Funding pro-transit candidates

Rad Sallee’s column yesterday was of great interest to me.

Developer Ed Wulfe and Citizens for Public Transportation, which he chairs, played a key role in winning voter approval of Metro’s long-term transit plan in 2003.

Since that tough campaign and razor-thin victory, the organization has been largely dormant, but that’s about to change, Wulfe said last week.

The group has reactivated and is soliciting contributions to two political action committees that will support pro-transit candidates. CPT will probably play a role in this fall’s elections, he said.

“We want to support those people who carry the flag in Washington, particularly to ensure that Houston is in the forefront in getting our share of transit dollars,” Wulfe said. One of the PACs focuses on federal elections and the other on state and local ones.

I don’t know who’d be running for a “carry the flag in Washington”-type election this fall. I’m sure there will be some Council candidates worth supporting (and opposing) for these purposes, but that strikes me as a separate deal.

2008, on the other hand…

Wulfe — not to be confused with Metro board chairman David Wolff — said reviving the committee was his idea, not Metro’s.

Its resurrection could be viewed in part as a shot across the bow of U.S. Rep. John Culberson, who serves on a House subcommittee that decides transit funding and who opposes having any part of the planned University light rail line on Richmond.

Although Metro has praised Culberson for his support of various transit projects, it intends to put rails on Richmond at least as far west as Greenway Plaza, where Wulfe has his offices.

“I’m reluctant to single out John Culberson,” Wulfe said. But he added, “We want our representatives in Washington to be fully behind a comprehensive system.”

I’ve said all that I know to say about the electoral math in CD07. I’d certainly love to see a well-funded challenger go against Culberson, but given the nature of that district I can’t say that a pro-transit platform (of this kind) would carry the day. The pernicious thing about how CD07 is drawn is that the people who have demonstrated that they oppose Culberson’s anti-Richmond rail stance are stuck with and outweighed by people considerably outside that region. For a candidate to appeal to enough of the latter group while still giving the former what they want will be a delicate balance. Not impossible, I believe, but not easy. I hope Wulfe and his CPT mates are thinking long and hard about how to achieve that balance.

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One Response to Funding pro-transit candidates

  1. jboyd says:

    Increasing transit ridership translates into more lane capacity and more parking spaces for drivers.

    Eventually people from the suburbs have to get off the freeway, and the inner loop is a destination for many.

    Therefore I believe the best appeal to the people in the western and northwestern part of CD07 would be to emphasize that inner loop rail benefits them even if they never use it themselves.

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