Gene Locke is quick to laugh and make quips, but has a dignified presence when asked why he wants to be mayor of Houston.
"I love this city. It has been a place of opportunity for me. I came here to go to the University of Houston in the 1960s with basically no idea how I would even financially get through college. And now years later, I sit in an interview with you talking about the possibility of running for the mayor of the city of Houston. That means that Houston clearly has been a place of opportunity to me and I want to keep Houston as a place of opportunity."
Locke served as city attorney in Mayor Bob Lanier's administration. He's also served as special counsel to METRO, the Port of Houston Authority and the Harris County Sports Authority.
He says it's that experience that qualifies him.
"I have a tremendous bill of experience in representing and working with governmental bodies in public service. I had the opportunity under Mayor Lanier to literally have my hands on the pulse of every aspect of the city of Houston so that the administration of the city would not be new to me. I've not just served in a legislative capacity or in a fiscal capacity, I've served all over."
Locke says his vision for Houston involves a short- and a long-term plan. In the short-term, the city needs to pull through the economic crisis. Locke's long-range vision for Houston involves what he calls bringing the middle class back into the city.
"Have to address the issue of public safety because it's important that any great city is also a safe city. But in addition to that, I think we need to work real hard to develop and strengthen our neighborhoods. So that we have neighborhoods where people desire to live, want to live and that the neighborhoods in Houston are competitive with their suburban counterparts and with their counterparts in other metropolitan cities."
And he says the way to make that happen is to promote small business development and make Houston the energy AND alternative energy capitol of the world.
Locke is in the race for Houston mayor with three other major candidates. Houston Councilman Peter Brown, Retired Lt. Col. Roy Morales and City Controller Annise Parker will also be on the ballot.
Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.