That makes him number five of some as yet unknown number to make that announcement.
Houston City Councilman Stephen Costello pitched himself Monday as a no-frills, no-nonsense politician who would address the city’s problems like the engineer he is if voters elect him mayor this fall.
Costello, a wonky at-large councilman who chairs the body’s budget committee, told supporters packed into a downtown ballroom that he certainly was not the “flashiest” politician, but a practical problem-solver who would tackle the city’s looming pension liabilities by winning local control over the city’s fire pension system.
If nothing is done, Costello said, Houston could face a “catastrophic financial crisis.”
“Houstonians should have the authority to craft our own solution rather than continuing to leave our fate in the hands of politicians in Austin,” Costello said, drawing applause. “Instead of playing politics on this issue as so many have done, and continue to do today, I am going to lead on it.”
Costello said as mayor he would also launch a “Neighborhoods to Standards” effort to fill potholes and relax congestion, and increase funding for police. The name was reminiscent of former Mayor Bob Lanier, who launched a “Neighborhoods to Standard” program to target small sections of the city with massive infusions of street repairs, sidewalks, street lights and other basic amenities.
Let me say up front that I like CM Costello. I think he’s been a good Council member, I think Renew Houston was a big accomplishment that not many would have taken on, and I can think of a lot of people who would not be my pick for Mayor given the choice between Costello and them. Having said all that, I’ve got to repeat something I said in my public safety manifesto: What makes any candidate think they can succeed on this issue where Mayor Parker has not? How does CM Costello, or anyone who wants to campaign on this issue, plan to get traction in a Legislature that wants the city and the firefighters to work it out between themselves? I’m willing to accept the possibility that there’s something Mayor Parker could have done, or could have done differently, that Candidate X can and will do. But I’m going to need to hear specifics and some corroboration from at least one legislator before I take it as anything other than rhetoric along the same lines as “we need to cut waste and encourage growth”.
Anyway. At this point, I believe CM Oliver Pennington is the only major candidate that is already known to be running who hasn’t done the “official campaign announcement/kickoff” thing. Among the candidates not currently known to be running but widely believed to be in, well, there’s Adrian Garcia. He’ll say whatever it is he’s going to say when he’s ready to say it. Costello’s press release from the event is beneath the fold, and Texas Leftist has more.
Small businessman, engineer and Houston City Council Member Steve Costello will formally launch his campaign for mayor today. Steve’s campaign announcement will begin with a morning run and a number of events with supporters across portions of the city. Steve’s announcement events will conclude with a public address at the Hilton of Americas in downtown Houston.
“I’m running for mayor because Houston is the greatest city in America, but I recognize we have real problems that need to be fixed. We simply can, and must, do better,” said Costello. “You can’t drive down our pot-hole ridden streets, waste hours stuck in traffic, or examine the city’s financial health without thinking ‘we can do better.’ I may not be the flashiest candidate in the race, but as an engineer and experienced City Council Member, I am the most qualified to look at our problems and roll up my sleeves to find logical solutions. That’s exactly how I’ll lead as Houston’s next mayor.”
A competitive triathlete, Costello was joined at sunrise by a dozen supporters for a morning run. Part of their route was along Shepherd Avenue, which is currently undergoing an extensive road and drainage construction project. In his remarks later today, Costello will emphasize his commitment to financial responsibility coupled with innovative solutions for our city’s financial and public works infrastructure.
“With the ‘pay as you go’ system that I helped pass, over the next 15 years we will lower the city’s overall debt by $1.5 billion and increase annual funding by $600 million,” said Costello. “As part of this effort, we are building more roads and taking on less debt, which is a smart way for the city to do business.” Based on his strong infrastructure record, Costello was elected Chairman of an 8-county regional Transportation Policy Council in February of this year. The Transportation Policy Council will direct nearly $2.4 billion in capital improvement mobility projects through 2018.
Costello will also put a premium focus on public safety, and the issue of crime will be a central part of his campaign. “The city should have no higher priority than ensuring the physical safety of Houstonians,” said Costello. He plans to release a program in the coming weeks describing how a Costello Administration would fund HPD Chief Charles McClelland’s recent request for over 1,500 new HPD additional patrol officers and investigators, as well as updated equipment needs. “We don’t need to raise taxes to protect our residents. What we need a smarter and more efficient local government.”
“In my engineering firm, we always pride ourselves by delivering work to our customers on time, and on budget. That’s exactly the approach I will have as mayor,” said Costello. “However, we can’t have a serious discussion about city finances without talking about our looming pension crisis.
“Typical politicians don’t want to talk about our pension crisis, and those that do usually get it wrong,” said Costello. “If we don’t reform our pension system in a way that is both fair to our public safety and municipal personnel as well as our taxpayers, and fix it soon, Houston will face a catastrophic financial crisis.”
Costello has repeatedly challenged his opponents to demand local control from the state government on Houston pension-related matters. “As the state’s largest city and the one with the most pressing pension problem, Houstonians should have the authority to craft our own solution rather than leave our fate in the hands of politicians in Austin.”
“Over the past 8 years, I have admired Steve Costello’s ability to lead as a member of the Memorial Park Conservancy, a businessman and Council Member,” said Houston philanthropist Mindy Hildebrand. “He has the heart to serve Houstonians, and the experience to find solutions to make our City stronger and a better place to live.”