Political forum allows officals to update constituents Kingwood Country Club hosted a political forum last week that offered addresses by five different officials. Billed as the “State of the Union, State, County and City,” club members and the public met at the Deerwood Club to hear from Congressman Ted Poe , State Sen. Tommy Williams, State Rep. Dan Huberty, Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan and Houston City Councilmember Stephen Costello. A sold-out crowd gathered to hear the gentlemen give brief updates about their purviews, and topics ranged from Libya to Lake Houston. Moderated by Tribune owner Cynthia Calvert, Poe spoke first. “The U.S. government takes in $5 billion a day, a day, in revenue,” Poe said, “and it spends $9 billion. Every day. It doesn’t take much to see where this is headed.” Poe addressed the fact that some see the financial answer as raising more money, especially from the nation’s small businesses and individual taxpayers. “I’m the kind of guy who thinks we should lower the $9 billion. Spend less.” Poe said it was obvious from the very start that terrorists in Libya had chosen the anniversary of 9/11 as a test of Americans. “The recent murders were a test of us, just as the original 9/11 was a test. I believe we need to hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice. Not go to war with these countries, but to bring the individuals to justice.” Poe also spoke about the fact that he and many other Congressmen work in a bipartisan way to bring about progress. He named several examples of bipartisan efforts, on topics such as victims’ rights to the nation’s ports as examples of rarely-mentioned efforts as political cooperation. Tommy Williams, state senator for District 7, gave an update of the upcoming Legislature. Williams, recently named as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, promised that state revenues will be higher than projected, up to $4 billion more. But, he warned, all that surplus will go to Medicaid demands. Texas, he said, is better equipped to manage the healthcare needs of its citizens than bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. He said it is crucial to have a Republican in the White House, someone who will understand and protect the needs of Texas. Williams also said that last summer’s drought emphasized the state’s water issues. Lake Houston remains a focal point for him and other lawmakers as it is the primary source of drinking water for the city. Huberty, state representative of District 127, spoke about public education in Texas. One of 11 members of the House Public Education committee said he is the only member whose children attend public schools. On the radar, Huberty said, is less testing days for Texas schoolchildren (now at 38 of 177 school days) and addressing the falling graduation rates and the ill-prepared students who do graduate. Equity in education funding is the biggest looming topic and Huberty pointed out that the school districts in Texas combined have more money in their rainy-day funds than the State of Texas does in its accounts. Ryan spoke at length about the efficiency of the County. He said the County officials work well together and praised Precinct 4’s Commissioner Jack Cagle and Constable Ron Hickman. Ryan brought materials with general information for those who have questions or need help from county offices. Costello is an at-large council member, one of five. An engineer, Costello focuses on water infrastructure and flooding issues – both of which are concerns in Houston. Costello urged those present to vote for all the city bonds on the ballot, saying “their passage will not raise tax rates although they will raise the debt service rate slightly.” He said that calling your councilmember for assistance is the first place to begin with a problem, but that at-large councilmembers should be contacted, too. They also represent all Houstonians. The crowd seemed to appreciate the brisk pace of the evening and burst into applause at the end. This was a first for the Country Club as no political forums have been organized by the members previously. Social Chairman Cheryl “CJ” Johnson was the evening’s organizer and received praise for creating the event and bringing together such an impressive array of elected officials. Photo: Five elected officials gathered last week to address current topics. Left to right, back row: Ted Poe, Tommy Williams, Dan Huberty and Stephen Costello. Vince Ryan, front. Photo by Larry Shiflet

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