Wednesday, October 17, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 40


 
 









 

Candidates sling mud during poorly 
attended forum

Koroush Ghanean
Daily Cougar Staff

If the amount of audience interest that Lee Brown brought to the mayoral candidate forum held Tuesday at southwest Houston's Jewish Community Center is any indication of his chances in the coming elections, then Brown would seem to have little to worry about.

Brown arrived 20 minutes late to the forum, but brought some previously unseen crowd enthusiasm with him.

"I'm sorry to be late, I was just at (an) ambassador's house and the trip delayed me a little," Brown said. "I couldn't not show up at his house after I promised him that I would be there tonight."

Before Brown arrived, candidates Orlando Sanchez and Christopher Bell, who are both City Council members, spoke to a less-than-attentive crowd. After Brown's arrival, the real forum began, with random bursts of applause for each candidate.


Jason Yuen/The Daily Cougar


Republican City Councilman Orlando Sanchez, left, Democratic Mayor Lee Brown and Democratic City Councilman Chris Bell square off at a mayoral candidate forum Tuesday evening at the Jewish Community Center in southwest Houston.

During the forum, each candidate was allowed three minutes to answer questions that the audience had written on note cards beforehand. The questions ranged from the possibilities of terrorist acts in the city of Houston to the construction that is plaguing downtown.

One controversial question regarded healthcare and other benefits, if any, that city workers who are currently in same-sex relationships should receive. A referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot would, if passed, prohibit the city from extending these benefits to homosexual employees.

This question received a consensus agreement from Democrats Bell and Brown, who compared the lack of benefits for same-sex relationships to discrimination. They both promised that, if either were elected, no form of discrimination would be allowed during their respective terms in office.

Sanchez, a Republican, didn't agree, saying it was not a matter of discrimination.

"Being an immigrant, I have experienced discrimination before," Sanchez said. "But this isn't a matter of discrimination, but of priorities, and I just don't think that this is a priority."

After that, the forum turned into a mud-slinging contest, from Brown attacking the inexperience of his opponents to Sanchez attacking Brown's leadership capabilities.

"I have been a civil servant for 40 years now," Brown said. "My opponent Christopher Bell's experience is with a two-man law firm that went out of business a little while back, while the only business that Sanchez knows how to run is the no-profit business of City Hall."

The only candidate who did not participate in the insults was Bell, who actually turned the insults that were hurled at him into jokes that warmed up the crowd.

One of the biggest concerns voiced by the audience was about the construction going on in downtown Houston. Each candidate offered his own way to fix the problem.

"We shouldn't have people driving down one street, then be detoured to another street which detours into yet another street," Bell said. "We need to have a grid technology system which would eliminate problems such as these."

The candidates will participate in another debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, at 7 p.m. Thursday at downtown's South Texas College of Law.
 

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