ELECTION Q&A: Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner candidates discuss flooding, traffic and other issues

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Two candidates are running for Harris County Precinct 4 commissioner this November, which covers portions of Cy-Fair, Spring, Klein and Tomball, Humble and The Woodlands. Community Impact Newspaper asked candidates for their thoughts on flood control, traffic and challenges facing the precinct.

Jack Cagle
Party affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Harris County commissioner, Precinct 4
Experience:
Judge, Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 1 (2000-2011); staff litigation counsel, Probate Court No. 3.; associate judge, 311th Family District Court;
private law practice (1986-2000)

Top priorities:
Our top priorities are public safety and preparing for population growth.

Contact information:
713-838-8553
www.commissionerjackcagle.com

1. What do you see as the most critical project or initiative to prevent future flooding in the precinct?
Wherever the water falls, it always flows downhill. The voters recently overwhelmingly approved the $2.5 billion flood control bond. I will ensure those dollars are spent according to the comprehensive flood plan laid out in our over 24 public meetings. These projects, no matter which precinct or area they are in, will help decrease flooding countywide by increasing water drainage and flow.

2. Aside from flooding, what is the biggest challenge facing the precinct? How would you address that challenge?
Parts of Precinct 4 are expected to double within the next 15 years. We must prepare for this growth with adequate mobility, flood protection, green space arrangements and park space for our residents. I have, am and shall continue to strategically prepare the precinct for the next generation.

3. How should the county address increasing traffic on roads with its limited revenue sources?
While I have been commissioner, we have been engaged in a strategic road planning process through our capital improvement program. As funding becomes available, we process new roads through four Phases. P1: preplanning and study phase (8 percent); P2: planning and road design phase (7 percent); P3: preparation phase which includes utility relocation and right of way acquisition (20 percent); and P4: the construction phase (65 percent). Utilizing this framework has been an effective tool in efficiently stretching every county dollar allotted towards mobility.

Penny Shaw
Party affiliation: Democrat

Occupation:
Attorney

Experience: Attorney, 18 years; business owner, 25 years; U.S. Congressional legislative advocate, six years; mother of four; legislative committee chairwoman
Top priorities: flood prevention and preparedness; transparent county spending and reporting; pay and gender equity

Contact information:
713-493-4688
www.votepennyshaw.com

1. What do you see as the most critical project or initiative to prevent future flooding in the precinct? Create and fund an expert-based comprehensive county-wide flood prevention plan that addresses the 23 watersheds and considers water conveyance from the surrounding counties and reveal it to the public. Obtaining federal cooperation for additional reservoir; repairing the existing reservoirs to raise them to a safe standard; and constant maintenance and clearing of waterways to increase capacity and conveyance. Ensure safe and sustainable building, expansion and economic development.

2. Aside from flooding, what is the biggest challenge facing the precinct? How would you address that challenge? According to the county, the budget—a lack of funds to address the widespread needs of the county-governed and funded projects. Initiate a county budget audit and overview of spending to expertly determine where there is necessary adjustment and best practices for creating increased partnerships to address unmet needs throughout Harris County and especially in the unincorporated areas where rapid growth is taking place.

3. How should the county address increasing traffic on roads with its limited revenue sources? Introduce innovative and feasible traffic reduction practices. Strategically distant road improvement and expansion projects to ensure spread out and regional blockages; economically expand and promote mass transit; metro rail and metro mover projects to serve large corporate campuses with shared partnership stakeholder and corporate funding. Incentivize use of car-sharing such as Zip Car and carpooling. Better expansion planning to avoid foreseeable traffic clustering.

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Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of the paper in March 2017.
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