Live Blogging from Houston Latino Summit Mayoral Debate

Candidates w/ CM James Rodriguez and Moderator Minerva Perez

Candidates w/ CM James Rodriguez and Moderator Minerva Perez

A great turnout at the Houston Latino Summit Mayoral Debate.  Lots of VIPs.  The candidates are here.  Let’s get ready to…RUMBLE!!!

  • CM James Rdz. welcomes everyone.  Touching on issues affecting the Latino community and the need for political empowerment of the community.
    • Note:  My CM Mike Sullivan is here.
  • Local news personality Minerva Perez moderating.
  • Opening Statements
    • Roy Morales
    • Annise Parker
    • Peter Brown
    • Gene Locke–Playing to Latinos w/ Soccer Stadium and Hispanic Museum as tourist attraction.
  • Spanish Speakers:  Safe to say…None.  But that’s OK.
  • Challenges for Latino Community
    • Morales–Serving everyone should be the goal.
    • Annise–Economic Development
    • Brown– Committed to public education, economic development.  Challenges for Latinos are same for everyone else.  Education must work.
    • Locke–Latinos and all face challenges:  health care, Latino business community, greater political participation, economic development.  Improve status if Latinos, and therefore improve all communities.
  • Few Latino Dept. heads–How do you fix it?
    • Parker–Makeup should look like city.  Promoted Latinos in her office to high-level positions. Ensuring multilingual office is key to keeping community informed.
    • Brown– There will be more seats at the table.  Will appoint Dir. of Hispanic Affairs.  Finalists for new Dept. heads that leaders with Hispanic backgrounds are included. Have a clear Latino agenda in Mayor’s office. Build the Latino middle class, jobs and business opps.
    • Locke–Fighter for opps. all of his life.  Wants to be a mayor to open opps to latinos.  Promises to look at a complete pool of applicants that is qualified and inclusive of diversity. Looking to youth and Latino youth.
    • Morales–City hall needs to look like the city.  It is now lopsided.  Looking to every position to ensure qualified people are in positions.
  • CIP-Infrastructure; Commit to Bond Election?
    • Brown–We need comprehensive plans to plan for future.
    • Locke–Not committed, but has ideas.  City-County must works together.  Use community development work for infrastructure work in central city.
    • Morales–wants to look at city services.  Financial crisis at city hall. Deficits at city hall. Priorities.
    • Parker– Hire Houston First; Engineering Better Houston. If we are going to expand, we need more dollars. Focus on drainage, watershed by watershed, prioritize and go to voters.  Intergovt’al cooperation.
  • Budget Cuts–What would you cut?
    • Locke–Does not want to cut anything. Accessibility of public to gov’t is needed. 3-1-1 is needed.
    • Morales–Audit all departments before we target one program. Parks and Libraries–collaborate with other agencies/County.
    • Parker–Does not want to cut Citizens Assistance Office. CAO must work with other depts. Will not cut public safety. Looking for efficiencies. Already has done audits, but implementation of results has not occurred at administration level.
    • Brown–Brings business skills to job. Increasing efficiency leads to savings.  Grow tax base.
  • Which Latino will be on Circle of Advisors?
    • Morales–diverse campaign team.
    • Parker–Diverse team. Campaign Chair and Fundraising chiefs are Latinos.
    • Brown–Importance of talent that is diverse. Wants it in city hall, too.
    • Locke–Adelante Strategies runs campaign.  Has a diverse. Will look to those who have endorsed him to advise him–(Elected Officials)
  • Latino Police Chief–Consideration?
    • Parker–Wants national search for all city departments, inclusive of all.
    • Brown–Would consider. Shortlists will include Latinos.
    • Locke–Consider, yes.  Every dept. hire will include pool of highly qualified people, but will be completely inclusive.
    • Morales–Looking to all critical positions, including public safety director.
  • Mayor Taking Over HISD?–Offensive to Saavedra
    • Brown–Improving public ed. should be discussed because it is challenge. Wants to be involved as mayor in education. Does not favor taking over schools; wants partnerships.
    • Locke–NO–should not be involved. It is an ISD. Mayor should have role–public safety, educational issues, private sector involvement. Politicizing won’t work.
    • Morales–No. Education has challenges because failures in DC and Austin.  Hispanic students have problems because of bilingual education, prefers immersion.
    • Parker–No.  No authority, but responsibility. Public safety issues. City must be partner, stay in school programs.
  • Involvement in Education by mayor
    • Locke–Dropout programs, training programs, serve as a bully pulpit. Own up to do something different in education.
    • Morales–Louder voice with electeds in DC and Texas. After school programs must be doubled. Feds need to play their role.
    • Parker–After school programs in middle schools to target the social problems. A safety net. Investment from business community to partner. Job training programs.
    • Brown–Stay in School program; after school–need more funding. Community development.  Livable communities/neighborhood schools. Adopt-a-school program by corporations. Will work with Houston Partnership.
  • Candidates told to write 3 Latino nonprofits–ALL PASS TEST!
    • Morales–PR Ballet, La Rosa Health Services, Latino Prof. Women
    • Parker–MECA, La Rosa, Camara de Empresarios Latinos, Houston HCofC
    • Brown–AAMA, Tejano Center, LULAC Councils, Houston HCC
    • Locke–Hispanic Bar, Community Family Center, Tejano Center, Casa de Amigos
  • City Contracting
    • Parker–Increased Latino-owned contracting as controller. Audit firm contracts. Wants growth.
    • Brown–Goals and Plan. Needs more effective affirmative action plan for contracting. Assist minority businesses. Has done it as a businessman/architect.
    • Locke–Make opps for people.  Wrote the affirmative action program for City, defended at courthouse, and to voters. Revise the program. Private sector experience. Houston must be top 5 in profitability for minority business.
    • Morales–Needs to revise.  Minority business needs contracts, not sub-contracts. (Wow!).
  • Maria Jimenez to ask question: CoH has requested 287(g) for HPD corrections and to patrol staff. Numerous reports indicate that in 67 cities in prog operation, goal of identifying violent criminals was not met. Chron also confirmed it. If implemented, immigrant community will fear reporting and serving as witnesses, are you willing to risk fighting crime for 287(g).
    • Brown–Will be caring and humane. Not target workers, etc. We don’t have resources for immig enforcement. Sheriff’s dept does a good job. More training money needed for profiling. Will not divert resources.
    • Locke–Review participation agreement. Fed problem. Find a way to protect citizen, and use law enforcement for immigration is not needed. Wants to focus on violent criminals.
    • Morales–Will sign memo. Needs to come together as community. How is it implemented? No profiling. We need go after worse of the worse.
    • Parker– City should participate in city jail. Patrols should not question citizenship. If you enter CJ system, city should cooperate.
  • Gene Mendoza–HUD moneys to Houston. 2 Latino directors in its history. Most staff is African American community. Feels more money goes to African American community.  Will mayor favor only one community?
    • Locke–NO! We need to use our dollars for all communities. Needs to be cleaned up to better serve the Latino community. Better communications with Latino community.
    • Morales–Wants to level playing field. Needs to look like Houston.
    • Parker– A problem department. Disaster waiting to happen, especially when we send money back to DC. Audit found problems. Will make it a priority for all communities to be served. Aggressive outreach to communities.
    • Brown–Problems in housing and community dev. No plans, no policy, mostly reactive. Will have clear plan and policy. transparency.
  • Marc Campos–We are assuming that everyone arrested is bad, major criminal.  not good.
  • Marc Campos–Redistricting of Council.  Process protects current council members first, usually. If elected, will mayor work with Latino community in discussion of  redistricting and process.
    • Morales–Supported adding new districts now. Including another at-large position. latinos are everywhere. Latinos must be part of process. 50% of population.
    • Parker–Census is important. Feels we should have redistricted now. All stakeholders must be involved.
    • Brown–Yes, Latinos will be represented in process.  Depoliticize the process after the Census. Meet standards of Voter Act of 1965.
    • Locke–Yes. Experts hired will be in consultation with communities.  Feels he has more experience in this regard. Worked on HCC, HISD redistricting.
  • Candidate supporters ask questions.  (Battery running low…uh oh).

