'We need big thinkers': Former city council member Amanda Edwards joins 2023 race for Houston mayor

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Former Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards is joining the race to succeed Sylvester Turner as mayor.

The former at-large district four council member, who served from 2016 to 2020, says she's an original millennial who can be a bridge between our past and future.

"We need big thinkers. We need big dreamers, but people who can execute on those visions," Edwards said in an interview with ABC13's Gina Gaston. "I've had an extensive amount of experience as a municipal finance lawyer and as a public service and a servant in elected office. And then, of course, with non-profits across the city, working alongside them or leading in those areas, and I bring a lot of those experiences with me to the table, which I think are assets."

"But at the same time, I can understand the impulse of wanting to work from home or using the computer and technology to be more efficient in some of the things," she said. "And so, what I seek to bring to this, to the mayor's office, is that bridge, is to make sure that we are making sure that we're modernizing our services."

Edwards grew up in Houston, attending Eisenhower High.

Both of her parents worked in the health care field.

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Her dad was diagnosed with cancer when she was 10 and died when she was 17. That experience helped shape her ideas of how government should work.

"These are matters of life and death. And so, in my dad's case, I'd ask him, 'Who's paying for this? What happens if this procedure is denied?' All of that is a matter of public policy, or the lack thereof," Edwards said. "And so, that really gave me purpose behind my motivation as a leader. It gives me a sense of urgency. Through that journey, I learned about what our health care system was or wasn't, and how disjointed it really is for people."

The city's rising crime problems concern Edwards. She supports bond reform, wants to see higher pay for police officers, and thinks the mayor's anti-crime initiative is a good starting point.

"I think his plan is important, and we definitely need to look at his plan as a starting point. We can modify and adjust and add to that," she said. "I think right now, everybody's experiencing the same pull from the pandemic. But I would like for Houston to break out as the city that's pulling away from that."

Edwards is also passionate about expanding public transportation, though she knows everyone isn't supportive of the financial investment she thinks is necessary.

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"Well, I'm going to say something controversial. I think we need to go bold on this. I served on the Transportation Policy Council for our eight-county region. And in that service, what I learned is that we're anticipating about 4 million people coming into our region within the next 20 years," Edwards said. "So what does that mean for our region? We've got to be making large investments today in order to manage what is to come tomorrow."

In 2020, Edwards made the bold decision to forego running for reelection to city council and instead run for the U.S. Senate seat held by John Cornyn.

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Now, she enters what is expected to be a crowded mayoral race. Two candidates, who share many of her positions, have already announced their candidacy.

"I'm the only candidate running so far who has actually run and won a citywide election and serve citywide on a local level," Edwards said. "You've got to know how to navigate city hall. It's a very big, complicated place, with some very, very complicated challenges."

There will be a lot of time for voters to evaluate their choices. The election isn't until November 2023.

For more on this story, follow Gina Gaston on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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