The Mayor is one of the most powerful positions in local government. It is the job of the mayor to oversee various aspects of funding, programs, and initiatives that impact our everyday lives; therefore it is important to be sure that mayoral candidates are poised to address the needs of your community.
This past weekend, Pure Justice members and supporters gathered together to examine the platforms of each Mayoral candidate and identify the issue areas that are important to the communities we work in but were not sufficiently reflected in the platforms of the candidates hoping to become the next Mayor of the City of Houston.
As a social justice organization, it is imperative to our members and supporters that we see social justice and equity as priorities for the next Mayor given that it is injustice and inequity that create barriers to marginalized individuals and communities. After hours of deliberation, we collectively decided that our Mayoral candidate questionnaire will include questions related to the following issue areas:
Affordable Housing for All
There is an affordable housing crisis across the nation, including the city of Houston. It is important that the next Mayor is thoughtful of stagnate wage rates and the inability for many Houstonians to afford both housing and basic necessities.
Housing for Returning Citizens
Many formerly incarcerated individuals face enormous challenges finding housing because it is not currently prohibited to discriminate against those who have criminal records. We promote the productivity and restoration of dignity to those who have served their time. Access to housing should not be a barrier.
Second Chance Jobs and Entrepreneurship Opportunities
Returning citizens also face enormous challenges gaining economic stability because having a criminal record is stigmatized despite the fact that 1 in 4 adults in the country have a criminal record. Economic stability is essential for the health and prosperity of every individual, returning citizens are no exception.
Community Policing and Community Oversight
According to a 2015 Houston Chronicle article, 80% of police officers on the City of police force live outside the city. As levels of distrust between communities and police rise, we believe having officers who live within our communities can help restore trust, create relationships, and build a sense of connection to the communities officers are charged with protecting and serving. Additionally, community oversight committees with access to police officer data have been known to build trust due to transparency.
Mental Health Officers
While police officers can be trained to identify mental health related issues, that is not the primary function of their jobs. As mental health awareness is increasing and data is showing that many individuals suffering from mental health issues go undiagnosed, having a unit of officers whose primary function is to focus on mental health related incidents independent from the traditional police force could be helpful.
ICE Free Work Zones
Immigrant families make up a significant portion of the city of Houston’s population. Additionally, these families positively contribute to the workforce in various industries as well as to our local economy. All workers should be able to go to work and return home to their families without facing the possibility of being arrested. As black and brown communities continue to build solidarity, we are conscious that the criminalization of race or status leads to the destruction of families and communities. We believe all workers have a right to work in peace and safety.
We plan to have questionnaires mailed out and responded to by each candidate before the end of September. We will be sending out each candidates response as well as publishing it on our website.
Be on the lookout for updates regarding candidate responses!