We live in a dynamic, entrepreneurial, diverse, can-do city. I believe Houston has some of the most creative and generous people in the United States. We are all in this together. For several years, I attended the various galas and balls that occur in the city each year. The people who throw these galas are wonderful people who are trying to raise money for many important causes. I applaud them and encourage them to keep up the fight! As mayor, I will encourage a new type of volunteerism. I believe that if you ask, people will help.
Here are a few examples that will foster a renewed sense of volunteerism and bring us together to do something good, as well as help the city save money:
As mayor I will be asking citizens to help with the clean up of the city. We will create and put in place a system to do what I will call “pop-up clean-ups.” Organized by the citizens themselves, when a citizen spots a particular area of the city in need of cleaning, through the city and sanctioned by the city, that citizen can organize a clean-up effort. The city will provide security and water for the effort, as well as receptacles for the trash. Think of how we could clean up this city together!
The city has 370 parks and 200 green spaces. The city employs more than 700 people in the Parks Department, with a budget of more than $70 million yearly. Parks and green space are very important. But, we can do better. I believe that we can maintain our parks better, with fewer people. I believe that we could create a nonprofit for each park, where it makes sense, and have the people who live in the area of the park maintain and improve that park. I know Houstonians. If you ask them, and lead by example, they will help. Think of the improvements we could see in our parks and the money we could save.
Houston is home to many families who have lived here for generations. Many of these families have been very fortunate and control endowments and foundations that, by law, must donate millions yearly to charitable causes. I believe we could and should pool these resources for the great benefit of the city. As mayor, I will go to each of the major foundations across the Houston area (I’ve already started!) with a comprehensive plan. We are calling it “Moonshot.” I believe we can choose an underserved area in our great city and do a complete needs assessment, as well as an assessment on what services are already in place. Imagine if we could put together a comprehensive program where we choose a defined area and, using private funds, ensure that prenatal care, resources for children from age 0-2, Pre-K, and after-school programs focusing on vocational training and tutoring STEM subjects are all in place. On top of that, ensuring that adequate housing is available will drastically reduce truancy, and that the police who work in the community actually live in the community as well. And, we can also make use of our local educational institutions, churches, and civic associations to assist in the project. Is this idea too “pie in the sky?” I don’t think so. We put astronauts on the moon! Surely we can dramatically change for the better areas of our city that need extra help. I think that with private funds pooled in this manner, we could make transformational change in some of the traditionally underserved areas of our great city.
Whether it be holiday lights or blight removal, helping the homeless or cleaning up City Hall, Houstonians will pitch in and help if asked. The answer isn’t always hiring more people and spending more money. Houstonians are yearning to be proud of their city. We must lead the way and bring this city together. The way to do that is to engage all residents in making Houston a better place to live.