When Tony Buzbee entered the Houston mayoral race, I told you that I wanted to interview him and that I hoped his campaign wasn’t a lark. So I was able to meet with him this week and no, his campaign isn’t a lark or a vanity effort.
It was a beautiful, sunny day (remember those?) so we sat outside and talked about the city, about his passion for it, how he plans to win and what his core issues are. Before getting to all of that, I’ll give you my first impression of what he wants to bring to Houston and that is hope. Now, remember, that isn’t his message, that is my impression but I don’t think he would argue with me. Aside from the straight up political stuff, he talks about volunteerism, solving homelessness, making the city a no kill city for stray animals and his passion for philanthropy. He wants Houstonians to once again have pride in their city.
On the straight up political side, his top three issues are:
- Campaign Finance Reform
As you know, I’m not a fan of Houston’s Police Chief, so I asked him what he would do with Art Acevedo. He told me that Acevedo’s biggest problem is that he doesn’t have enough officers, saying that New York City has over twice as many officers per thousand residents as Houston. And given the lower population density, officers in Houston have far more area to cover.
Buzbee recognizes that drainage is a regional issue and that the city should be the leader in bringing the various stakeholders to the table and creating a regional solution to the problem. He also noted that while Houston has a “dedicated” drainage tax (rain tax), very little of the proceeds of that tax is spent on drainage projects. If elected, he would make certain that any money collected under the drainage tax would be used for drainage projects and not for employee salaries in public works and parks.
Campaign Finance Reform
I could just as easily have called this section Corruption Elimination. As you probably know, Buzbee has vowed to not accept any campaign contributions from anyone. Period. Obviously not every candidate has the resources to make that type of pledge, so what is he really trying to point out? He’s trying to call attention to the mass corruption in city and county politics where engineering firms and construction contractors contribute large sums of money to political candidates in return for huge government contracts. This is from Buzbee’s Facebook page:
And this is from Buzbee’s Twitter feed:
In this tweet, he agrees with County Judge Lina Hidalgo about the issue:
It will be interesting to see if Hidalgo keeps her promise to do this. Beto won’t be on the ballot in 2022 to put her in office again. But it’s a good thought and I hope she does keep this promise. I have no doubt that Buzbee will keep his promise in not accepting campaign donations and in trying to get the law changed to prevent candidates from accepting funds from anyone that does business with the city. That’ll be a tall order though.
Is Buzbee a Democrat or Republican?
I asked him this question because of this tweet:
And because of his campaign contributions last year to the Harris County Democratic Party, four Democratic judicial candidates and a Democratic PAC totaling $220,000.
Add that to the fact that he was Chair of the Galveston County Democratic Party in the early 2000’s, he ran as a Democrat for state representative against now Sen. Larry Taylor in 2002 and flirted with running as a Democrat against former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in 2006. In between those bookends, he served as Rick Perry’s attorney and as a debate coach for both Perry and Dewhurst.
Marc Campos, a Democratic consultant and one of Bill King’s strategists asked this yesterday:
I heard yesterday that Tony Buzbee, who wants to be H-Town Mayor, was a huge Dem donor to judicial races this past November. How come he’s hiring GOP consultants? Oh, well.
Indeed, Buzbee is using Axiom Strategies, who handled the Ted Cruz and Kathaleen Wall campaigns last year, in addition to many other Republican candidates. Click here to view Buzbee’s latest campaign finance report if that stuff interests you.
So, is he a Democrat or a Republican? Since I didn’t get an answer, I’ll let you decide. I bet all of those Republicans that got booted out of office last year are thinking, hmm, that’s a lot of money to help Democratic candidates in Harris County.
Buzbee is a disruptive candidate
The City of Houston has not been served well by candidates that are go along to get along. I think that is the reason that so many people are excited by his candidacy. If there is one thing that he will not be it is a business as usual Mayor. He will not be pitting the police against the firefighters in a vain attempt to hold power. He will hold people accountable for performance unlike the current corrupt office holder. Houston’s City Hall could use a good dose of disruption, if not bulldozing.
He has ideas that are simple but will make life better for all Houstonians. Putting a strong volunteer organization together will do wonders for the city, both in finances and in pride. He mentioned the millions of dollars that the city spends lighting City Hall for the holidays and maintains that he can get companies to do that for free. I think he’s right. Pay millions for music at the airports? Ridiculous. Invite local musicians to volunteer to do that. I know he’s right on that one.
Know the candidates
I’ve encouraged you to sign up for Bill King’s email list to keep informed about the election. You should do the same for Tony Buzbee. Click here to go to his website and sign up for his list. Here are a couple of opportunities to meet him next week:
- Monday, February 4th – Cadillac Bar & Grill 6:30 – 8:00 pm (click for details)
- Tuesday, February 5th – Greater Houston Pachyderm 11:30 am – 1:00 pm (click for details)
As of today, I think that Buzbee is the only formally announced candidate. If others mount campaigns, I’ll let you know. Hopefully I can give you information you need to add a few more data points to help you in your decision when you go to the polls.
Wow, this was a bit longer than I planned. But honestly, Tony Buzbee is an interesting candidate. Check him out.