Houston Voter Guide: City Council At-Large Position 5 candidates

0

Council Member Jack Christie is term-limited and leaves At-Large Position 5 to an open field of nine contenders.

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.

Candidates J. Brad Batteau and Ashton P. Woods did not respond to requests to participate.

Ralph “Rafa” Garcia

Occupation/experience: Marketing
Website: www.facebook.com/rafafor5/

What issues do you want to be a lead advocate on?
Crime

What role will you play in improving Houston’s budgeting and fiscal planning?
Permanent solutions Redistribution and reduction of excess.

What is your take on improving mobility in the city?
“combie” systems……micro routing…..spawning….tax or fuel credits

Catherine Garcia Flowers

Catherine Garcia Flowers

Catherine Garcia Flowers

Occupation/experience: I have over 25 years of public service experience. I am the CEO of Bread of Life, Inc., a disaster relief organization, and General Manager of Amazing 102.5 FM. I am Houston’s lead consultant for the Mom’s Clean Airforce (MCA) national climate change campaign of more than 1 million moms ensuring Congress adopts 100% clean energy by 2050. Under Mayor Annise Parker, I created the Department of Neighborhoods. After Hurricane Katrina, I represented and served as the only point of contact in Houston for the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana as Director of Governmental and Community Affairs for the Lieutenant Governor of LA. As the CRA Officer/ Vice President for Capital One Bank, I created affordable housing and managed a philanthropy budget that invested in community development infrastructure in the greater Houston market. I helped to lead the first education campaign for the Affordable Care Act, called Be Covered, that increased the number of insured citizens in TX by more than 50%. I have served on numerous boards and commissions that created national and statewide policies that affect the quality of life for families.
Website: www.flowersforhouston.com

What issues do you want to be a lead advocate on?
1. Sustainable core services: flooding infrastructure, clean water and air, and efficient policing. 2. Affordable housing and homelessness. 3. Cultural economy and small business development.

What role will you play in improving Houston’s budgeting and fiscal planning?
I will improve Houston’s budgeting and fiscal planning by generating revenue for the city and creating jobs through the development of its cultural economy, in which the city creates studios, venues, hosts award shows, produces festivals and invests in maintaining artists, creators and innovators here in Houston.

What is your take on improving mobility in the city?
I will work with Metro to advocate for the demands of constituents to expand the city’s public transportation services, as well as direct the budget toward improving sidewalks, curbs, street conditions and increasing bike lanes. Additionally, I will run an educational campaign on pedestrian, bike and vehicle laws supplemented by increased signage to ensure transportation efficiency and safety.

Eric Dick

Occupation/experience: I’m a homeowner’s insurance lawyer, radio personality, and HCDE trustee.
Website: www.feeding.rocks

What issues do you want to be a lead advocate on?
I will be a watch dog of our resources and an advocate for humanitarian issues. It is possible to be both frugal and compassionate. I’ve previously advocated against the charitable feeding ban and deceptive language used when expanding term limits.

What role will you play in improving Houston’s budgeting and fiscal planning?
Advocating to stop corruption and pay-to-play schemes that plague our city.

What is your take on improving mobility in the city?
I support public transportation but at a fair market value cost. Currently, we are paying $3,000 an inch for light rail!

Sonia Rivera

Occupation/experience: Consultant, Entrepreneur, Business Development, Construction
Website: www.soniarivera4houston.com

What issues do you want to be a lead advocate on?
Fiscal Responsibility and transparency across all City Departments, Streamlining departmental operations to reduce wasteful spending, improve efficiency, and improve constituent services., Work to ensure that Harvey recovery efforts are moving along expeditiously and in a fiscally responsible manner. Work to eliminate bureaucracy and red tape in order to keep flood mitigation projects moving along on schedule and under budget, work to implement smart city options when approving future development to prevent future mobility issues.

What role will you play in improving Houston’s budgeting and fiscal planning?
I will fight for a fiscally sound city by working with other leaders to ensure we operating efficiently, I will fight to implement accountability measures to promote efficient departmental operations reducing wasteful spending, in addition to implementing accountability measures on contracts to ensure contractors do their due diligence to complete projects on time and within budgets. I will work with departments and city fiscal agents to ensure we maintain transparency in city expenditures.

What is your take on improving mobility in the city?
Houston continues to see rapid increase in population, and increase congestion exacerbating existing traffic congestion, parking, and mobility issues. We need to identify strategies that are working in other cities and determine their efficacy in Houston. We cannot continue to conduct new development without determining its impact on current and future mobility and addressing appropriately.

Michelle Bonton

Occupation/experience: I am a veteran educator and entrepreneur. I have about 30 years experience in advocacy and community engagement and about 6 years experience in specific political advocacy and engagement
Website: www.michellebonton.org

What issues do you want to be a lead advocate on?
Flood Relief Funding, Equitable Criminal Justice (Ban the Box), Liveable Wages, and Sustainable Communities

What role will you play in improving Houston’s budgeting and fiscal planning?
I will work to ensure that the budgeting process integrates measures of equity in allocation of city resources and supports, while at the same time remaining fiscally responsible and ensuring we establish a sustainable spending plan that will position the city for future success.

