Houston Runoff Voter Guide 2019: City Council District C candidate Q&A's

Houston City Council District C Candidates
Abbie Kamin (left) faces Shelley Kennedy in the 2019 runoff for Houston City Council District C. (Courtesy photos)

Abbie Kamin (left) faces Shelley Kennedy in the 2019 runoff for Houston City Council District C. (Courtesy photos)

Over a dozen candidates ran to represent Houston City Council District C in the November general election, and now the top two finishers, Abbie Kamin and Shelley Kennedy, are headed to a runoff. After eight years in office, Mayor Pro Tem and District C representative Ellen Cohen has reached her term limit. Community Impact Newspaper contacted each candidate with questions about their campaign priorities for the district, which covers parts of Northwest Houston, the Heights, Montrose and Meyerland. Responses may have been edited for length.

Early voting takes place Nov. 27 and Dec. 2-10. Election day is Dec. 14.

Abbie Kamin

Website: www.abbiekamin.com

Occupation/experience: As a civil rights attorney and neighborhood advocate, I’ve learned you can never stop fighting for what matters most. I serve on the Mayor’s Commission Against Gun Violence. I’ve pushed government to improve on issues from discrimination and hate crimes to voting rights and protecting foster children. Most recently, I was the associate regional director for the Anti-Defamation League. Now I’m fighting for every resident in every neighborhood—for timely trash and recycling pickup, safe streets and sidewalks, the highest standards of flood protection and all the quality services expected of a great city.

How should Houston balance dense, urban development and neighborhood preservation?

Some days, it seems like the ground is shifting right under our feet—and with all the booming development and redevelopment, it literally is. I know residents who live near new high-rises and new, dense developments who have seen their water pressure drop, their risk of flooding increase and traffic in their neighborhoods become unmanageable. Established neighborhoods are changing rapidly, and the city needs to do a better job of responding. I am very concerned that neighbors are bearing the brunt of these impacts. I’m ready to start a serious conversation about correcting this imbalance.

What types of infrastructure improvements would you advocate for in your district?

Streets, sidewalks and drainage—hands down. Many parts of our district are in some of the oldest parts of Houston. On the street where I live, there are parts with no sidewalks. Just walking with our dog Roosevelt or seeing neighbors with their children in the street can be a hair-raising experience. The good news is that the federal government is finally starting to release Hurricane Harvey recovery dollars. That means important projects that have been on hold at the city, like street reconstruction projects, can get moving again. As a council member, I’ll be pushing hard for my constituents.

What is the most pressing issue specific to your district?

Keeping water out of our homes tops the list. District C includes many areas hit hardest by Harvey and Tax Day and Memorial Day floods. I’ve proposed a set of practical steps to reduce the risk—from enhanced warning systems to basic maintenance of storm sewers and ditches to speeding up neighborhood drainage projects. And even when our homes are high and dry, driving there is like navigating an obstacle course. I’m pushing to improve transparency in the city’s infrastructure program, bring more projects into our neighborhoods where they are needed and better notify residents about construction delays.

Shelley Kennedy

Website: www.kennedyforhouston.com

Occupation/experience: owner of health care consulting firm

I have served on community boards and volunteered for nonprofits all my life. I have a record of achievement working as a community leader and political advocate that yields results. Under the last two mayors, I have been appointed to city commissions (KHB Commission & IPOB). I know one of the most effective ways to bring about change is through the implementation of policies, and I am a policy wonk and a budget geek. I have been fiercely advocating for the people of Houston for decades as a driving force for positive change.

How should Houston balance dense, urban development and neighborhood preservation?

The lack of affordable housing within the city is a threat to our future and economic development. I favor revitalization of vulnerable neighborhoods in a manner that maintains the character of the community and results in affordable housing with access to neighborhood amenities like grocery stores, restaurants, city services and public transportation. Young professionals, graduating college students and future innovators want a city where they can live, work and play. Prospective employers want to locate in a city that not only has protection from catastrophic flooding, but offers affordable housing, robust public transportation,

green space and recreation areas.

What types of infrastructure improvements would you advocate for in your district?

The city has failed to adequately address necessary upgrades to our drainage system and infrastructure in District C. Among the bad news is that we have been building roads incorrectly since the '70s. The good news is we now know how to do it right. As we are in the process of several street reconstruction projects, we need to also be addressing the sewer lines. I will also advocate for Houston to become a more walkable city with pedestrian-activated crosswalks. We have several dangerous intersections in District C, and I’ve made it a top priority to make them safer.

What is the most pressing issue specific to your district?

With the current climate crisis, flooding poses the most significant threat to our city. We need a comprehensive city-county plan to vastly improve flood control, emergency evacuation, shelters and housing for flood refugees. Also, in District C, the city is falling short on basic city services like trash pickup, street maintenance, sewer repair and dangerous intersections. With the challenges and opportunities we are facing, it is more important than ever to have a fierce advocate for progressive values and innovation on the local level.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


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