On Thursday, the Downtown Pachyderm held a forum for City of Houston candidates for District G, At-Large Position 4, and City Controller candidates. While the members and attendees are only permitted to ask one question, I will write about the entire forum. I asked the same question to each candidate:
Will you support local control of our pensions and lobby legislators in Austin to provide this local control?
The following candidates participated in this forum:
Oliver Pennington, City Councilman, District G
Brian Taef, City Council, District G Candidate
C.O. “Brad” Bradford, City Councilman, At-Large Position 4
Pasadena resident Issa Dadoush
Bill Frazer, City Controller Candidate
Oliver Pennington is the current councilman for District G. A young man named Brian Taef is challenging Pennington. Taef is young, energetic, a representative of a bright future for the Republican Party in Harris County.
While Pennington is well-funded and should hold the seat, Taef has some good ideas including a focus on the growing massage parlor and game room problem in west Houston. District G is an important race for many reasons; but, the most significant issue is that District G is home to the westside conservative stronghold.
Annise Parker won her first mayoral election because of these folks after she promised to restructure Metro, and stay off Richmond. Now, a contest in this district has the potential to hurt the mayor. If Ben Hall makes an effort with the local republican women’s clubs, Parker could be in trouble. The Blakemore/Hotze mailing list will be significant here.
Returning to the pension issue, Pennington did have the right answer to the question: no city councilman or mayor has control of the pension. Additionally, Pennington said that he would lobby the state legislature to return local control of the pension to Houston. If re-elected, Pennington will have a chance to fulfill this campaign promise.
At-Large Position 4
I recently wrote about Pasadena resident, Issa Dadoush, who is challenging Chief Bradford in the City at large position 4 race. Dadoush is nice and has made an effort to speak with me at the Downtown Pachyderm. He also realizes that I am not high on the engineering community after the Prop 1 disaster and Stephen Costello’s misleading campaign to bamboozle voters. In all fairness, I need to take him to lunch and hear him out and he has offered to do so.
Ultimately, none of this makes a difference because Chief Bradford will win this race. I do believe that Issa got into this race for the wrong reasons and that never works out. Funny that he did not run against Costello. Chief Bradford is a great speaker and he did well during the forum as he always does. I did not realize that our current police chief, Charles McClelland, has 135 fewer officers than Bradford had ten years ago. Think about that statement. While the Police Department budget has doubled, the citizens have 135 fewer officers on the force as compared to 2003. To me, that is an amazing statistic and a testament to the pension problem. Chief also repeated his policies of lower regulations and fees. He understands the need for economic growth and a vibrant economy. Bradford has walked the walk for the previous four years and I am confident that he will continue to do so.
Bill Frazer is challenging the current controller, Ronald Green. Green failed to appear at the forum. Frazer continued on his theme of fiscal responsibility, auditing the TIRZ’s, and pension reform. Big Jolly has written about Bill before. Bill is a CPA with an impressive history in the private sector and he would be a great controller. His campaign has been well received and his support is growing in the community. A high turnout for Ben Hall could have a negative impact, especially if race becomes an issue in this campaign.
Most certainly, the pension issue will be a major focus during the city election cycle. Unfortunately, the discussion is pointless because the city’s hands are tied. The legislature has enacted legislation preventing a defined contribution 401K from being implemented. Candidates can agree to lobby the legislature to change the law; but, all other words are just that. I have heard all candidates talk about this issue and they either don’t understand it or are afraid to challenge union leaders in Austin on the issue. Very soon, I will write about a new PAC formed to tackle this issue.