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District D runoff overview

The last of the three City Council runoffs to get an overview story is in District D, and it gets a pretty decent story for its wait.

The runoff for the District D seat on Houston City Council will be won and lost along Cullen in the southern reaches of the city. For this is where candidates Wanda Adams and Lawrence Allen Jr. have their storefront campaign headquarters, 12 blocks apart.

The area also is where both candidates have worked on some of Houston’s grittier problems, earning their credentials as grass-roots public servants. Cullen, its empty storefronts and busted sidewalks intertwined with signs of redevelopment and neighborhood pride, symbolizes a district full of need and promise.

Adams, on leave as a coordinator of the city’s Go Green Initiative for recycling and other environmental programs, has the support of the district’s outgoing councilwoman, Ada Edwards. At least three other council members are in Adams’ corner, along with former Mayor Lee Brown.

Allen, on leave as special projects coordinator for the Houston Independent School District, where he rose from wood shop teacher to high school principal, is backed by at least four of the five candidates who did not make the runoff produced by the Nov. 6 election.

Allen also is an elected member of the state Board of Education, having replaced his mother, state Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, who is helping him in the city campaign.

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The candidates differ somewhat on property taxes, though — an issue that has echoed at City Hall.

Rejecting conservatives’ call for a substantial tax rate cut, City Council recently lowered the municipal property tax rate by an eighth of a cent to 64.37 cents a year per $100 of assessed value. That would result in a savings of $1.25 on property with taxable value of $100,000.

Adams, 40, said homeowners deserve a tax rate cut, especially if rising property tax payments threaten to make their residences unaffordable.

“We can come up with ways to see if we can bring it to a medium,” she said, meaning the city should carefully balance its property tax needs against the ability of homeowners to pay.

Allen, 46, said the city should not be afraid to try to ask for justifiable tax increases.

“If the people understand the needs of the city (to improve services), they will not object to contributing more,” he said. “We do it in church every Sunday; we trust in something good.”

Asked how he might do things differently from the outgoing councilwoman, Allen said “there are some tremendous disconnects” between district residents and City Hall, and that he would work to bridge the communication gaps.

Adams, on the other hand, said she would operate differently from Edwards by opening a branch service office in the Fort Bend County part of the district.

All due respect to Wanda Adams, but I’m with Lawrence Allen on the question of city taxes. Having said that, I’ll pull a Peter Brown here and say that both candidates are fine by me. I fully expect that whoever wins will do a good job.

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One Comment

  1. Jeff Y. says:

    I agree with you and I think Allen stands out well on issues and his knowledge of the city. I’d like to be better represented. That’s my priority.