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Thursday, March 16, 2017
Pasadena, Texas has a chance to put voter discrimination behind it
The best chance Pasadena, Texas has of putting it’s voting discrimination past behind is electing as new mayor the current at-large council member who has been a consistent opponent of the illegal redistricting.
Pat Van Houte for Pasadena Mayor
Pat Van Houte has been an elected council member since 2009 when she ran on opposition to an expensive street upgrade that destroyed resident’s homes. While there are seven candidates running for mayor she has the most city council experience and is the only one running on small donations and shoe leather. She refuses to take donations over $200 and also refuses to take donations from those who do business with the city. She surprised the city establishment when her grass roots campaign involving block-walking the entire city of over 130,000 residents defeated the well-funded traditional mayor-supported candidate for one of the new at-large positions.
Van Houte said she also would pull the plug on the city's efforts to appeal the verdict in the voting rights case.
"The judge spent a week and a half hearing from many witnesses, looking at a lot of information and made a decision. The city has spent almost $2 million on the lawsuit already, and I don't think it is in our best interest to spend more public money on this," she said.
In elected, Van Houte said she would work to improve communications with residents and make city government more open.
"There are many things on the city website that are outdated. We need to do a better job of keeping it up to date. Department heads need to understand that there is an expectation that they will provide good information on a timely basis," she said. "I also want to set up a basic application for city boards and commissions so that anyone who is interested can apply and be considered and it would not be just who the politician knows getting appointed every time."
"Each person who has filed for mayor so far has government experience, but (for) the majority of them it's not at the city level," she said. "I have been in city government for almost eight years. I know who the department heads are. I know what departments do what and the processes of how things get done in the city. I know the backstory on many of the projects and things that we're doing. This is a stronger foundation going in, either to keep things going or to change things - having the background on it helps.
"As an elected official, I have always looked at each issue on its own merits," she said. "I don't vote as I do because the other people are voting that way. I don't vote based on promises to city contractors."
"I'm bilingual, which will help. It's better to be able to communicate directly with someone in their own language rather than they try to communicate in a language in which they're not comfortable or having to get someone to translate," she said. "I've made an effort to get around and see as much as of the city as possible and to know what the issues are in each neighborhood. I think I have seen more of the city than the other candidates."
There are seven candidates running for the mayor position and the current long-term mayor is term-limited. Pat Van Houte is favored to be in the runoff with her recent at-large election victory and continued scandals from the present mayor and his appointments.
The major difficulty she faces is the lack of funding with some of the Republican candidates receiving support from the city contractors and businesses on campaigns that started a year ago and the addition of a couple of last minute entrants into the race spreading the opposition.