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

Houston Voter Guide 2019
Incumbent Karla Cisneros will face off against Isabel Longoria in the runoff for the Houston City Council District H race.

Incumbent Karla Cisneros will face off against Isabel Longoria in the runoff for the Houston City Council District H race.

Incumbent Karla Cisneros will face off against Isabel Longoria in the runoff for the Houston City Council District H race. The district covers parts of the Heights and the Northside. Community Impact Newspaper contacted each candidate with questions about their campaign priorities for the district, which covers parts of the Heights and the Northside. Answers may have been edited for length.

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

Karla Cisneros (incumbent)

Website: www.karlacisneros.com

Occupation/experience: I was elected to City Council in 2015. In addition to chairing council’s economic development subcommittee on education, I am also the vice chair of the transportation, technology and infrastructure committee. From 2000-06, I served as a trustee on the HISD board of education, serving as board president in 2004. I later become a certified elementary school teacher and taught in HISD schools for six years. My experience in the classroom led me to clearly understand how the development, health and success of children is profoundly affected by the quality of life in their neighborhood.

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

Houston is a market-driven city without zoning, and the challenge to balance development and preservation is a daunting task. While neighborhoods do have some tools such as minimum lot size protections, deed restrictions, historic designations, parking and civility ordinances, there is a need for additional tools to protect longtime residents in existing legacy neighborhoods, all while welcoming new development at the same time. Incentives that encourage opportunities for mixed-income housing, a variety of different kinds of housing, and multimodal transportation will strengthen the fabric of our city. Market-rate, workforce and affordable housing all need to be part of the mix.

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

Most of the neighborhoods in my district were built in the first half of the 20th century, with streets that are narrow, open ditches and a lack of sidewalks. I will continue to advocate for streets with curbs and gutters, sidewalks, adequate stormwater drainage systems and roadways that are safe for all users. Additionally, while the I-45 expansion has the potential to fix some problems created by earlier highway construction in the past, it also has the potential to have a devastating impact on neighborhoods and businesses in my district.

What is the most pressing issue specific to your district?

I am working to correct the [income] disparity present in many of my neighborhoods by providing young people with opportunities to grow and develop their full potential. I support and fund after-school, out-of-school, and summer programs. I have expanded high-quality early child care centers, built partnerships that bring a wide variety of resources to families in need, and invested in neighborhood parks and libraries. Many of my neighborhoods also face the challenge of an overpopulation of stray dogs on the street. I am a leader in spay-neuter efforts.

Isabel Longoria

Website: www.isabellongoria.com

Occupation/experience: community organizer and public policy expert with experience working for State Rep. Jessica Farrar, State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, AARP Houston office and serving on the Houston Planning Commission

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

I think we need to support more projects like duplexes, fourplexes and moderate-sized apartments that fit into the look of the neighborhood instead of hyper-dense, expensive high-rise buildings. I believe we should incentivize programs like the Houston Land Bank and Houston Land Trust that support and build contextual, moderate-density projects that benefit the community. We also need to revise our development codes to allow for more community notice of major development projects and prioritize projects that create walkable, safe, communal public spaces.

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

First, I would advocate for repairing sewage, drainage and ditches to help with street flooding and water-quality issues. These projects can be planned for long term by the city and would also involve repairing roads or engaging developers to pay for new infrastructure in areas where they are building big projects. Second, I would advocate for investing in our local community centers, libraries, and parks to facilitate these places becoming proud destinations for neighbors and nonprofit community supporting partners alike.

What is the most pressing issue specific to your district?

Affordable housing and connected communities are the most challenging issues for District H. The challenge is to invest in improvement projects that increase the safety and quality of life for residents without incentivizing the kinds of high-cost development projects that displace local families and exacerbate flooding and other infrastructure problems. We must bring in partners like the Houston Land Bank, Houston Land Trust and community-led development that help create sustainable growth for all residents at all income levels.
By Emma Whalen

Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered health care and public education in Austin.


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