Experience is valuable on Houston City Council. Council members often spend their first two-year term learning the basics of job: Figuring out who the players are, learning how various departments and budgets work and getting a handle on knotty problems such as the pension mess. By the time that council members really understand how things work, they’ve served six years and are term-limited out of office.
Rogene Gee Calvert, running for At-Large Position 3, wouldn’t face that learning curve. She already knows her way around City Hall. She served as a director of volunteers under Mayor Bill White, steering the massive volunteer efforts that surrounded Katrina, and was chief of staff for former council member Gordon Quan.
Right off the bat, she’d be ready to get more bang for taxpayer bucks. Houston, she says, should eliminate redundancy by combining services and sharing buildings with entities such as Harris County, Houston Independent School District and METRO. And the city needs to do a better job of getting state and federal grants.
A partner in a communications firm, she understands the importance of communicating with the public. For instance, she says that voters are frustrated with Rebuild Houston because they didn’t understand its pay-as-you-go model, and no one made sure that citizens knew it would be seven years before they saw the street and drainage repairs that our city so sorely needs. She suggests putting regular citizens on the Rebuild Houston team and making sure that normal human beings can understand the criteria that determine projects’ priority. “Worst first” sounds great, but in reality, it’s impossible for a regular person to figure out just what would put a project at the front of the line. We think she’d change that.
We also find her quiet persuasiveness refreshing in politics. “A city council member shouldn’t be showboating,” she says. “It takes nine votes to pass legislation. I know how to build consensus and get things done.”
In a strong field of competitors, Roland Chavez, a retired City of Houston firefighter, also stands out. Our city desperately needs to renegotiate its unsustainable pension deal with firefighters, and Chavez, who used to represent the firefighters’ union in those negotiations, could bring useful insights.
But Calvert is uniquely ready to get to work, and to tackle a broad range of issues. She’d make a great city council member. Vote for Calvert.