In what was a civil but sometimes tense debate aired live on Houston Public Radio and KHOU Television, Locke and Parker stayed on point, jabbing each other on a variety of subjects. They sparred on their support of public safety in Houston and questions about Metro, the future of the Sports Authority and campaign endorsements. Early on, both promised not to raise property or sales taxes right away.
Parker: “I will not raise Houston’s property or sales tax rate in this current economy and to balance this budget. I cannot make that pledge forever, but I absolutely will not do so to balance this budget or the next.”
Locke: “The number of people who I talk to daily about the problem that property taxes imposes upon them, people who are on a fixed income who can barely stay in their own homes, the amount of debt and obligations that we can put on them is shameful, and so I’m not going to do it. You have my promise.”
Both Locke and Parker agreed on the issue of police officers checking the immigration status of local residents.
Locke: “We don’t have the resources nor it is constitutionally permissive for our officers to be asking about citizenship on the street. But if someone is arrested and in our jail we ought to do screening in our jail to determine who is in our jail and to make sure that we can improve the health and safety of Houstonians here.”
Parker: “I want everyone who lives here in Houston to feel comfortable calling the police in an emergency or calling the police to report a crime. If, however, you violate a local law and you are taken to jail, you should fully expect to have your immigration status checked and after you have served your time for us, be turned over to Immigration and Customs Service, ICE.”
The run-off election is Saturday and both Parker and Locke took the opportunity to let listeners and viewers know why they want to be the next mayor of Houston.
Parker: “I have been excited to go to work every day for the last 12 years. You don’t go into the public sector to get rich, at least not legally. You go in because there are rewards in being able to transform people’s lives.”
Locke: “If I can be a vessel for change, if I can create opportunities for people, if I can open doors for people, if I can help create a solution to some of the problems that this city has, then my life is rewarded and enriched.”
Parker was the leading vote getter during the general election and has had a slight lead in several polls since November, although experts say a huge pool of undecided voters could change that on Saturday.