If she were given the choice, Sue Lovell might never have left the Houston City Council. She enjoyed solving problems and turning ideas into action, and she liked serving her adopted hometown.
Lovell had to step down in 2012, having reached her limit of three two-year terms as an at-large member.
Now, though, she has a chance to preside over the city council instead of just being part of it.
Lovell, who has ties to Montrose and Timbergrove, announced Monday that she is running for mayor. The 68-year-old native of Fresno, California, moved to Houston as a teenager in 1970 and has lived and worked in the city ever since.
“I love public service,” she said, “and I didn’t realize how much I was going to miss it.”
Lovell joins a group of candidates looking to unseat Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is seeking a second term in November’s election. Among the other challengers are council member Dwight Boykins, attorney Tony Buzbee and businessman Bill King, who lost to Turner in a runoff four years ago.
During her tenure on the city council, Lovell served a stint as vice mayor pro-tem and chaired the committees for quality of life as well as transportation, infrastructure and aviation. She is an advocate for public safety, historic preservation, LGBTQ rights and utilizing technology to make Houston and its public services more efficient and effective.
“I think the city needs new leadership and what the public trusts us to do, which is to make public safety a priority and make sure the services they pay for get delivered efficiently and on time and we continue to invest in infrastructure and quality of life,” Lovell said. “I do not believe that’s been the focus of (Turner’s) administration, but I believe that’s what the citizens expect.”
Lovell is especially critical of Turner’s handling of pension and pay-raise negotiations with Houston firefighters, who endorsed Turner during the last mayoral race and then helped push for the passage of Proposition B during last November’s election. While attempting to implement the referendum that granted equal pay to firefighters and police officers of similar rank and experience – its legality is in the process of being determined in a state appellate court – the city council authorized the layoffs of 400 firefighters.
Those layoffs were rescinded after a state district court judge ruled Prop B unconstitutional in May. Still, Lovell said she would never bring a measure before the council that proposed eliminating city firefighters or police officers.
In light of recent KHOU reports that city employees have dumped recyclable materials in landfills on multiple occasions, Lovell said she would be forthcoming about the issue and work to find solutions so Houston citizens who are concerned about the environment can be assured their efforts to recycle are not going to waste.
Along those lines, Lovell said it’s important for Houston and its elected officials to take full advantage of technology to improve and streamline its services to citizens.
“There’s a spirit in Houston that we’re kind of branded with: If there’s a problem, we can come up with a solution,” Lovell said. “We built a domed stadium. We helped put a man on the moon.”
Lovell, a mother and grandmother, was a small business owner and worked in a variety of other professional capacities prior to serving on the city council. Among her jobs was to coordinate a program for the company that built the Katy Mills Mall, with that program subsequently earning the Houston Metropolitan Award.
During the time of national welfare reform in the 1990s, Lovell helped provide employees for the mall’s retailers by taking Houston-area citizens on welfare and providing them workforce training in a partnership with Houston Community College. The program also provided those citizens with transportation and childcare.
During her time on the city council, Lovell said she earned a reputation for being a straight shooter and being able to tackle the most difficult problems.
“I don’t mind them. I enjoy them,” she said. “I was known for being able to reach across the aisle and work with everybody.”
Lovell said everybody in Houston deserves the chance to make themselves a success story, much like she has done. She said she came to Houston because it provided more opportunities than her hometown.
She said she arrived with only “three suitcases and $35.” Now Lovell is a former city council member who has a chance to be mayor.
“If you want to come here and work hard, you can succeed,” Lovell said. “We are that kind of city of opportunity for businesses that come here or for people that want to come here. I want to ensure that’s the kind of city that we remain.”
In the running
Each of the following has filed a campaign treasurer designation form with the City of Houston Secretary, signaling an intention to run for the office indicated below:
Mayor: Kendall Baker, Dwight Boykins, Derek Broze, Tony Buzbee, Anton Dowls, Bill King, Sue Lovell, Demetria Smith, Sylvester Turner (incumbent)
City Council A: Iesheia Ayers-Wilson, Mehdi Cherkaoui, Amy Peck
City Council C: Candelario Cervantez, Anthony Dolcefino, Nick Hellyar, Rooney Hill, Abbie Kamin, Shelley Kennedy, Dontrell Montgomery, Gregory Meyers, Bob Nowak Jr., Daphne Scarbrough, Mary Jane Smith, Kevin Walker, Kendra Yarbrough Camarena
City Council H: Karla Cisneros (incumbent), Isabel Longoria, Cynthia Reyes-Revilla