Why I’m Running
Responsibly Care for Your Tax Dollars
The centerpiece of my campaign is change the way city projects are funded so that District A receives the full weight of its taxpayer dollars.
As your City Council Member, I will do everything I can to make sure that your money is spent on your priorities, like public safety, basic services and infrastructure projects. To that end, we must change the way projects are funded.
Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) are currently funded through a convoluted process that does not benefit District A. There is nothing fair about this process. District A has the highest population of any district and is one of the largest districts based on square miles. It would stand to reason under these circumstances alone that District A should be one of the districts with the most money for infrastructure projects. This does not even consider needs, of which District A has a lot.
In Fiscal Year 2019, District A will receive .59% of infrastructure funding from the CIP. Based on population and size, an equitable share should dictate that we get a lot more money than this; however, not only are we not getting what we pay in, but we aren’t even getting an equal share. At the very least, we should get roughly 9% of the money if it was split evenly among the 11 council districts.
District A has been in this situation for years where we don’t get a fair share or an equal share. Year after year, we thank whichever mayor is in office for finally allowing a project to be funded that we have been waiting on for 20 years. Then the project gets delayed because of funding problems. This has been a chronic problem and shows that, obviously, the current system is not working.
In 2011, Rebuild Houston was instituted by City Council after the voters supported it in the November 2010 election. It was supposed to address projects on a worst-first basis, but there is an inherent flaw in this system that must be brought to light. The worst streets do not automatically get chosen for projects. Instead they have to compete with each other based on available funding. So, if the worst street in the City will cost $30 million and the next worst will cost $20 million, that $30 million street will never get done because it will always cost too much compared to other streets. If you wonder why some of the obviously bad streets never get attention (i.e. Neuens Road and Campbell Road), this is why.
My proposal to transform the system is this: The available CIP money should be split in half. 50% should go towards a worst-first list of projects City-wide so that we address the worst issues first no matter where they are in the City. Cost should be a factor, but it needs to consider other things like population, drainage opportunities, etc. The other 50% should be split evenly among each council district.
This plan makes two important changes: first, it creates a balance between completing the worst projects and fairly distributing the money so that everyone benefits from the tax dollars they pay. Secondly, and equally as important, it takes the mayor out of the CIP equation. With our strong mayoral form of government, it is far too easy for a mayor to play favorites with the money and give more projects to a council member who votes with him or her. If the money is distributed evenly, council members will no longer have to vote with the mayor in order to gain favor for more projects.
Protect Your Homes from Flooding
As the chief of staff for District A since 2014, I had the unique opportunity to work on many projects that benefited our community. We have so much momentum with our projects finally moving forward, and we cannot afford to have someone else come in and throw away all the work that we have done as a community. A new council member will have a learning curve, and that can mean the difference between funding a project or not. It can mean the difference between your home flooding or not. We have seen this repeatedly as new council members come in to office. I know the projects that are in the pipeline and the promises that have been made and will not allow anyone to derail them. We have fought too hard.
Our legacy projects include Neuens Road, Spring Shadows North and South, Chateau Forest, the Inwood Forest Detention Project, and so many more. I will continue these projects and will make sure all the promises that have been made remain intact such as sidewalks, trees, speed cushions, and more.
Besides our legacy projects, there are so many other neighborhoods that need attention like Sherwood Oaks and Shepherd Forest. There are also blighted and dangerous apartments and buildings that need to be torn down throughout District A. I know how the process works and how to get projects funded, which can be extremely difficult to do. By the time someone else could get up to speed with the needs of the district, the funding opportunities for these projects could easily be gone.
Support Police Officers and Fire Fighters
Public safety is one of my top priorities. District A needs more police officers. While crime in our area continues to remain low compared to other areas of town, it will not stay that way if we do not have the resources we need. I have worked with HPD on numerous crime-fighting initiatives and will continue to support HPD through funding overtime programs and will support more cadet classes to increase the number of officers in our neighborhoods.
HFD has an ongoing need for new equipment. Far too many of our fire trucks and ambulances break down far too often. I listened to HFD’s needs and worked with them to identify funding to support their upgrades, and I will continue to do so as the council member.
Reduce Wasteful Spending
With our strong mayoral form of government, council members do not get enough say in what happens in the City. Although council members can offer amendments to the budget, so much money is hidden in various accounts, and not everything is readily available for council members to see. Although each department director presents their budget to Council each year during the budget workshops, the process just becomes a platform for the department to highlight their accomplishments and talk about how they need more money to continue their good work.
The City Controller is tasked with being the “watchdog” for the city’s finances and is supposed to do audits of various departments. Although audits are conducted, very little changes take places as a result. I want to see a more systematic approach to the audits with mandatory briefings before City Council. Every single department and program should be audited regularly with input from citizens. If the program is not living up to its intended function or is no longer a core service, it should be dissolved.