Note: As we know, the runoff election in At Large #3 is not what many people were expecting. In particular, Democratic voters have been trying to make a choice in that race. While both candidates have been busy reaching out to a broad range of constituencies, I thought it might be a good idea to ask them each a few questions that reflect current issues and concerns. The following are the answers I received from Roy Morales. I sent a substantially similar set of questions to Michael Kubosh, and I will run his answers when I receive them.
1. What distinguishes you from your opponent?
Honesty, Integrity, Education and Transparency. When I give my word, I keep it. My opponent says one thing in one community and says something different in another. He even has different push cards depending on where he is. I have one push card that I have used across the city with the same message. My bottom line is this; we need to keep Houston moving forward. That means everyone needs to work together to make that happen. If elected, my obligation and responsibility is to the citizens and that means all of our citizens. We need to ensure there is opportunity for all of our communities, the creation of more jobs and that everyone’s city services run smoothly and effectively.
2. Mayor Parker recently made an executive order granting health insurance benefits to all spouses of legally married city employees, including same sex spouses, in accordance with the wording of the 2001 charter amendment, the Supreme Court decision on DOMA, and changes in federal policies resulting from that decision. Do you agree with this action?
I’m not a lawyer and this is a legal issue that has yet to be decided. The questions are: Is Texas required to recognize legal same sex marriages from other states under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution? Is Texas’ Defense of Marriage Act superseded by federal actions, including the ruling by the Supreme Court that the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional? How does the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution affect this issue? All of these questions are on the table and should be discussed.
3. The Houston Chronicle and Texas Observer have written several article recently documenting issues with HPD’s disciplinary process and its oversight of the use of force by police officers. What steps would you like to see taken to improve the process?
More openness and transparency in the process.
4. Some people have been calling for a comprehensive review of Houston’s city charter, with the possibility of putting major changes to how city government operates up for a vote. Do you support this idea? What if any changes to how city government operates would you like to see proposed?
We should strive to bring better government and better performing government to our citizens and one way we can accomplish this is by continuing to examine and update our City Charter.
5. You have taken issue with the way the Chronicle characterized you in their endorsement of your opponent in the runoff. Why were they wrong about you?
First, let me say that I was not extended the same invitation as my opponent was with regard to meeting the new editor of the Houston Chronicle at a small gathering of insiders. Second, I am proud of my military career. I enlisted in the Air Force and received an officer’s commission. I was given many great opportunities to work on exciting projects. With that came security clearances and even though I am retired, I honor those requirements. People want to make fun of such things and that was obvious in the Chronicle’s characterization. In fact, Assistant Chief of Police (Ret) Jerry DeFoor has endorsed me and issued a statement why the City of Houston hired me as the Chief Technology Officer for the Houston Emergency Center.
“I am proud to endorse Retired Lt Colonel Roy Morales for Houston City Council At-Large Position 3. As a retired Assistant Chief of Police and former Director of the Houston Emergency Center, I hired Roy to be our Chief Technology Officer. Roy possessed the technology and management skills and military experience we required to activate the new Houston Emergency Center. Most importantly, Roy also had active security clearances that would be of great value in protecting our city and citizens. Only after a short time I awarded Roy the Director’s Commendation for his outstanding work performance. Roy was also assigned as our liaison to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security because of his active top security clearances. Roy’s dedication and exemplary performance reflected great credit upon him, the Houston Emergency Center, and the City of Houston.”
The topic the Editorial Board chose to criticize me with has been written about extensively in their paper and I indicated that to them in my response. I certainly don’t dwell on this, but we would all be foolish to think that our city is somehow immune to the threat of terrorism especially in this post 9-11 country we live in and with the assets our city has. My philosophy is a prepared city is a safe one and I believe those in city government strive towards that goal. What I find most interesting is my opponent’s answer on profiling during that Chronicle interview, something the Chronicle chose to ignore. My opponent believes that police officer when stopping someone for a traffic violation should have the right to ask the driver if they are a U.S. citizen. I am against racial profiling and have always been against racial profiling.
6. Many Democratic voters are wary of their choices for this runoff. Why should a Democrat who voted for one of the other candidates in November support you in this runoff?
As I have already stated in a previous answer, my message is the same across the city. My message does not change depending on what community I am in. If elected I will have an open door policy for all of our citizens…nothing less is acceptable. As an elected official for the Harris County Department of Education, I represented a Democrat district and I worked to keep taxes down, ensure our teachers had fair wages and promoted the Head Start program. I will work with the mayor and all of our council members. We need to keep our great city moving forward and we need to continue to work on quality of life issues with more green space including parks. I will work to ensure city services are delivered effectively to our citizens and the creation of more jobs will continue to define us as a top tier city and why we see so many new people coming to Houston.
UPDATE: Super Neighborhood 22 will host a candidate forum tonight for both At Large runoffs. All four candidates have committed to be there, so you can hear what Morales, Kubosh, CM Andrew Burks, and David Robinson have to say for themselves. The event runs from 6 to 8 PM at the West End Multi-service Center, 170 Heights Blvd. My thanks to Tom Dornbusch for the reminder.