ROY VASQUEZ for
ROY JACOB VASQUEZ?
I'm a regular guy from Houston. I was born at St. Joseph's and lived around the Houston area all my life. I earned my undergrad and grad degrees at the University of Houston (go coogs) and have worked in the realm of education for all of my adult working career.
I love this city and would love to represent all of you. A lot of people ask me what my platform is, honestly, I just want to serve the people and help elevate our city. It can be better. What's important to the people of Houston is what is important to me - what meets the health, safety, and growth needs of our city is important to me.
"Real leadership is when everyone else feels in charge." - Bono
So why am I running? Former President Obama once said, "If you are disappointed with your elected officials, pick up a clipboard and run for office yourself." I think it's almost an obligation if you love your city. You can't hope that a future candidate is going to be better or be the savior of the city; you have to take action yourself.
Being able to serve the city in this capacity is a privilege. I want you to get out there and make your voice heard!
Homelessness numbers are actually on the decline, but it still remains an issue. There are so many factors that contribute to this: mental health awareness, the educational system, the criminal justice system, and others. The bottom line is we cannot have our fellow humans living/sleeping on the streets in their own filth or in campsite communities on public property. We need to enforce our no camping laws and get them off the streets, for their own good. Some of our homeless may be people getting out of jail but can’t afford to get back home. We need to help them get back to where they came from. We are behind other cities when it comes to how we tackle the homeless problem. Oklahoma City, for example, has a city newspaper that’s basically run by homeless and low-income citizens; it provides them with meaningful income that can sustain them living independently. In Little Rock, they give them jobs picking up litter. Nashville has a shower truck that travels through the city that homeless people can use to get clean. California has developed affordable and free housing programs. It's a myth to think that someone who is homeless or in poverty can change that on their own. And because we believe in this myth, we are far less likely to raise taxes or fund social programs to help combat it. They need our help. It’s so easy to say “oh they should just get a job.” But really who would hire someone who doesn’t have a mailing address or hasn’t showered or changed their clothes in who knows how long? The city should provide hourly wage opportunities/jobs for the homeless. We have a responsibility to humanity to try to help all of these people. It’s definitely a bigger issue than just getting them jobs. Obviously, some want to be homeless or don’t want help, but most are victims of our city’s lack of mental health awareness, the educational system, or the criminal justice system.
STRAY AND SHELTERED ANIMALS
There are an estimated 300,000 stray dogs in Houston and countless more in shelters. The animal welfare and cat/dog overpopulation issues in Houston are huge and we need to be talking about it. How can we reduce the number of strays in Houston? Most critically, we need animal control to do their job and pick up stray animals. Because our current administration is concerned with statistics, they don't pick up all the stray animals they see; this is mostly in underserved neighborhoods. The city does not want the counted number of stray dogs, dogs placed in a shelter, nor the amount of shelter kills to rise, so they just ignore the stray problem. Some of these strays are sick or hurt (they can't fix themselves, they need us) and the city is doing little. It's pitiful.
What can we do to help reduce the number of strays in Houston? 1. Spay or neuter your pet. This is the best thing you can do to help prevent pet overpopulation. We have great organizations in Houston (ex: Houston Humane Society) that provide low-cost or even free spaying and neutering. 2. ADOPT! Instead of purchasing an animal from a breeder or pet store, adopt one from your local animal shelter. Typically an adoption fee includes all necessary shots and spaying/neutering. 3. Keep your pet for life. Understand the commitment you're making when you adopt or buy a pet. Dogs and cats can live upwards of 15 years; they are your responsibility for your lifetime. Puppies and kittens are cute, but how will you feel when they've grown (or lost whatever made you think they're cute)? Will you still love them the same? Or surrender them to a shelter? 4. One overlooked factor contributing to stray animals are lost pets. If you microchip your pet, there's a huge chance that you will be reunited if he/she is lost. Again we have great resources in the city that provide this service at an affordable cost. 5. Fight puppy mills. Some of the dogs in shelters around our city were seized from puppy mills; where they aren't treating the breeding dogs as more than anything but a machine. It's sickening. They disregard the animals' health and are only in business for profit. Again, the best thing you can do is adopt. If no one is buying their puppies, they cannot afford to stay in business. 6. Donate to your local shelters. By donating, you are helping save animal lives and reduce animal homelessness. Shelters such as the Houston Humane Society provide many low-cost clinic services for the public and have the goal to provide education and outreach in the community.
