Bill King believes change is needed at city hall. All that’s left is to convince constituents he’s capable of being Houston’s mayor, and he continued that effort with a stop Friday night at a local watering hole.
King and his campaign held a supporters’ rally at Wakefield Crowbar, 954 Wakefield Dr., as he finished up a nine-rally tour that began Feb. 9 in efforts to give residents a voice about their concerns. About 30 people showed up Friday to support King, a Houston businessman who is among a handful of mayoral candidates running against incumbent Sylvester Turner in the citywide election in November.
In the last mayoral election, in 2015, Turner beat King in a runoff.
“This gives people the opportunity to get to really know me, hear what I’m really about and judge my competency and ability to do the job,” King said. “Every neighborhood has its own set of issues they’re concerned about and want addressed by the city – and they’re absolutely entitled to that. It’s not just about persuading people I’m right for the job, but for me to be better prepared to take office.”
During his tour, King said spending responsibly on drainage and development have been prominent among resident concerns in their neighborhoods.
“This whole area – Oak Forest/Garden Oaks, Timbergove, Lazybrook – is one that’s in a great period of revival, so I think quality of life issues and making sure they’re protected from flooding is the greatest concern I’ve heard,” he said.
That sentiment rang true when speaking with some of King’s supporters at the rally, such as Oak Forest resident Charles Carter.
“He’s used facts and numbers to highlight the city’s shortcomings and financial troubles. I’m fiscally conservative and think government should be there to do things that benefit the basics – roads, drainage,” Carter said. “That has to come first. Everything else is nice to have, but if you can’t execute on the basics, there’s no need to go any further.”
King referenced the city’s annual drainage fee as one example of what he called irresponsible money management and usage, saying only about half of what’s been collected has actually been spent on drainage.
“Fundamentally, this job is about being a manager as opposed to a career politician. A business manager gets up every day and looks at how they can make things better by making sure they have money to spend,” he said, noting the $300 million operating deficit the city faced last year. “At the end of the day, the finances have got to be fixed before doing anything. I would want somebody who can demonstrate that they’ll run the city efficiently, and that’s what I propose to go do.”
That mentality is why those such as Garden Oaks resident and retired firefighter Manuel Chavez are supporting King in his bid this year.
“We need a mayor who is concerned about the citizens and the communities,” said Chavez, who served at HFD’s Fire Station 13 in Oak Forest for more than three decades. “Mr. King’s plans are right down my perspective of what Houston should be – a great family-oriented community. I love this city, I raised my children here, and I want it to be a great place for them to raise their kids.”