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Election Time Again!

Election Time Again!
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By Peter H Brown

Holy Smokes, it’s another city election! The run-offs for Mayor, City Controller, and five City Council seats start early voting on December 2-10, followed by the General Election on December 12. It’s awfully close to Christmas, but still, everyone needs to get out and vote!

Run-off battle lines are clearly drawn between more urban inside-the-Loop, diverse and progressive voters versus more suburban, conservative folks, generally outside Loop 610.

It’s an exciting time for me, as Pedestrian Pete, since we can actually elect a very urban Mayor and City Council majority firmly committed to unabashed walkable urbanism. Mayor Parker got the walkable city movement here started, just like Mayor Bloomberg in NYC and Richard Daley in Chicago. Yet in car-addicted Houston, we have a lot of new shoe leather to burn, if we are to catch up with these other cities.

Prior to the General Election on November 3, I interviewed most of the Mayoral candidates and talked to most of the Council aspirants. Check out my Facebook page to find out what all the mayoral candidates had to say regarding their vision for a more walkable Houston.

Here are some great excerpts, with links to each of the full interviews.

chrisbell

 

 

“Houstonians dream big. They deserve a city government that supports those dreams.”

 

 

 

Chris Bell: “In my first term, we will build or improve 200 miles of sidewalks…because people are entitled to a safe walk around their neighborhood, we need to do more than that. There are a lot of intersections where you feel that you are taking you life in your own hands crossing the streets; it shouldn’t be like that…walk signals need to work!”

Watch the full interview here.

stevecostello

 

 

 

“I will work to fix our roads and traffic, prioritize our public safety, and protect taxpayer money.”

 

 

 

 Steve Costello: “Well it’s interesting, in the City of Houston, the beauty is at street level. There are several things that I am going to work on as the next Mayor. First I am going to try to get the utilities underground… (Pedestrian Pete: Oh man, I like that! Rid us of litter on a stick!) And I am going work on advocating for more complete streets.”

Watch the full interview here.

billking

 

“I am running for Mayor to get the City of Houston back to basics. I want to put my business experience to work fixing the streets, catching the crooks, and balancing our budget.”

 

Bill King: “Walkability starts with decent sidewalks. We have this terrible public policy in Houston that makes the property owners responsible for the sidewalks in front of their houses. It also means that along any block, the sidewalk will be as good as the least responsible property owner…the other problem is that it’s got to be 5-10 times more expensive for an owner to try to maintain a section of sidewalk.”

Watch the full interview here.

sylvesterturner

 

 

“Let’s build a brighter future for Houston.”

 

 

 

 

Sylvester Turner: “Well I think we have to start now, really designing a walkable city, which means we will have to change some of the codes from 30 years ago and bring them current. I think people want to be able to walk to a retail center or to their jobs or walk to a close-by park. We need better sidewalks; that is critically important, because a lot of seniors and disabled people can’t even use the sidewalks that exist right now. We need to improve that…a city that is designed as pedestrian friendly.”

Watch the full interview here.

 

sidewalkclosedPolicy Summary:

Based on Pete’s interviews, Sylvester Turner is the only candidate thinking out of the simplistic box of “more sidewalks.” Turner spoke of a city “designed” for walkable urban districts, with alternatives to car dependency – biking, rail transit, and of course walking. Turner should be the clear choice of pedestrians, bicyclists and those who yearn for more urbanity!

 

Rail Transit is Essential:

An expanded rail transit network, including streetcars (Portland OR, Seattle WA, Denver CO, Salt Lake City UT and 20 other US cities), as well as MetroRail, is essential; both to reduce congestion and to get more folks out on the streets. After all, every transit ride starts and ends with a pedestrian.

 

Pedestrian Districts:

All of us who love active street life, coherent mixed-use clusters of residential, office, shopping, dining, culture and entertainment, should make clear to the next administration that this is the kind of city we want. We must rise well above “business-as-usual,” with clear policies about fixing our neighborhoods and building walkable urban districts. You can be sure that Pedestrian Pete will speak, in no uncertain terms, to the next Mayor about this essential priority.

 

I’ll report back to you on the progress of the election in two weeks!

 

PedestrianPeteheadshot

 

Pedestrian Pete is the alter ego of Peter H. Brown, native-born architect/urban planner and former City Councilman (2006-2010), and long-time quality of life advocate.
Contact Pete at
[email protected]