As we move forward, there is still a great deal of work to be done, but we can do it together!
As your Mayor, I pledge to:
Our City government should be ahead of the curve with respect to its transparency in how it operates both internally and externally. To accomplish this, I would:
(1) Amend Council rules to:
- Require disclosure, sufficiently prior to a vote and in a manner readily accessible to residents, of donor, employment or other financial or personal relationships that would create potential for undue influence on a Council member and/or Mayor
- Allow true abstention. Currently, when a member who is present votes to abstain, the vote counts in the affirmative for the measure.
(2) Restore the proper roles and lines of communication basic to our Council-Manager form of government and contemplated by our charter:
- Empower staff to handle staff-level communications with external stakeholders (other municipalities, county, state, & federal) to encourage efficiency and ensuring all council members receive the same information, at the same time, from the same source in order to avoid information hoarding or the perception of it.
- Where interface with external elected officials is needed, the City Manager should participate along with one council member, on a rotating basis, in order to promote trust and discourage factionalism.
(3) Subject to the Open Meetings Act, hold periodic hybrid town halls, simultaneously in-person and virtual that are also recorded, for the sole purpose to offer residents the opportunity to ask direct questions of the Mayor, Council and/or City Manager about any topic relating to the City and receive responses to the extent available.
(1) Use data-driven decision-making to determine:
- What we NEED – make use of experts (engineers, consultants, etc.) to provide objective support for why a proposed expenditure is needed (e.g., based upon the data, is there actually a problem that needs to be addressed or not).
- What we WANT – before committing funds to design or construction of (i) any project that is discretionary (a new park or replacement of an existing building); or (ii) any major element of a project that is discretionary (e.g., covering over Poor Farm Ditch), make use of our enhanced communications capabilities (e.g., Citizen Satisfaction Survey) to assess resident support in lieu of relying upon echo chambers and social media posts.
- What will WORK – once the City has objectively determined a project/element is either (i) essential; or (ii) desired by a majority of responding residents, use experts, including commissioning studies, to provide data-based recommendations concerning what is feasible (e.g., what CAN we do AND what option gets residents the biggest return on their investment with the fewest adverse impacts.
(2) Show respect for residents and for organizations serving our community – PRO-ACTIVE OUTREACH to and ONGOING ENGAGEMENT with affected stakeholders BEFORE committing funds to design a project, as well as throughout the design process:
- Targeted communications (e.g., direct outreach in addition to simply posting agendas) to potentially affected stakeholders to apprise them of pending discussions at either the board/commission or staff level and encourage their participation BEFORE a proposal is brought before Council (e.g., homeowners whose property will be immediately adjacent to a proposed project; organizations whose use of public facilities will be affected by a potential aspect of a proposed project, (such as the impact of proposed drainage improvements on use of Rec Center fields during construction)).
- Special Meetings with affected stakeholders to obtain their feedback on the proposed project, including both the overall design and the phasing of construction. For instance, the Buffalo Speedway project, where such meetings were conducted during the 2019 - 2021 Council term but has mostly been set aside for projects in the current term, outside of the current town halls on the facilities master plan.
(1) Improve flood mitigation, water system resiliency and water quality:
- EXPAND our stormwater drainage and detention capabilities by:
- FIGHTING to obtain enforceable commitments from the Flood Control District and Southside Place to properly repair and maintain Poor Farm Ditch, as well as to remove the encroachments that are causing it to fail, while preserving the maximum amount of green screen for West U residents;
- REQUIRING the removal or reduction of restrictors on our drainage system as a prerequisite for any financial participation by West U in Harris County Flood Control projects, in order to increase system effectiveness; and
- CREATING an organized program to identify and fund the acquisition and development of further detention land to allow further reduction/removal of restrictors.
- ENHANCE pumping capacity in order to keep water safe in the event of a region wide event that impacts both the supply of water from the City of Houston and our own water storage facilities.
- INVESTIGATE additional filtration and treatment options to reduce the presence of sediment and other contaminants in our water supply and improve water quality and resident health.
