Thursday, October 25, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 46


City Council candidates debate 'fair share'

By Ken Fountain
Daily Cougar Staff

Three candidates in the race for the District D seat of the Houston City Council participated in a debate Wednesday night in the ballroom of Oberholtzer Hall. The seat is being vacated by term-limited Councilman Jew Don Boney.

Ken Fountain/The Daily Cougar

Darryl Carter, right, Gerald Womack and Ada Edwards, three of the candidates for the District D City Council race, debate the issues in the Oberholtzer Hall Ballroom Wednesday night.

The participants in the discussion were lobbyist and lawyer Darryl Carter, real estate developer Gerald Womack and community activist Ada Edwards.

Absent were housing developer Christopher Oliver, accountant Homer Clark and lawyer Ronald McKinney.

The event was co-sponsored by the UH chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and several UH black Greek organizations.
The audience members were primarily black UH students.

District D, one of two predominantly black districts (the other is District B), encompasses the Third Ward (including the University), the Fourth Ward and the
Texas Medical Center. It extends through southwest Houston into Fort Bend County.

The first topic for consideration was how the candidates, if elected, would help bring District D its "fair share" from local government.

"I think we need to identify resources that are available for our community," Edwards said, "from any entity, whether it's city, county, state, federal. Then we
need to prioritize what we need in our community first.

"You've got to be bold enough sometimes to step into the front of the line. To say our community has been wanting these things for a very, very long time, and
we've been given the old okey-dokey, same old-same old," she said.

Edwards lauded her own history of "bringing diverse communities together to build those partnerships so we can have a strong, solid voice."

Womack, who attended the UH business school as a teenager, said he supported Mayor Lee P. Brown's philosophy of "neighborhood-oriented government,"
which consolidates neighborhood civic clubs into "super-neighborhood coalitions." District D has eight such coalitions, he said.

"I believe that is the process that we should be going in," Womack said. "Always, politicians talk about what they're going to do, and what we need to have, and
they do talk about organizing. But the issue in a City Council seat is, what do the people want?"

Womack said another key aspect of the job is "you've got to have a Council person who can bring votes to the table. It's not one neighborhood against the
other. It's about, at the end of the day, how many votes (on the council) can you get? How can you coalesce with the other City Council people to get what you

Carter, who also went to UH as an undergraduate and a law student, said "what you have to keep in mind when you talk about 'fair share' is history."

During the last five years, Carter said, District D has received more Capital Improvement Plan funding than any other district in the city. CIP provides funds
for major improvement projects, such as road construction, wastewater and drainage projects.

"The problem is you're addressing issues that are 50, 100 years old," he said. "We have some pipes in this district that are older than any of us, multiplied by
five. We're still using them. We have to replace those. We have a greater need than the money can ever meet."

The problems "usually boil down to politics," Carter said. "And we need to take the politics out of the process, and start relying on sound policy decisions." His
12 years of experience in lobbying City Hall gave him the knowledge to do just that, he said.

The candidates also discussed the Metropolitan Transit Authority light rail project, which is the subject of two ballot propositions (all three support the
project); the controversy over Houston Fire Department staffing levels; and the use of affirmative action in the granting of city contracts.

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