Mayoral candidate leads UH lecture
Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker plans to cut costs while launching initiatives that will increase the number of Houston parks if elected mayor.
‘(Parker) is so accessible. She’s very bright, so she can answer fully,’ said Renee Cross, associate director of the Center for Public Policy.
The UH Government Internship Program invites elected officials from various levels of government to lecture each semester’s interns about public service.
‘Learning about how local politics worked was refreshing to me,’ political science junior Taylor Kilroy said.
Parker, who serves as Houston’s city controller, spoke on Friday with UH Center for Public Policy’s Government interns about animal control, city parks, graffiti and working in local government.
‘The next mayor is going to be cutting budgets, and hopefully, the next mayor will not be laying people off. More than 70 percent of the city’s budget is salary and overhead, so that’s where the money is,’ Parker said.
One third of the city budget goes to the police department, with the remaining two-thirds going to public safety, Parker said, leaving little money for projects to improve the quality of life for Houstonians.
‘You hope that by carefully managing the budget, you’ll be able to make progress on all of those things,’ Parker said.
Parker said she hopes the budget will allow an increase in the number of parks in Houston through property donations.’ Community members and property owners also need to help increase the number of parks, she added.
She also called the development of the inner city a problem that filled potential open spaces with townhomes and other developments.
She urged community members to claim their own neighborhoods and parks by maintaining lawns as volunteers.
‘I’ll make sure I don’t waste a penny of your tax dollars and every dollar I can, I will put it to making a greener Houston. I want you to say you’ll pledge me a certain hours a month picking up trash from your neighborhood and mowing the park down the street,’ she said.
In addition to supporting eco-friendly Houstonians, Parker has plans for natural water features, such as Buffalo Bayou. She wants to prevent the bayous from becoming sterile by planting shrubbery along the shore. The mayoral candidate also sees potential for citywide interconnected trails in the shores of the bayou.
‘We have a necklace of bayous in this city that we unfortunately channelized and concreted in before we realized what an asset they were,’ she said.
Parker said the city needs to have a ‘graffiti-abatement van’ to patrol the city for graffiti and immediately paint over it.
Parker also said working with animal rescue crews and funding more spay-and-neuter programs would control the stray animal over-population crisis.
She criticized term limits as limiting municipal officials’ experience in office and cutting away their ability to effect change.
‘Some of these really big initiatives take time when you plant the seed, water the seed, start getting your colleagues to help you and finally you get it down. Six years is a very, very short time,’ she said.
In addition to speaking with the GIP interns, Parker speaks to accounting graduate students about municipal budgeting and to Taxation associate professor Saleha Khumawala’s Government and Nonprofit Accounting course every semester.
‘We have to own our government,’ Parker said on her acceptance of the invitation.
Parker encouraged students to find a cause they were passionate about and work toward it.
‘The next mayor of Houston will change the face of the city,’ she said. ‘Each mayor does.’
Parker will vie against At-Large Councilman Peter Brown, Former City Attorney Gene Locke and Harris County Department of Education trustee Roy Morales the mayoral race, which will culminate on Nov. 3