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At Large #1 runoff overview

I believe this will be the last of the runoff overview stories.

The runoff for an at-large City Council seat has devolved into a battle over the subtle connotations of the phrase “city contractor.”

One of the candidates for Position One, Stephen Costello, has worked as a drainage engineer for Houston, Harris County and numerous municipal utility districts. His opponent, Karen Derr, has said that government contractors like Costello and his supporters view Houston “as a big place to make money.”

“His support is heavily, heavily weighted with people who contract with the city of Houston,” said Derr, 50, who built a successful residential realty firm focused on the Heights area. She recently sold the company, but still has a real estate license. “My support is very broad-based with people who live in the city, regular folks, taxpayers.”

Costello acknowledged that his company, Costello Inc., has received about $3.5 million in Houston contracts over the past 18 years. But he called Derr’s attitude “offensive.”

“The people that back me are people who bring jobs to the city, who bring economic development to the city,” the 56-year-old said.

I get the impression that this race is the farthest beneath the radar among the runoffs. It hasn’t generated a whole lot of heat that I’ve seen. Each candidate has been endorsed by two of their former opponents, Herman Litt and Donald Cook for Derr, Rick Rodriguez and Lonnie Allsbrooks for Costello. For the record, I voted for Derr, but I don’t have anything bad to say about Costello. What do you think about this race?

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10 Comments

  1. Noel Freeman says:

    As a candidate for City Council, I got to spend a LOT of time with other candidates. Sometimes, I found myself spending more time with them than with my own family. As a result, I got to know many of them pretty well, including both Costello and Derr.

    I voted for Stephen Costello, and I think others should, too. Stephen and I ran on a number of the same issues, including infrastructure and drainage. He is a civil engineer with a background in flooding and drainage, and he has also served on the Memorial Park Conservancy for the last 13 years. He was chairman of the Conservancy for four years, until he resigned to run for City Council. His engineering firm was recently named the best place to work in Houston, which says a lot for how he runs his business and takes care of his employees. He knows how our City operates and how we get things done. He has the experience bridging the gap between the public and private sectors and he is well-respected among his peers.

    Stephen Costello is incredibly intelligent and tremendously well-qualified to serve on City Council. I have the utmost confidence in his ability to get things done and tackle the real issues we face everyday. He is a fair-minded, moderate candidate who truly understands the value of non-partisan city government, which people know is very important to me. He exercises a strongappreciation for the diversity of people and for the fiscal restraint we need with our City budget.

    Of particular note, however, is that I also think Stephen Costello has the temperament we need on City Council. He is thoughtful, deliberate, and doesn’t take politics personally, unlike his opponent.

    When I decided to place my support behind Stephen in his race, I felt his opponent, Karen Derr deserved enough respect for me to call her and explain my decision. Her immediate response was to accuse me of being paid off by the Costello campaign in exchange for my support. She was hostile, threatening and made it very clear she believes everything in politics is personal and should be treated as a personal attack against her if it isn’t the way she thinks it should be. She went so far as to call representatives of several organizations who endorsed me in my own race to slander me and impugn my character – all because I chose not to support her. Several other people I know have had similar experiences with Mrs. Derr. Houston does not need someone on City Council who is hostile, irrational and takes everything personally.

    That’s why I voted for Stephen Costello and why I think voters should as well.

  2. JJMB says:

    The Houston Area Realtors PAC endorsed Costello despite the fact that Derr is a realtor.

    That told me enough, then I saw Costello at a forum and he was everything that Noel Freeman describes above. He will represent all of Houston very well.

  3. Former Supporter of Noel says:

    Noel sure has a bone to pick. Is it because he did not get the HOPE Endorsement? ( he was running around town wearing their T shirt after they endorsed Bradford) Is it because he wants to make a run for a possible seat in the Heights? ( His last two election showings make that a far fetched idea) Is it because members of the LGBT community have helped Karen more than him? I don’t know but I do know he was one of the candidates that the engineers wanted on council and he got behind their last hope (Costello).

  4. Bill Eton says:

    Steve Costello was a Republican, then an Independent and now a Democrat. Noel Freeman was a Republican, then a Democrat and now back to being a Republican again. They make such a nice couple! It’s common knowledge Freeman blames Derr for his devastating loss to of all people, Brad Bradford. I never knew Mrs. Derr was so Omnipotent!

  5. Allison says:

    Oh former supporter of Noel, aka Karen Derr campaign surrogate.

    You should probably get your facts straight before you sound off.

    For instance Freeman is a member of HOPE because he’s a city employee. He’s come to various events we’ve had supporting health care reform and has always shown his support for HOPE and city employees.

    HOPE DID NOT ENDORSE in Freeman’s race because his opponent was going around town claiming he already had the endorsement, which lead to a nonendorsement.

    Houston would be lucky if Freeman decides to run again, and if you check the number of votes he received during this last election, you’ll find he got more votes than Karen Derr did in her race. So far fetched to have nearly 30,000 people cast a vote for you.

