Mayoral Candidates Square off at Forum

In a few months, Houston voters will elect a new mayor. Today, the candidates took part in a downtown forum with the Women Professionals in Government. Bill Stamps was there and has this report.

City controller Annise Parker, former city attorney Gene Locke, Harris County Board of Education Trustee Roy Morales and councilmember Peter Brown…One of them will be Houston’s next mayor.

All four got a chance to make their pitch to members of the group Women Professionals in Government. Annise Parker started things off.

“Who do you trust to be your next mayor? We need a mayor who can lead this city through this tough economy and out to a brighter future on the other side. We need a mayor who can make sure that public safety spending actually makes you safer.”

Each candidate was asked questions that were written by group members and were randomly selected. Gene Lock was asked what he’d do to solve the city’s budget problems.

“I am not one who thinks that we need to take a shotgun and just shoot at the problem. I think we take a rifle and go at it an strategically determine where is it we can get the best out of the city without sacrificing city services and without balancing the budget on the backs of city workers.”

Roy Morales promised if elected mayor he would do more to help the business community.

“We need to bring businesses here and to do that we need to entice them. We do that by giving them tax relief. We make sure that we reduce some of these regulations that tie their hands.”

A recent KUHF-11 News survey of likely voters shows most people are undecided about who they want to be the city’s next mayor.

Councilman Peter Brown believes the job should go to him. Here’s what he said about addressing employee grievances, a question he assumed was related to charges of racism in the fire department.

“As mayor, I will have zero tolerance for any form of discrimination or racism in city departments. The mayor needs to make that clear. He needs to make that clear to heads of the departments.”

Although the questions were supposed to be random, Parker, the only female candidate was asked what she’d do to help women advance in the workplace.

“How about getting elected mayor of Houston? (laugh and applause) Are you sure these questions are randomly selected?”

In the KUHF-11 News survey, Parker led Locke by four points, with Brown and Morales trailing behind. But sixty-seven percent of those questioned said, they haven’t made up their minds. The candidates have just over two months to win over those undecided.

Bill Stamps. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.