UHCL The Signal
The official student newspaper of the University of Houston-Clear Lake

Campus provides political platform for candidates

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At a political forum hosted by area interest groups, politicians discussed topics that are on local residents’ minds Sept. 26.  Pictured from left: candidates Peter Brown, Gene Locke, Annise Parker, Wayne Garrison and Roy Morales.
At a political forum hosted by area interest groups, politicians discussed topics that are on local residents’ minds Sept. 26. Pictured from left: candidates Peter Brown, Gene Locke, Annise Parker, Wayne Garrison and Roy Morales.

Matt Griesmyer

The Signal Staff

Members of Houston’s political system gathered at the University of Houston-Clear Lake campus Sept. 26 for a political forum hosted by the Bay Area Association of Democratic Women, Bay Area New Democrats, and The College Democrats UHCL student organization.

Scheduled to attend were Mike Sullivan, current District E representative for Houston City Council seeking re-election; Wayne Garrison, candidate for District E representative; Peter Brown, Annise Parker, Roy Morales and Gene Locke, candidates for Mayor of Houston.

All candidates were present save for Sullivan. Due to a scheduling conflict Sullivan was unable to attend.

Prior to the mayoral forum, the candidates for city council were asked to comment on issues that are on residents’ minds within the South Houston and Clear Lake area. 

Garrison, as the only candidate for District E in attendance, took this opportunity to speak on behalf of the residents that he is hoping to represent.

“Residents need to see where their tax dollars are, or are not, coming back to this district,” Garrison said.  “I want to create an atmosphere through accessibility and accountability.”

The UHCL campus lies within the boundaries of District E, many of the issues that effect the area residents can have a profound impact on the school as well.

Issues that were addressed at the forum included recycling, pollution, street repair, flooding and traffic.

One issue that is constant in the Clear Lake area is that of flooding.

The UHCL campus sits on a major waterway that feeds directly into Clear Lake, just over half a mile to the northeast of the Student Services and Classroom building.

All mayoral candidates were well aware of the flooding concerns swimming in residents’ and students’ heads.

“The only way to deal with drainage is to do a watershed by watershed analysis, create a prioritized list of projects to alleviate the problems and work our way through that project plan,” Parker said.

Brown was in favor of multipurpose green space in golf courses and parks to serve as drainage and retention areas.

Another issue that was a topic of concern was that of redistricting.

UHCL sits within District E; an area that ranges from FM 528 along the Southern border, to as far north as Kingwood – an area ranging nearly 40 miles, north to south.  When it comes to issues regarding the residents of these areas, priorities can be vastly different.

For example, flooding in the South Houston, South Belt and Clear Lake areas is a much more prevalent issue than it is with the northern areas of district E.  This difference can cause certain problems and priorities to be overlooked in order to benefit the district as a whole.

“Neither Kingwood nor Clear Lake can stand on their own,” Garrison said.

Garrison continued to explain that in order for the Clear Lake or Kingwood areas to stand on their own, there is a minimum required constituent population that must be reached.  Both areas lack the sufficient population, and must be joined with surrounding districts during redistricting.

Any redistricting will take place after the 2010 census, and laws must be followed in order to prevent discrimination.  All candidates acknowledged that redistricting and separation of Kingwood from the South Houston area will probably happen, and it will not be a friendly process.

Redistricting is important to all candidates, including Sullivan.

“I am highly opposed to separating,” Sullivan said. “Kingwood and Clear Lake need to be in one district.”

Sullivan is concerned about the districts that Clear Lake, including UHCL, and surrounding areas will be connected with if ties to Kingwood are severed. If the areas along Clear Lake are connected with another district, Sullivan believes that the resources for Clear Lake projects will be at risk.

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