Bell focuses on technology,
importance of staying informed
By Melissa Kummer
Daily Cougar Staff
It is vital for UH students and their peers
to become educated about the electoral process and the issues, said one
of the major candidates in the Houston mayoral race Monday.
Johnny Kow/The Daily Cougar
Houston City Councilman and
mayoral candidate Chris Bell addresses a group of UH students at the Cougar
Den on Monday.
Houston City Councilman Chris Bell visited
UH to introduce himself and his platform to the University community in
preparation for the Nov. 6 election.
The event, which took place in the University
Center Cougar Den, was organized by Cougars for Bell, a student organization.
Bell spoke about the importance of being
an informed voter and how college students should get out and vote.
"It's critical that you be involved," Bell
said. "It's your world that we are talking about."
In addition to the incumbent, Lee P. Brown,
Bell is also running against fellow city council member Orlando Sanchez.
Bell, who was elected to the city council
in 1997, is currently supported by 15 percent of Houston voters, according
to a Houston Chronicle/KHOU-TV poll
The same poll shows support for Brown at
36 percent, with 19 percent preferring Sanchez.
Bell said his campaign is focused on issues
that will affect both the University community and the city as a whole.
Among the issues that have garnered attention
for Bell are traffic and the condition of Houston's streets. Filling every
pothole is a major priority, he said.
"I never thought so much of my political
career would focus on potholes," Bell said, adding that certain issues,
such as traffic, can compromise the entire
quality of life in a city if not addressed.
"We cannot have every major thoroughfare
in Houston looking like a parking lot," Bell said.
Bell said he hopes to solve these and other
problems by making Houston a more technologically advanced city.
This aspect of his campaign has gained
Bell the support of a portion of the younger generation, according to a
"Our generation is the generation of technology,"
said Shawn Baksh, president of Cougars for Bell. "Bell's focus is on technology."
Bell said he hopes to create programs that
would allow Houstonians to pay traffic tickets, apply for permits and even
pay water bills online.
"We can use technology to better manage
the utility of city services," he said.
Bell has coined the term "customer-driven
government" to explain a new way of government and citizen interaction.
This new system uses common sense
and basic principles to make government
more responsive to the needs of taxpayers, Bell said.
"(Customer-driven government) was born
out of frustration and is not driven by ideology," Bell said. "What I am
asking for is a chance as mayor to further
In essence, taxpayers are customers of
the government, he said.
Bell told the audience he plans to propose
several new programs if elected. One program, called CitiStat, is a comprehensive
management system that
relies heavily on technology.
Similar ideas have been used elsewhere
and have also been adapted for crime management, he said, referring to
other cities (including New York City
and Baltimore) that have increased the
use of available technology and found it beneficial.
Bell said the cost of implementing such
programs is merely a fraction of the money saved.
"Why can't Houston have this?" Bell asked.
"We can and will if I am your next mayor."