Houston’s two remaining candidates for mayor appear to have cooled their earlier support of local Proposition B now that it has been approved by voters and the candidates find themselves an election away from becoming the person in charge of carrying out its promise.
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and state Sen. John Whitmire both endorsed the proposition to require Houston to leave the Houston-Galveston Area Council if the regional planning body fails to offer it proportional voting power. It was approved overwhelmingly Nov. 7, but in a Wednesday forum hosted by Transportation Advocacy Group – Houston, both Jackson Lee and Whitmire said the path laid by the proposition will be difficult for the city to navigate.
“As it’s presently conducted, it is not the best pathway forward, but I will not rush to judgment before I assess how we can come together and have those monies distributed to ensure we’re unified as a region,” Jackson Lee told dozens of elected officials and transportation advocates from around the region gathered in the Royal Sonesta ballroom.
Whitmire joked about the proposition’s promise to make the regional council more fair to Houston and argued that during upcoming negotiations the city needs to ensure it is being fair to governments in the surrounding region, as well.
“Yes, we got the petition to be fair to Houston. Who the heck wouldn’t sign that petition?” Whitmire said.
Both noted the risk of losing federal funding distributed by H-GAC if Houston simply withdrew from the council, concerns that were outlined in an August memo sent by City Attorney Arturo Michel to Mayor Sylvester Turner.
The next mayor’s negotiations with H-GAC will be a crucial first step to funding any large transit projects in the city of Houston, both said.
In a room populated with officials from surrounding cities and counties, both candidates expressed interest in unity with H-GAC partners in the interest of improving transit across the region.
We are headed into Thanksgiving week so I’m going to keep this brief.
The stated intent of the Fair For Houston/Prop B organizers was for this item to lead to a new agreement via negotiations. It does not specify any numeric requirements. This has been covered before. As long as everyone goes into the negotiations in good faith, and so far that seems to be the case, we ought to be able to come to an agreement.
The question of what happens if the negotiations fail and Houston exist H-GAC remains an open question, at least to me. The Fair For Houston/Prop B organizers have said they consulted with lawyers on this. Maybe some further consultation is in order.
But seriously, I think everyone wants this to continue to work. So, you know, work towards that goal. If you don’t want to be the Mayor that has to deal with a exit from H-GAC, then don’t be that Mayor.
There’s also some stuff in the story, which you can read for yourself, about the two candidates’ approach to the I-45 project. Suffice it to say that I prefer SJL’s approach to Whitmire’s. Your mileage may vary.