Endorsement watch: Cantu and Alcorn

Two At Large endorsements are up, beginning with Richard Cantu in the open At Large #3 race.

Richard Cantu

Perhaps it was coincidence that Richard Cantu, 54, sat in the center of the table at our screening with candidates for this race, but we found him to have the right mix of personal and professional experience while also seeming to speak to the largest groups of Houstonians.

A native Houstonian who grew up on the Northside after his parents moved here from Mexico in the late 1950s, Cantu touts 30 years of community work, whether it was serving as the director of citizens’ assistance under two mayors, Lee Brown and Bill White, serving as treasurer for the Harris County Department of Education, or heading the East Aldine Management District. While all this experience matters, what struck us most were his answers to questions about public safety. He spoke with gravitas.

Cantu lost his daughter to gun violence and has been a longtime supporter of building community contact and relationships with law enforcement. He told us he wants a police officer in every park, which may sound alarming to some. He added quickly that this officer would not be decked out in intimidating gear, but would instead present as a partner — part of a return to community policing.

“Youth should feel safe around police officers,” he said. “They should want to run towards them when they’re in danger.”

My interview with Richard Cantu is here. Other At Large #3 candidates I spoke to:

Donnell Cooper
Twila Carter
Casey Curry
James Joseph

It’s a crowded field and there are several decent choices. I have no idea who might be in the best position to make it to the runoff.

Over in At Large #5, they gave an enthusiastic and well-deserved endorsement to incumbent CM Sallie Alcorn.

CM Sallie Alcorn

In her first four-year term, Alcorn, 60, has made a difference in Houstonians’ everyday lives. She’s attacked problems including sidewalks to nowhere, stray dogs, lousy drainage, noise from bars and big trucks that park illegally on neighborhood streets. She’s been all in for improving Houston’s drainage.

Alcorn’s superpower is that she understands the complicated, boring parts of Houston city government — a valuable rarity in this term-limited era. She worked at City Hall for a decade before running for office, serving as chief of staff for three councilmembers, and as a senior staff analyst for the city flood recovery officer. Before that, she worked in Houston’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

She’s a workhorse, not a grandstander. Acronyms, thorny problems and dull meetings don’t faze her. She relishes both the tedium of picking apart the wording of proposed ordinances and the turbulence of seeking — really seeking — public input.

Houston is going to need that kind of councilmember in the next four years. As federal pandemic money dries up, a “fiscal cliff” looms for the city budget. And at the same time, too much of our city is broken. Alcorn is a champion for better drinking water infrastructure, better drainage, better streets and transportation — all of which, she’s aware, will cost money. Now more than ever, she says, the key is to ensure that the city budget matches residents’ priorities. (No. 1, in her estimation: law enforcement).

My interview with CM Alcorn is here, and as I noted yesterday, you should listen for the conversation about Fair For Houston/Yes on Prop B. Alcorn is the best current argument for keeping At Large Council seats, and you should vote for her. Her two opponents, as noted in the endorsement piece, are unserious and unworthy of consideration.

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