Bill Baldwin has been dubbed the “King of the Heights.”
Now he wants to broaden his circle of influence to include all of Houston.
The successful Heights Realtor and civic activist, who spent the last three years on the Houston Planning Commission, is making a bid for City Hall. Baldwin is running for the at-large 4 position on the Houston City Council, where he envisions representing a diverse mix of citizens with a forward-thinking, common-sense approach.
“I want to take my level of activism and community service and spread it across the entire city,” he said.
Baldwin, 54, is one of 11 candidates bidding for the at-large position that became open when Amanda Edwards announced last month she is running for one of Texas’ U.S. Senate seats. Others have since jumped into that council race as well, including former District C candidates Anthony Dolcefino and Nick Hellyar.
Although he’s relatively late to the council race – Baldwin beat the Aug. 19 filing deadline by less than two weeks – he is confident he can win. Along with the prominence of his Boulevard Realty firm and his role on the planning commission, to which he was appointed by Mayor Sylvester Turner in January 2016, Baldwin also spent three years as president of the Houston Heights Association.
He said his chief challenge between now and the Nov. 5 election is connecting with voters across the city and building name recognition beyond the Heights.
“I have more experience than that average person that’s running,” Baldwin said. “I have more experience with how City Hall works, how local government works, how the nonprofit sector works, how businesses work. And my work in the community is really what I’m going to be able to focus on.”
Among the priorities for Baldwin are ensuring accountability and accessibility within city government, meeting Houston’s drainage and infrastructure needs and fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors. He also wants to expand greenspace and walkability while decreasing homelessness.
Those might sound like typical talking points for a politician, but Baldwin would rather speak his mind than pander to voters’ perceptions. He said Houston drivers “need to slow down” for the safety of themselves and other drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists.
He also said homeowners in places such as the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest need to accept that affordable housing is essential to developing diverse communities and enhances them instead of diminishing them.
“I don’t pussyfoot around,” Baldwin said. “I go over there and tell people like it is, some of which they want to hear and some of which they don’t want to hear.”
Baldwin also wants the city to be bold and progressive in its planning, especially in the midst of climate change. He said Houston should scrap the practice of considering Capital Improvement Projects in five-year increments and think 30 or 50 years ahead.
“A five-year snapshot of where we’re going to go is a ludicrous way to perform a $5 billion industry known as the City of Houston,” Baldwin said. “We need better planning. We need better implementation. We need to rely on the private sector where they’re better at it than the public sector.
“There are really smart people in Houston, Texas. Let’s utilize some of them to help us with some of these issues.”