Houston mayoral candidates face off in debate

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The people who want to be the next mayor of Houston weighed in on traffic and other topics at a mayoral forum Thursday (KTRK)

It was a packed house at the River Oaks Country Club Thursday, as the Houston Association of Realtors held the latest mayoral forum.

The city's seven declared candidates got together to try and convince voters why they should be Houston's next mayor.

For now, the candidates remain cordial to each other, saving their criticism for issues.

During the fast-paced forum, former Congressman Chris Bell and businessman Bill King both pounced on Rebuild Houston, the pay-as-you-go drainage plan.

"As far as Rebuild Houston, obviously it's time to take a fresh look at it. I would really like to audit the Rebuild program," said Bell.

"We're going to have another vote on this or we're going to scrap it, one way or another," said King.

In a room filled with real estate agents, the question of historic preservation versus property rights caused attorney Ben Hall and former Sheriff Adrian Garcia to try and strike a middle ground.

"I'm an advocate of historic preservation, but I'm also a protector of individual rights to people's property," said Hall.

"I think it's a good thing, but we also have to make sure it's not far reaching and cumbersome," Garcia said.

State Rep. Sylvester Turner and Council Member Stephen Costello spoke about various ways to increase home-ownership.

"I think the (proposed state increase) in homestead exemption is the right thing," said Turner. "I also support what the City of Houston just did, in increasing homestead exemptions for seniors."

"What the City of Houston needs to do is take a proactive approach rather than reactive, and put together a series of lots," Costello said in response to a question about more affordable housing in the city.

Several candidates also voiced their support for a City of Houston General Plan, which is in progress.

"How about giving people something to vote for?" said businessman Marty McVey, "and a plan?"

The plan for these candidates will be a summer's worth of campaigning before the contest intensifies in the fall. There will be at least a dozen more forums before Election Day in November.

It's most likely the election for mayor will head toward a runoff.

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politicselectionharris county sheriffs officehouston politicsHouston
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