(2) Improve resident security and safety:
- INCREASE external awareness of security enhancements, such as the Virtual Gate, in order to enhance their deterrence value.
- INCREASE visibility of police within the neighborhood, especially where it can positively impact driver behavior and enhance traffic safety.
- IMPROVE enforcement of existing traffic laws, such as minimum distances from stop signs, to reduce blind spots.
- EXAMINE use of chicanes, stop signs and other traffic calming devices to enhance pedestrian safety.
(3) Protect and enhance existing amenities
- PRESERVE existing amenities important to residents by requiring verifiable resident support for any project that would adversely impact those amenities.
- EXPLORE ways to enhance existing public amenities (such as parks and public facilities) through innovative programming in order to make sure we are getting the most out of them.
- EXPAND the City’s equipment replacement program to include park components such as playground equipment, allowing replacement on a defined schedule, more lead time to explore alternatives and working with Friends of West U Parks on funding initiatives.
(4) Encourage sustainable practices in building and operations, where economically reasonable and objectively supported by residents.
(5) Maintain the essential residential character of our community, while exploring reasonable ways to encourage commercial development that will preserve residents’ privacy but may improve the attractiveness of our community, especially along our borders, and enhance the availability of walkable retail and restaurant amenities for residents
City staff constitutes two-thirds of the taxpayer funded portion of the City's annual budget, and they, more than any group or amenity, are the source of the quality of life enjoyed by residents.
The first duty of Council, therefore, is to support staff in their work on our behalf, and we should therefore:
- CONTINUE to make every effort to recruit and retain the most highly-qualified people who are the best fit for our City’s team.
- MAINTAIN the most competitive compensation and benefits package possible.
- CREATE a robust succession plan for each manager and director level position, with the aim of ensuring continuity of institutional knowledge and developing internal candidates, where feasible.
COUNCIL must provide the following to staff:
- Clear directives and clear communication of goals and expectations.
- Resources needed to accomplish the stated goals, whether in the form of training, personnel, equipment or facilities.
- A workplace culture in which employees feel trusted to perform and encouraged to innovate and take the initiative.
- Timely and objective feedback on performance and recognition of exemplary service.
To enhance our shared sense of community, as a City, we should:
(1) Celebrate our Residents:
- Highlight the multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-national demographic of our residents, through both internally-generated programs and partnerships with external stakeholders (e.g., LULAC, Leadership Houston, Asia Society, University of Houston, Texas Southern University, etc.).
- Highlight and encourage the talents of our residents through:
- temporary art installations at parks and public facilities;
- commissioned murals and gallery showings of residents works in public buildings; and
- indoor/outdoor concerts with resident performers.
- Recognize the past service of current residents (e.g., former Mayors and councils, as well as members of boards and commissions) as part of our Centennial Celebration
(2) Expand opportunities for resident engagement:
- Increase availability and ease of use of remote access (e.g., virtual simulaneous communication) to enable increased resident participation at board and commission meetings.
- Expand programs, such as block parties and a local version of National Night Out, to encourage increased interaction between residents and staff.
- Explore the creation of volunteer corps, akin to the Good Neighbor Team, that can support the activities of our volunteer boards and commissions (e.g., Parks & Recycling) under the auspices of City staff.
- Look for additional ways to bring residents into the planning of new projects (e.g., the Garden Club’s involvement with Judson Park).
(3) Provide enhanced opportunities for residents to learn about our City
- Expand the Citizens’ Academy program to include multiple classes per year, in order to allow more residents to participate.
- Create publicly available online modules based upon the course material of the Citizens Academy, to enable residents to learn about specific aspects of our City from their home or work and at their own pace.
(4) Continue and expand support for youth sports in our community
- Continue financial and in-kind support for youth sports under currently existing arrangements, which satisfy the needs of all parties and provide the level of transparency residents expect.
- Consult with representatives of youth sports programs regarding proposed projects at existing fields/facilities in order to minimize adverse impact and provide enhancement, if possible, by careful project design and phasing.
- Work with youth sports programs to improve the solid waste/recycling impact of their activities, in keeping with our commitment to environmental responsibility.