METRO Chairman Wolff to step down

HOUSTON David Wolff served for nearly six years under Mayor Bill White and while it's not really a surprise that he won't seek another term on the METRO board, he said he'll step aside about the time a new mayor takes the reins in January and raised a flag about the city's path.

For close to six years, mass transportation in Houston had a leader in David Wolff. He says he's given his best to Houston and will keep doing so just not as METRO's chairman of the board.

"I intend to step down at about the time of the transition to a new administration. If the mayor wants me to stick around for a month of two to help with the transition, I'll be happy to do that," said Wolff.

While he defends the strides METRO has made during his tenure, he says he does have concern about Houston's long term future, especially in light of Wednesday's announcement that Shell is sending Houston jobs overseas.

"I think this Shell move worries me a lot because it is a reminder to us of how we're competing with other cities, not just in Texas, not just in the United States, but around the world," said Wolff. "I don't think we look ahead enough and therefore we get surprised. Then you wake up and you're a Cleveland, or Detroit, or Pittsburgh and you say what happened? And it's too late."

His is a voice that may bear listening to. Here's Mayor White when he was asked about Wolff's resignation after Wednesday's council meeting.

"He's been a visionary leader in this community long before METRO. He conceived of what's now called the Energy Corridor. He's respected," said Mayor White.

Wolff says Houston is in capable hands with Mayor-elect Annise Parker, who herself knows these are challenging times ahead.

"We are ten to twenty years behind other cities in terms of rail transit, but that's not the only issue confronting the City of Houston," said Mayor-elect Parker.

She says she will rely on Wolff and his experience even though she will choose her own path for influencing METRO and the other issues that face Houston.

Mayor-elect Parker says she has no replacement for Wolff in mind yet, but she expects to have a new chair in place within the first few weeks of her administration.

Parker was elected in a run-off vote on December 12. She will take office in early January.

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