July 06, 2003
Turner to announce candidacy

The Chron has a profile of Sylvester Turner, who on Wednesday will formally (and finally) announce his candidacy for Mayor in this year's election. It's a nice enough piece, which touches on his original run in 1991 and highlights the issues he plans to emphasize:

Of the four major candidates, Turner has shown the strongest support for the $3.3 billion rail-and-bus plan the Metropolitan Transit Authority is considering for the November ballot along with the city of Houston elections.

Turner said Metro should add more rail lines, especially to George Bush Intercontinental Airport and to Gulfgate Mall.

But he said Metro should consider softening the effect the plan would have on the general mobility money the agency sends other cities and Harris County to help repair streets. The biggest criticism Metro has attracted from its plan is a recommendation to halt the $100 million annual general mobility payments starting in 2009.

Turner suggested the county and cities can be weaned more slowly from their reliance on the money. Perhaps Metro could impose a sliding scale, reducing the annual general mobility payments starting after 2009, he said.

While that eventually would mean less money for roads, Turner said, a bill he co-authored in the last session will provide more money for roads by adding a charge on traffic tickets.

Turner said Metro should have a referendum this fall, despite pressure in some quarters for a delay in the vote, because Houston voters tell him they want more rail to help solve costly traffic congestion and air pollution problems.

"It's incumbent upon us to get moving," Turner said. "Look, Dallas has rail. Houston is probably the only major city without it, and we're paying a price for that."

Other issues Turner intends to push include:

Business development by "shouldering up existing businesses" and attracting companies to Houston that provide jobs.

Revitalizing neighborhoods by providing more parks, affordable housing and other infrastructure that add to the city's quality of life.

Refocusing the city's attention on infrastructure such as streets and flood control.

I'm not opposed to Sylvester Turner. He's my second choice, and if he winds up in the inevitable runoff with either Sanchez or Berry, I'll support him. He had a rocky few weeks awhile ago, between the Rockets arena controversy and of course the whole Killer D's thing, but he seems to be back on track. Garnet Coleman has said he'll support Turner's candidacy, so there appears to be no hard feelings stemming from Turner's closeness to Tom Craddick. He's got a base, and he's got money, and he'll be a force to be reckoned with.

That said, I continue to believe that the two putative frontrunners - Sanchez and Turner, who are also the two who've run before - have cost themselves momentum by getting into the race so late. Bill White and Michael Berry have been very active, and they have signs up everywhere. Their supporters have been in place doing ground work for months now. This is going to be a close race between four reasonably qualified candidates (yes, even Boy Wonder qualifies) and frankly I'd be worried about ceding any advantage. I'll get a better feel for this when I see a poll, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if these four are all within ten percentage points of each other.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 06, 2003 to Election 2003 | TrackBack