The rest of the questions came from supporters of each candidate.  Ultimately, the panel which graded the performance of the debate picked this order:

  1. Gene Locke
  2. Annise Parker
  3. Peter Brown
  4. Roy Morales

Closing Thoughts

I thought this wa a good debate; a good discussion of the issues that most affect the City.  One of the last questions pertained to the hiring of the next police chief.  Annise Parker effectively defended her feelings about wanting to hire a new police chief, even blowing away the contention held by the Locke campaign about “lame duck” feelings.  Said Parker, if the Chief is not able to perform his tasks because of how he feels, then he should resign now.  That is a strong statement.

Ultimately, it is up to the voters.  Tho’ the candidates can count this as their 20-something’th debate, it is fast becoming time for them to take their campaigns to the people–the field campaign, the media explosions, etc.

Finally, although I made my choice early, I am not enamored by the current 287(g) talk of the candidates. I do not support any 287(g) type of program unless it is clear-cut.  As it stands, as long as court entities want to spend the money to convict jay walkers and speeders, then the Feds will deport the very ones that these candidates were saying they do not want to target.  No Mayoral policy or order will stop local police from targeting the undocumented by pursuing flimsy and/or petty charges.  So, it is time for these candidates to realize this fact and come up with a new line on 287(g).

5 responses to “Live Blogging from Houston Latino Summit Mayoral Debate

  1. Lately, Arne Duncan has been talking about this idea, and Peter Brown seemed to have embraced it. Locke went after him, and Annise did, as well. Ultimately, yes, INDEPENDENT school district means something in Texas.

    Big City mayors, though, seem to embrace this idea.

  2. capitolannex

    Why would they have asked the question about the city of Houston taking over HISD? Under Texas law, that just isn’t possible. They are two separate and equal government entities.

  3. Pingback: The immigration question in the Mayor’s race – Off the Kuff

  4. As a point of clarification: Annise Parker has said and continues to say she will appoint the next Police Chief from within the ranks of the Houston Police Department. She will conduct a national search for all other department heads.
    Sue Davis
    Annise Parker Campaign

    • twocentavos

      Sue, thank you for the clarification. Frankly, I like this idea because a local hire would have a better understanding of the HPD culture, and a better idea of those areas which need immediate action in regard to crime fighting.