“I’ve been to some Kingwood Democrats [meetings] before and I’ll tell you, this is a record,” said Houston Mayor Bill White last Wednesday. White’s remark, delivered with a smile, followed his comments on the record turnout of Primary voters. White addressed an unusually large group of Kingwood Area Democrats, some still weary from Election Day activities, concerning the state of the City. “The state of the City is good,” said White, adding that a quarter of a million new jobs have been added in the last four years. He spoke optimistically about the coming elections and new sense of hope that seems apparent among the record numbers of voters. “I think there’s a sense of possibility in America ... and it’s a great time to live in Houston.” PUBLIC SAFETY White said that public safety has seen a 9 percent improvement since he took office, but cautioned that there was still much work to be done. He said that there are still plenty of people who prey on the vulnerable and that building up the police force is top priority. “We just swore in 50 new recruits,” said White. Drainage He said that drainage, particularly in the Medical Center, has been a big problem, but much work has been done and the budget for drainage improvement has increased since he took office, from $15 million to $55 million per year. “And we’ve done that without raising property taxes,” said White. RECREATION The City’s acquisition of Lake Houston State Park was a subject of pride and planning for the mayor. White said that the 4,800-acre park would be improved and enjoyed by all, adding that it would be the largest and only wilderness park of its kind in any major U.S. City. He said that $5 million in funding would be put into the park over the next five years. CLEANER AIR White also addressed the issue of air pollution, a matter on the minds of many Texans as the state was recently named the largest carbon-polluter in the nation, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. White said that the City would be coming down hard on air-polluting industries that break the rules, adding that the threat of lawsuits from the City has already seen a positive impact in the reduction of certain “deadly carcinogen” emissions. “We understand in the City now, that clean air is good for business,” said White. He added that the City was also making plans for building codes for energy-efficient buildings. He said that with the participation of more environmentally-conscious Houstonians, much could be accomplished toward cleaning the air without “compromising our standard of living.” FOR KINGWOOD Closer to home, White touched on the new library and community center coming to Kingwood in the near future. White said that the new 30,000-square-foot library would be open and modern, with many new computers. He said it was expected to be heavily utilized by Kingwood residents and compared it to the Clear Lake Library, but larger. The new community center, said White, will be built in the location of the former Kingwood Library after the new library is complete. OPTIMISM AND HUMOR White closed his speech with the same upbeat tone with which he opened it, saying, “A special thing is happening in Houston today ... if you work hard and you play by the rules, you are a Houstonian.” White said that the statement was true for all residents regardless of race, religion or country of origin. He said that he really felt the change at a recent public appearance in Kingwood, as his comment drew a roar of laughter from the group. “You know there’s been a big change when the Mayor of Houston could actually walk in a Kingwood parade and get applause.”

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