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The City Run-off Election: Vote right if you want a more walkable city!

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Pedestrian Pete, who has voted in every election since 1960(voted for JFK!), is miffed by the low city turn-out. Municipal elections are VERY important, especially run-offs, when the crowded field is narrowed down to just two candidates in each race, hopefully the best two.

Incredibly, only about 20% of Houstonians who take the time to register in-person, actually show up to vote. This is embarrassingly low, in a democracy where the right to vote defines our American culture.

The run-off election this year is on Saturday December 12. Early voting started Wednesday December 2nd, through Tuesday December 8th. Sadly, maybe only 180,000 of about 980,000 registered voters will show up, less than 20%. If you voted on November 3rd, that’s good, but you still need to vote in the run-offs. Otherwise, our democracy won’t function as our forefathers intended, if the majority stays home.

 

The line-up for Mayor

OK! Here’s how the run-off stacks up for Pedestrian Pete.

Bill King, Mr. Fix-it!

Bill King, Mr. Fix-it!

Bill King has emphasized “back to basics,” which means fixing the potholes, catching the crooks, fixing the streets, reducing flooding and the City’s pension obligations. He also would make building more sidewalks a responsibility of the city, not the property owner, a good idea.

 

 

Sylvester Turner, Mr. Big Picture!

Sylvester Turner, Mr. Big Picture!

Sylvester Turner in contrast has a grander vision for facing the city’s challenges – from a strategic business plan, economic development to narrow the wealth gap, (two Houstons, one richer and the other poorer is not acceptable), and a safer city, to neighborhood revitalization, expanded rail transit, and comprehensive infrastructure investments. He also advocates exciting mixed-use walkable districts, served by mass transit.

 

The battle lines are clearly drawn:

"If you want this fixed, talk to the mayor!"

“If you want this fixed, talk to the mayor!”

Mirroring perhaps a divided government in Washington, this run-off election seems to pit a mostly conservative, Anglo, and wealthier group of voters (King’s folks, although he is personally more moderate than his likely constituency), against a very diverse, less affluent, more moderate/ progressive group (Turner’s folks).

So why is Pedestrian Pete talking about politics? Why is politics so important? It’s because the strong hand of the next mayor, in Houston’s strong-mayor/weak city council form of government, will largely determine whether we become a more walkable, and I would add livable city, or not. It will take a lot more than fixing the basics, like sidewalks. Making Houston more walkable and bikeable boils down to a political issue. No matter what citizens want, or what makes the most sense, it won’t happen without the firm backing of the mayor. That’s the way it works in Houston. The mayor is the gatekeeper.

pedestrian petePedestrian Pete’s urban slate

I wish that most of us could walk or ride mass transit to the polls. That will have to wait. Another concern is more immediate – young people, especially Millenials, now almost one-third of the US population, need to start voting in much greater numbers. This is the demographic that really wants a more walkable city, served by light rail transit, with exciting street life. Yet the average age of voters in the November 3rd general election was 67. Seniors were in fact over-represented, young people under-represented! Come on young people! You will inherit the city we are building today. You are the group that values urbanity, not having to own a car, walking or riding transit or a bike to work, and enjoying exciting street and outdoor life. So get out and vote….for the right folks.

“If you want this fixed, talk to the Mayor!”

Given how the battle lines are drawn, those of us who want a more walkable city - (let’s add bikeable, equitable, greener, healthier and attractive city ) – should support, and actually go out and vote for Turner as Mayor.

The rest of the run-off urban slate is also critical – notably Amanda Edwards (At-large 4), Georgia Prevost (At-large 1), David Robinson (At-large 2), and Jack Christie (At-large 5), and Karla Cisneros (District - H). This is the urban slate.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 11.54.41 AM

These are the candidates who really understand how cities and neighborhoods work, how Houston can thrive as a great city, and will work with the Mayor to make it happen.

Remember, early voting December 2nd through the 8th; Election Day is Saturday December 12th.

All of the races will be close, which means YOUR VOTE really matters.