau spoke of reducing property taxes; Cook expressed a desire to curb pollution and improve transportation; Burks stated his goals to reduce crime and increase jobs; Christie’s goals include tackling the causes of crime, rather than the symptoms; Derr’s key issues include reducing drop-out rates in schools, and de-centralizing government; Shafto spoke of transportation and public safety; Bradford wants to give citizens and businesses relief from regulations and promotes tax relief as well; Freeman is concerned with flooding and infrastructure improvement; Daniels spoke of creating employment opportunities and improving the city’s infrastructure. Wrapping up the evening’s forum were candidates for Houston City Council District E, incumbent Mike Sullivan and his challenger, Wayne Garrison. Garrison was up first to express his views and goals for district E. He discussed the importance of relieving traffic congestion and increasing mobility, increasing drainage and reducing flooding, and providing police and fire departments with the staffing and resources they need to operate effectively. He spoke of being pro-business, and using his talents as an attorney in building relationships to accomplish his goals. Sullivan spoke of the accomplishments he has delivered while serving as the current district E council member. “Promises made, promises kept” is a key point he made; from public safety (adding resources and staffing for local police and fire stations), to improving water quality, reducing wasteful spending, and bringing tax dollars to the district through projects such as the new library and plans for new community centers. Asked what single issue they thought would most benefit Kingwood, Sullivan spoke of having a fiscally sound city, and as an example shared how he voted against the city budget because it used money that the city does not currently have and because it cut police cadet classes and overtime. Garrison’s main issue for Kingwood was public safety, and he reiterated his goals to provide police and fire departments with appropriate staffing and resources. Both candidates were given the opportunity to share concluding statements, and Garrison spoke first. “I have a plan for traffic, a plan for flooding and a plan for more police and fire support,” said Garrison. “We need to be more efficient and have more accountability and accessibility. You will always be able to find Wayne Garrison.” Sullivan underscored his experience and track record. “Being a council member is something I take very seriously. I have not missed a single council meeting, and I work hard seven days a week,” he said. “I have a proven track record, and am endorsed by Tommy Williams (state senator), Ron Hickman (Precinct 4 constable), Houston Police Officers Union, Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association (local 341), and more. I’d like to have your vote again and come back and serve you two more years.” For more information about the Kingwood Super Neighborhood Council, visit www.kingwoodsnc.com/. For more information about the upcoming election on Nov. 3, visit www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/index.shtml. PHOTO: Houston mayoral candidates discuss current issues at the recent forum hosted by the Kingwood Super Neighborhood Council.