And that's just what we need, just more of it, more awareness and support. The city needs to provide additional funding to shelters and education needs to be a huge, city-sponsored media push.
1. Our air pollution is also one of the 10 worst in the country, per a recent study by the American Lung Association, "The air you breathe may put your health at risk." We are going out in that air every day, our children, our animals, we're all breathing substandard air – we have to look at stricter regulations on our refineries and expanding/promoting public transportation. I support the METRONext bond issue on the November ballot. This should help with improving the city's air quality by increasing the number of people using public transportation, rather than their personal vehicle. This not only improves our current infrastructure but expands upon it with an expanding LightRail and new RapidBus services.
2. I don’t understand why Houston is so far behind other cities when it comes to protecting the environment. We should be leading! But until we can get to that point, we need to follow the examples other cities have set-out (banning plastic straws, banning or charging for plastic grocery bags, etc). There was also the recent recycling controversy in the city - long story short, items that the public set out to be recycled, were being dumped like normal trash. Not only is this hurting the environment, but creates a huge amount of distrust from the public to the city (which could discourage them from recycling in the future). In that situation, we need to hold the higher-ups accountable with fines and possibly even suspensions – the lower-level employees who did the dumping were terminated, but I think we have reason to believe they were told what to do and the public needs to know what action was taken. I know in some areas the trash isn’t being picked up routinely at all, either. I’m sure you’ve seen people riding in their car, just tossing their Styrofoam cup out the window. We have to try to create a culture of caring about the environment. I think that boils down to education, understanding, and compassion. It has to be a huge push.
The issue is when the water wants to leave, it doesn’t have anywhere to go. One thing that can be implemented immediately is educating the public on flood preparedness regularly, not just when the next storm is looming. Focusing on keeping our public prepared for flooding. We are one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, so a lot of the people who move here have never dealt with flooding; they’re brand new to the situation! They may even be moving into a flood-prone area without knowing it. That’s why it’s so important to keep the public educated and fresh on storm safety, evacuation routes, and to bring back high water gauges. The city also needs to anticipate and plan that storms, floods, and disasters will happen more frequently. Other cities plan for more storms than they actually experience, yet we plan for less. We also need to partner with nature to preserve our green spaces, creeks, and bayous. New construction that takes away our nature and green spaces definitely contributes to our flooding situation in the city. We are on the right path by creating regulations on building/developing. I don’t know how much demolishing an old building to build a new one on top of it affects things, but I support rehabbing and renovating buildings as an alternative from building on nature, if possible. Depending on the area, this could also help us preserve history and architecture. The ultimate solution for the "next big flood" is to preserve our green spaces, create additional reservoirs and retention areas, and, most ambitiously, create a tunneling system underneath the city. Because of our soil, tunneling is something that may not have been possible 10 years ago, but we have the tools and technology now to build tunneling drainage systems. Chicago just completed this exact project this year.
There is corruption in our government and police force. It undermines the integrity of our city's government and kills our trust in our public servants. We can look to a few high profile cases just this year, on the police side, officers Goines and Bryant. I’m supportive of their sentences, if convicted. I want to see justice served and everyone involved prosecuted. I think the bigger issue this raises is a public question of how much this really goes on without being discovered. It’s time for a deeper investigation of our police force - auditing all body cams, outside investigation assistance, etc. I’ve met former police officers who’ve told me stories about planting evidence on suspects, stealing their drugs, etc. These are the people that have the duty to serve and protect. Any little corruption can create a huge amount of public distrust, and rightfully so! It creates a divide between us and our officers. And more recently on the city hall side, a story came out about Mayor Turner paying $95,000/year to an intern, in the midst of the city's hiring freeze! This is just another in a long line of accusations of the current adminstration doing favors for their buddies.