Houston Voter Guide 2019: City Council At-Large Position 1 candidates

Four challengers are running against incumbent Mike Knox for At-Large Position 1 on Houston City Council.

Community Impact Newspaper invited candidates to provide the responses below to help voters weigh their options. All candidates are listed below in the order they will appear on the ballot. Responses may have been edited for length.

Mike Knox

Occupation/experience: Former HPD, Currently An Author and Consultant on Street Gangs and Violent Youth
Website: www.mikeknox.org

Georgia Provost
Occupation/experience: Business Owner, Professional Photographer, Consummate Community Volunteer. In 2015 I was a candidate for City Council At-Large Position 1. With nine in the race, I was in the run-off and lost with 81,507 votes, with the Houston Chronicle endorsement.
Website: not provided

Raj Salhotra
Occupation/experience: I am a lawyer by training. I spent time at Baker Botts before taking a deferral to run for Houston City Council. Before law school, I was a teacher and ran an educational mentorship non-profit called Students With Ambition Go (SWAG) To College. I have experience interning for both Councilmember Steve Costello and Mayor Turner's Office of Economic Development.
Website: www.rajforhouston.com

Yolanda Navarro Flores
Occupation/experience: Attorney, former State Representative and Trustee, Houston Community College Board of Trustees
Website: Not provided

Larry Blackmon
Occupation/experience: Teacher (retired), I have served on the City of Houston's Boards and Commissions for 10 yrs. Industrial, Health Facilities and Higher Education
Website: Not provided

What issues do you want to be a lead advocate on?
Knox: Creating a sustainable, fiscally sound budget

Provost: I will bring my magnifying glasses to review the city programs, policies and budget. Drainage, infrastructure, transportation and homelessness. Employees/Municipal, Police and Fire be paid fairly.
Education and Crime. Houston is 183 years old, with real problems, need real solutions and I am the real person for City Council At-Large Position 1.

Salhotra: I want to be a lead advocate on drainage and flood mitigation, quality of life (public transit, walkability) and economic opportunity (affordable housing, homelessness, after-school and summer programs).

Flores: Selecting one issue is difficult. Flooding is a major issue with which I am concerned in addition to the safety of our city, fire and police, infrastructure and transportation.

Blackmon: Flooding: The City of Houston must develop a Comprehensive Flood Plan in order to properly address the needed infrastructure and Lift stations to direct and redirect water to pinpoint areas of detention, retention and flow to surrounding counties tributaries This plan would include computer generated sensors for activation.
Medical Corridors:Expand Seniors and Youths Support Services benefiting medical attention closer to them and reduction in response time for First Responders
Increase Economic Development Participation
Improve Community Infrastructure

What role will you play in improving Houston's budgeting and fiscal planning?
Knox: I will continue to press for zero based budgeting practices and more transparent processes regarding city contracts.

Provost: Did not respond.

Salhotra: I will: (1) review the budget line-by-line to identify opportunities to save money; (2) examine partnerships between the City and County that can save money; (3) study other cities to determine examples of cost-savings.

Flores: Our form of city government that requires the Mayor to present the budget and the council members have the opportunity to advocate for changes in the budget. I will scrutinize budget allocations and remain fiscally responsible.

Blackmon: Currently the City of Houston's budget is 4.8$ billion with a revenue cap. As your next City Councilman I will lobby in Austin and Washington for the the to get more State and Federal dollars to address flooding, infrastructure and cadet training for police and fire departments.

What is your take on improving mobility in the city?
Knox: I am open to alternative forms of mobility, but believe we can work with METRO to improve the ride-ability of the bus systems in the short term

Provost: Did not respond.

Salhotra: 35% of Houstonians identify traffic as the number one issue facing Houston and Houstonians annually spend an average of 73 hours sitting in traffic. We need to pass METRO Next which will expand light rail to Hobby airport, BRT to Bush airport, community connector buses for the first/last mile, and increase local and express buses. Moreover, we should improve walkability and bikeability by embracing Vision Zero.

Flores: We must study transportation advancements in other cities. Transportation concerns, not only the amount of amount of time1 that people lose while sitting in traffic also affects the climate.
1. Houston area commuters waste 75 hours — almost two full work weeks — annually as a result of roadway congestion, according to an updated Urban Mobility Report, released by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Blackmon: Suspension railway is less intrusive to the environment, aesthetic, quieter, fast, efficient comparatively minimum maintenance and upkeep.

By Matt Dulin

Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


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