I don’t recall anything like this in prior City of Houston elections, but I might be wrong.
In order to ensure Harris County voters are as informed as possible heading into the upcoming election, the Harris County Republican Party’s Local Government Committee has compiled background information pertaining to each candidate running for office in the nonpartisan City of Houston elections on November 5, 2019. The Committee distributed a questionnaire directly to the candidates and collected each candidate’s primary vote history. Please click the link below to access the information and responses for each candidate. We’ve also included contact information to get in touch with the candidates’ campaigns directly if you have any questions.
Harris County Republican Party
In addition to primary voting history, they are using the same four questions for all candidates, regardless of position.
- Would you or your campaign accept political contributions from city contractors or vendors?
- Would you support changing Houston’s strong mayor form of government to a city manager form with a weak mayor?
- Do you support currently maintaining the city of Houston’s property tax cap?
- Do you support using city funds to pay for lobbyists?
There are some interesting results in these questionnaires. For one, I’m surprised that Orlando Sanchez didn’t respond. (UPDATE: Sanchez’s communications director tells me that Sanchez never received a questionnaire.) (UPDATE to the update: Sanchez’s comms director called back to say that the campaign did receive a questionnaire but it was overlooked in the email.) But neither did Chris Brown, so I guess that equals out.
Also, the number of people that are running for office that haven’t voted in either party’s primaries is interesting. I would have thought that people interested in politics would vote in primaries.
Then there is the Mayor’s race. Obviously, Sylvester Turner, Dwight Boykins and Sue Lovell have voted in the past 4 Democratic primaries. No surprise there. But I was a bit surprised to see that Bill King has only voted in one of the past 4 primaries, as a Republican. As has Tony Buzbee. It was also interesting that King was for funding of lobbyists and against replacing the strong mayoral form of government, while Buzbee was for replacing the strong mayoral form of government and against taxpayer funding for lobbyists.
Check it out.
What’s wrong with a political subdivision of the State funding lobbyists? How else does the City get the word to the Legislature that the proposed legislation has negative impacts? I suppose it’s OK for large corporations to use lobbyists to make their views known, but cities, counties, and school districts should just sit back and take whatever the Legislature dishes out?
If Buzbee and King are against removing the City rate cap, how will they fund their plans to grow the public safety budget, which already exceeds property tax collections. Police and fire are funded from the General Fund, which is property and sales taxes, some Federal money, franchise fees for utilities, court fines, and a few other items. Not any room there for a few hundred million in new public safety expenditure.
Warren Fawcett says
It’s wrong because taxpayer dollars are used.for lobbying. Maybe the city needs to spend its existing funds more wisely. There are many nonessentials, such as poet laureate, bike trail coordinator, $95k airport system intern. Maybe don’t have an average salary of $70k per employee plus a defined benefit pension. Political subdivisions already get an automatic increase each year that exceeds the percentage increase of the average citizen.
Warren, that’s a non-answer. You are saying that cities, counties, etc, should have no input in the legislative process, even if the Legislature is proposing something like, say, making Counties pay for the costs of prisoners sent to TDCJ. Or that HISD shouldn’t be able to make a case to the Legislature that the recapture process is hurting the district’s ability to educate students. Or that some soon to be mandated reporting requirement is going to cost a pile of money the entity doesn’t have.
That $70k per employee amount is skewed by the public safety budget. Median(half make more, half make less) salaries for police and fire are pretty close, in the low $60k range. Those two departments have 11,000+ employees. Unless you want to reduce the number of police and fire personnel, salary costs aren’t going anywhere but up. Details at https://salaries.texastribune.org/houston/departments/
They wasted $95,000 on an intern. Start with that and keep cutting.
The intern pay came out of Houston Airport System funds. Not tax money. Airport revenue cannot be used for anything outside the airports. The airports don’t get tax dollars.
When the $3 million for music was approved 11-6, it was noted that the airlines, whose fees pay for airport operations, asked for the music https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/arts-culture-news/2018/12/12/315236/houston-renews-funding-for-airport-music-program-after-bitter-fight/
bull kung says
They can help by getting Paul Watchers election judges and Deputy election judges out there to secure a Banana Republic Democrat vote that’s going to be run by Sylvester Turner
Red State Renegade says
Didn’t Turner approve spending $3 million for live bands to play at the airport? Gotta have that! Oh, plus a lady that gets a 6-figure income to bring movies to Houston, and she gets a townhome in L.A. Seems legit. But wait, didn’t “Hollywood” forsake/boycott Houston because we won’t men who “feel” like a woman, drop a deuce in the lady’s restroom?
Don Sumners says
Your posts are interesting although they show a certain lack of clarity. To start with your last comment that taxpayer money does not support the Houston Airport System, the mandatory fees are a tax of sorts and much of them are paid by Houstonians. If a penalty can be construed as a tax, so can fees.
As to the city’s employment of lobbyists, all the governments have staff or professional groups closely following all the legislative proposals effecting them. These taxpayer funded groups themselves hire lobbyists. The government leaders and staff are free to lobby the legislature on their government’s behalf and some do. What they can’t do that lobbyist can is espouse positions that their constituents don’t agree with and make deals for votes.
Many of the problems governments find themselves in are self inflicted. The City of Houston’s pension problem is a perfect example. Years ago an irresponsible mayor caused the city to dramatically increase its future pension obligations which proved unsustainable.
As to the problems at HISD the lack of money is not its biggest problem. In fact Houston ISD is in the rich property value category and (I am not positive) only recently subject to recapture.
J. Jamison says
This is not an endorsement of any candidate, but it behooves the City of Houston to hire a team of lobbyists every time the Legislature is in session. In recent sessions, the Lege has spent a lot of time rolling back ordinances of various cities. Even if you agree with the result, it is inefficient governance.