Having dispatched with the District Council races yesterday, the Chron continues with the schedule I’d hoped they’d follow by making their endorsements in the At Large races. As I thought, they went with incumbents Sue Lovell in #2 and Jolanda Jones in #5. The other two were not what I thought they’d be.
At-Large Position 1
• In a crowded field of eight candidates vying to replace outgoing incumbent and mayoral candidate Peter Brown, the best choice for voters is health care management specialist Herman Litt, a former trustee and board chairman of the Houston Community College. He is also the past president of Southwest Houston 2000, which focused on lowering crime and spurring economic development in the area.
As a qualification for office, Litt cites his experience as a consensus builder in bringing the fractured HCC board together. He has an imposing list of endorsements, including former Houston mayors Fred Hofheinz and Bob Lanier.
Litt pledges to work to extend Houston’s parks and hike-and-bike trails and to establish a regional crime lab to replace the troubled Houston police facility.
I had guessed they’d pick Stephen Costello, but that was strictly a guess, as there are too many well-qualified candidates in this race to get a good feel for it. Litt is one of those strong candidates and a fine choice, and he does have a lot of backing, though Costello and Karen Derr have won plenty of group endorsements as well. Litt hasn’t done as well with fundraising as I originally expected, but perhaps he’ll get a late push from this. In any event, in a low-profile, low-dollar year like this, the Chron endorsement is likely to be a boost, so my congratulations to Herman Litt for getting it.
At-Large Position 4
• In this seat being vacated by outgoing councilman and controller candidate Ronald Green, one candidate stands out among the field of four. He is C.O. “Brad” Bradford, an attorney, veteran Houston police officer and department chief for seven years under Mayors Bob Lanier and Lee Brown. Not surprisingly, Bradford touts his law-enforcement career as the prime reason voters should put him on City Council.
He says the city needs a long term plan to control the rising costs of public safety, which consumes the bulk of the city’s operational budget. High on his agenda is closing the dilapidated city jail and establishing a joint booking and jail facility with Harris County.
This one surprised me. The Chron endorsed Pat Lykos over Bradford in the DA race last year, saying that Bradford’s “under-aggressive responses” to the HPD Crime Lab scandal “weakened his leadership credentials”. They were also scathingly critical of Bradford earlier in the year for his role in the K-Mart Kiddie Roundup after a settlement was reached in the last of the lawsuits. Add that to Bradford’s campaign finance report issues, and, well, I just didn’t expect them to endorse him. I guess you never know.
Meanwhile, the Chron also disposes of the last of the Constitutional amendments on the ballot by endorsing Prop 10, which would extend the term of office for the governing boards of Emergency Services Districts from two years to four.
Extending the terms is recommended for two reasons: cost and efficiency. Under the current system, in which members serve staggered, two-year terms, elections must be held annually. This is a pointless expense, considering the typically light turnout and, more importantly, the urgent need for longer terms, as Proposition 10 would provide.
Four-year terms are preferable because governing-board members need a threshold of knowledge about the areas of service covered by the ESDs. This is more likely to be achieved with a four-year term than a two-year term. The many ESDs around the state whose boards are appointed would be unaffected by this proposed change.
So it’s unanimous, the Chron says to vote Yes for all eleven props. I’m still not sure about some of the others, but this one seems reasonable enough to me.