    And I believe at GLBT Caucus meeting where they revisited the At-Large 1 endorsement more than 30 people stood up in support of Stephen Costello and Derr was lucky to leave that night with the endorsement. There are a lot of GLBT people proudly supporting Costello over Derr.

    Just out of curiosity, where did Karen Derr get her college degree from? Oh that’s right, she doesn’t have one.

    And what about Derr’s spotty voting record? I think if someone wants to get a vote, they should be more willing to show up to cast their own vote. Voting in 1 Democratic Primary doesn’t make Karen Derr a perfect Democrat, far from it.

    And lest we forget the ONLY reason Derr is running for At-Large 1 is because she was too dense to file her paperwork for the race she REALLY wanted to run in District H. Competence much?

    Costello has proven that he has the knowledge to actually get stuff done on one of Houston’s most important issues – flooding.

    Karen Derr…well, people love porches don’t they?

  6. Lonnie Allsbrooks says:

    If you are taking the time in reading my comments, than I want to make sure you understand everything you are reading and that you have all the correct information. I did not receive a college degree, I have worked hard for all my accomplishments, I will always voice my thoughts and opinions, I have made many mistakes, I am not perfect and I am man enough to say “I was wrong and I am sorry”, when necessary. As one of the many candidates who ran for the At Large Position 1 seat on Nov. 3, I could not believe what I experienced in the six months I campaigned and all because of Karen Derr, her husband, her supporters and those that were paid to do their personal attacks against my business, my campaign and my name. In the 5 years I have been in the Heights as a small business owner, I do not recall ever meeting Mrs. Derr or had I ever knew of a time she supported my business. The first time I met Mrs. Derr was at the Houston Stonewall Democrat members endorsement meeting in the beginning of June. A few days prior to this meeting, three members of the screening committee had to step aside because of conflict of interest between Derr and myself. No candidate was endorsed in the At Large Position 1 category and apparently she thought she would be receiving this endorsement. At that moment I used a famous line from an old Betty Davis movie, “Fasten your seatbelt boys, it’s going to be a bumpy ride”, both my Campaign manager and assistant looked at me and knew exactly what I meant, even though that was the first time either had heard that quote. I do not understand why the G.L.B.T. endorses any candidate who allows negative actions to be taken towards other candidates, when the organization is built on supporting equal rights for all and stopping all hate acts and crimes. I speak for several individuals in the gay community, we support the candidates and leaders who will serve and work for all of the public and not for their own agendas/careers!! I will continue to inform those who have never heard of any of the candidate’s names or know what they represent, to vote for the individuals I believe will listen to my concerns on necessary improvements at our Planning and Development Code of Enforcement offices and support all small business owners!!! I did not have a grammar teacher proof read, so my apologies to my critics. Stephen Costello is the candidate who will embrace all of Houston and will bring back the True meaning of “Public Servant”. He can be a Republican one day and a Democrat the next day, as long as he has the Best interest for the future of our great City, Houston!!! Chill out at “Beer Island”, in the Heights and have a cold beer or a glass of wine, RELAX!!!

  7. Bill Eton says:

    I find it hard to believe Mrs. Derr even gave Lonnie Allsbrooks a second thought. Allsbrooks got 2.4% of the vote. Isn’t he the one that claimed “bad dudes” were chasing him around the Heights? PALEAZZZZZE!

  8. Lonnie Allsbrooks says:

    Memo to Bill Eton(whoever you are?), if Mrs. Derr was not worried about me, than why all the sudden after I announced that I was joining the names for the At Large Pos. 1 seat and after the first screening from an important gay political org., my campaign signs were stolen off my property, my supporter’s properties, vehicles following me around the inner loop, scoping out my business and many other negative actions, only occurring in the Heights. One known Derr supporter had staked out across from my bar, 1:45 til 3:00am, and with the H.P.D. support we learned the owner of the vehicle happen to be the owner of a very well known real estate company and friends with the Derrs. The vehicles following me on Labor Day weekend were also supporters of Mrs. Derr, I have pics and license plate numbers that were given to H.P.D. H.P.D. assigned an officer on all these matters and I can give you his name if you would like to follow up on his investigation, which might just make a sudden appearance a few days before Dec. 12, 2009. The file is still pending and I will decide on what action/actions are necessary for these issues. I also do not believe a huge Karen Derr political sign walked down from her house and tied itself in front of the space I lease off white oak dr. I know her husband placed the signs, but if she was a caring small business owner or public servant candidate, she would have had it taken down immediately and not replaced each time I discarded the signs. I would also like to thank each of the Houston voters who allowed me to recieve 2.4% of the vote in a category with many well known candidates. F.Y.I.- My goal for the next two years is to reach out to the estimate one million Houston voters who did not vote in this election and let them decide who will be elected for council seat I decide to campaign for in 2011 for 2012-2014. Thank you again for your kind Texas spirit!!!

  9. Go Coogs says:

    “Bill Eton” is Bob Derr.

    Big shocker.

  10. Lonnie Allsbrooks says:

    “The End”