By Boulevard Realty
This week marks one year since Bill Baldwin officially kicked off the Your Houston Political Action Committee (PAC). Many viewed the 2018 launch as Baldwin’s test of the waters for a 2019 run straight for City Hall, which he vehemently denied, claiming that the General Purpose PAC was not a campaign for public office. Instead, he asserted it was a vehicle for political education and advocacy that he could deploy on behalf of Houstonians while remaining focused on the growth of his real estate firm and portfolio of City causes as a full-time volunteer. Time would substantiate his claim, as when the candidacy announcements began to roll in this spring, he remained conspicuously absent, expressing his full-fledged support of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s bid for reelection and continued laser focus on Boulevard Realty, which has experienced record growth so far in 2019.
“I am still asked on a daily basis, ‘When are you running for Mayor?’,” proclaims Baldwin, “The truth is that for right now the PAC has given me an incredible opportunity to make a difference for the widest number of Houstonians, focusing on quality of life, while continuing to make an impact in the private sector. Why would I give that up?”
While it’s with the Turner Administration that he’s reached his highest official City position to date (as the Mayor’s very first appointment to the Planning Commission), Baldwin is no stranger to elected office. He ran for and won a seat on the Huntsville ISD School Board at 19 and remains among the youngest Texans to ever hold any elected office. When he took root in Houston in the 1990s, it wasn’t long before he became known as the unofficial endorsement to seek for both the long influential Heights neighborhoods and a growing progressive segment of the real estate community. TREPAC, the PAC representing that community is among the most influential in the state and the Heights broker makes no secret that they’re often at odds. That, coupled with the fact that there were plenty of nonprofits and academic groups working to improve Houston’s quality of life, but with no political power behind them, is what motivated Baldwin to form Your Houston PAC.
One year in, the PAC functions with a diverse, non-partisan Board of Directors (of which Baldwin is the Chair) consisting of local policy experts for direct advocacy and thought leadership in the areas of the arts, education, elections, health & wellness, housing, mobility & transportation, neighborhoods, parks & greenspace, and resilience, along with experienced Executive Director Mario Castillo. “In all of my time working in politics and government, I have never met someone with such a high command of the issues and perspective as Bill,” explains Castillo. “His ability to balance priorities in what seems like a really no-nonsense way is what I believe has drawn in so many supporters and engaged members so far.”
It has already been a busy year for the PAC. That includes the marathon 11 hours that Baldwin and Castillo spent at the State Capitol in April waiting to testify on a proposed bill to disclose a history of flooding to tenants, which ultimately failed to gain enough traction. “It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a very worthy cause,” expresses Baldwin without defeat. “Which is why I’ll keep working until something like it passes.”
Candidate screenings and education are well underway too, with Baldwin presenting weekly classes to educate Houstonians, candidates, and even current elected officials on flooding and flood resilience and the city’s vast code of ordinances, many of which the PAC Board believes are out of date for a world-class 21st century city. Meanwhile, Castillo tackles other PAC priorities behind the scenes such as affordable housing through the Houston Land Bank. The rest of the Board is organized into work groups focusing on one or a small number of the organization’s key issues and is diligently working on white papers to educate all Houstonians and the current class of political hopefuls either for new office or reelection. The first papers to come out this summer will be on electric vehicle charging stations and other mobility causes like Vision Zero aiming for the elimination of all traffic fatalities and serious injuries.
As with all things in Baldwin’s life, the work of the PAC revolves around his full-time calling as Broker-Owner of Boulevard Realty. In fact, Castillo offices right in Boulevard’s new office at 927 Studewood, where the Board and workgroups also meet. Baldwin relishes the opportunity to be so involved in the day-to-day operations of both Boulevard and the PAC.
“We just moved into a brand new, state-of-the-art building and are on pace for our biggest year of sales ever here at Boulevard. This is something I couldn’t have even imagined when I acquired the firm 11 years ago,” Baldwin muses. “To be able to remain fully invested in Boulevard, all while having the increased impact that we are with the PAC, I’m very grateful. I’m right where I want to be.”