What is your take on improving mobility in the city?
Broad question, but, the mobility needs to be improved, there are various strategies that can and should be considered and improving mobility will improve traffic flow problems.

Sallie Alcorn

Occupation/experience: I have over 13 years experience in local government. I’ve worked in the city’s housing and community development department, as agenda director to a district council member, as chief of staff to both a district and at-large council member, and as an aide to the city’s flood czar. I’ve worked on a broad range of issues including city finances, infrastructure, transportation, housing, and economic development.
Website: www.salliealcorn.com

What issues do you want to be a lead advocate on?
Drainage and flood mitigation – keep water out of people’s homes in every neighborhood across the city and ensure the responsible and efficient spending of Harvey recovery dollars.
Transportation – make it easier and safer to get around. This means more transportation options, less congestion, and safer, well-maintained roads for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
City finances – the city must live within its means, spend wisely, and plan for the future.

What role will you play in improving Houston’s budgeting and fiscal planning?
I will be intent on advancing efforts to put Houston on a sound financial footing. I plan to lead on implementing cost-saving recommendations found in the city’s PFM 10-year financial plan. I will advocate for procurement reform, zero-based/outcome-based budgeting, sharing services with Harris County, strategic departmental reviews/audits, consolidation of back office functions, and addressing liabilities associated with deferred maintenance of city facilities and retiree health benefits.

What is your take on improving mobility in the city?
I will engage with city and county leaders in the region, Metro, and TxDOT to advance a multimodal “more than just cars” approach. Houston needs everything to help relieve stress on streets and freeways—cars, buses, bus rapid transit, light rail, commuter rail, pedestrian, bicycle, ride share, and autonomous vehicles. We need more attractive, convenient, and faster connections between major activity centers—get people where they need to go quicker and with less hassle.

Marvin McNeese

Marvin McNeese

Marvin McNeese Jr.

Occupation/experience: “I have been preparing for public service since my youth. I have a master’s degree in public administration and public policy from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin, a master’s in Latin American Studies, and a Ph.D. in political science from Rice University. I have taught American and Texas Politics for 13 years at the College of Biblical Studies here in Houston. I have volunteered actively in my Third Ward neighborhood since 2004.
Yet my real value is my problem-solving skills. I’m really good at solving problems. I’m typically able to identify a problem, ingest large volumes of information about it, tie relevant pieces to timeless principles, and persuade and organize people towards a solution. A good example is my current house. Though we could have purchased a house anywhere in Houston, my wife and I chose to buy from Guiding Light CDC of New Guide Missionary Baptist Church, in Third Ward. The purchase demolished a neighborhood crack house and delivered $12,000 in profit to the CDC. Plus, as the CDC’s first homebuyer, we paved the way for the future development of over 30 other houses in the neighborhood.”
Website: www.marvinmcneese.com

What issues do you want to be a lead advocate on?
• Solving More Crimes. While HPD reports solving just under 7 out of every 10 homicides, we solve only 4 out of 10 cases of other violent crimes, and only 1 out of 10 cases property crimes. In all our budgeting negotiations, we need to prioritize getting more police officers, and more assigned to crime investigation. We don’t need to take them off patrol; the Dayton shooter was diffused within 1 minute because officers were on patrol. We need more investigators so we can chase down all the crime evidence produced by today’s cell-phone and security-system enabled surveillance.
• Rain-related Natural Disaster. Houston Flood Czar Steve Costello was recently quoted as saying that we are no better prepared for a major flood event than when Harvey hit two years ago. We are in an emergency situation with flooding and need to move much faster to complete the bayou drainage improvements than our normal governmental procedures typically do.

What role will you play in improving Houston’s budgeting and fiscal planning?
Business leaders calculate profit by generating revenues from customers at a minimal cost to the company. Government and nonprofit managers have to do the same. They too have to track of how they are meeting clients’ needs and at what cost. Though the City has many measures of client services, it does not know the costs of providing each unit of service. This makes it harder to prioritize among client services or different operating procedures. I will work to discover the unit costs of each City service so that we can improve operations in between (not just at the end of) budget cycles, and can make the apple-to-apples comparisons necessary to prioritize certain City services over others.

What is your take on improving mobility in the city?
I take an “all of the above” approach to mobility. I reluctantly accept the TxDOT reliance on highways, tollways and more highways, welcome BikeHouston’s recommendations for adding sidewalks and bikeways, and will support METRO’s efforts towards Bus-Rapid Transit. I also favor shortening commutes by motivating workers to relocate to the neighborhoods located near Downtown and the Medical Center. Less crime (mentioned above) and more affordable housing (which the City can do through revenues from its own TIRZ’s and from HUD) and would provide this motivation.

Share this story
COMMENT

Leave A Reply

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