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Bill King Wants To Take Houston ‘Back To Basics’

The former mayor of Kemah is now competing for the highest office in the nation’s fourth-largest city.



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Bill King speaking from behind a podium
Florian Martin
Bill King announces his candidacy for mayor on a pothole-ridden street in west Houston.

Bill King's motto in this year's mayoral election is "Back to Basics." The subline is: "Fix the Streets. Catch the Crooks. Balance the Budget."

"Keeping our infrastructure up, keeping the place clean, making sure the water and sewer system works, public safety – those are the fundamental things which we organize municipal government, and we seem to do everything but that at City Hall these days," King told Houston Matters' Craig Cohen.

He criticizes the city's ReBuild Houston program, saying it hasn't done anything to fix the problem. The program uses a drainage fee, among other sources, to fix infrastructure.

Another major issue for King is the city's pension debt. He says the city should follow the lead of the private industry in moving from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. Think dropping pensions for a 401-K.

"The tail risk on defined benefit plans is unknowable," King said. "We keep making a bunch of assumptions about what's going to happen 20 or 30 or 40 years off in the future. And those assumptions are almost always wrong. And so, the liability is always a lot more than what you think it's going to be."

King is also the only major candidate who hasn't taken a clear position on the controversial equal rights ordinance that is up for a vote this November. He says it wasn't necessary in the first place but repealing it would send the wrong message about Houston.

Houston Matters: Full Interview with Mayoral Candidate Bill King