Candidate profile: Chris Bell plans to modernize Houston
Mayoral candidate Chris Bell has a campaign that focuses on improving streets’ breaking condition, law enforcement’s technology and the city’s financial crisis.
The former U.S. Congressman, Houston Councilman and 2006 Texas governor Democratic nominee will be another familiar face on the Houston mayoral ballot.
“I certainly want to make sure college is a reality for more individuals,” Bell said. “Obviously, college isn’t for everybody. But, I’ve been a believer that when young people leave high school, they need to be prepared for one of two things — to go to work or go to college.”
Bell said he was the first to announce his campaign for Houston mayor and is the biggest advocate for education in the campaign.
In contrast to his opponents, Bell said he has a vision for increasing the availability of early education to those in areas where primary education is not available.
“I think improving public schools in Texas is the most important issue,” Bell said. “Some think that’s not the purview of the city; I think equivocally. I think we need to partner with others to improve public schools.”
His blueprints aim to make use of underutilized space in the 31 library branches in Harris County.
These rooms would be remodeled for pre-kindergarten classroom space. He believes that making early education more available can be the best insurance policy to ensure later success in school.
As an equal rights proponent, Bell supports the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and feels it is a way to modernize Houston.
“I see (HERO) as a nondiscrimination ordinance, and modern cities don’t discriminate,” Bell said. “Every major city in Texas has passed an equal rights ordinance, so there’s really no excuse for us not to have one here in Houston.”
On the note of equality, Bell is also supporter of women’s rights.
In a press release on Women’s Equality Day, Bell said that, as mayor, he would defend Planned Parenthood and other organizations providing women accessibility to a variety of reproductive healthcare services.
Former Mayor Annise Parker established Houston First while in office, a program that deals with the quality of life for Houstonians and the city’s economic prosperity and development. Bell, however, disagrees with the program.
“It was a board she created during her administration that I believe has operated without a large degree of transparency,” Bell said. “Since I am a big fan of transparency in government, I have some problems with it. I don’t know if we’ll completely undo it, but I certainly want to take another look at how it’s operating and change some of it.”
Bell said he wants to modernize Houston and strengthening its reputation of being a land of opportunity.
“What I talk a great deal about in the course of the campaign is modernizing Houston, whether it is taking a more modern approach to the challenges we face… (and) implementing technological solutions or modernizing the type of equipment we use,” Bell said. “We have a lot of challenges, but I am an optimistic candidate. I believe that we are going to find a solution.”