Houston Chronicle Endorsement

Pat Van Houte For Mayor

Pat Van Houte - Working For You
Pat Van Houte - Working For You

For Pasadena Mayor

 

Councilmember Pat Van Houte confronts challenges that others ignore.

Pasadena Mayor Johnny Isbell, about three years ago, had police officers boot from chambers a councilmember in the middle of her speech excoriating an unconstitutional redistricting scheme.

Voters can serve up a healthy dose of poetic justice by replacing Isbell with that councilmember - Pat Van Houte.

Early voting begins Monday and ends Tuesday, May 2. Election Day is Saturday, May 6.

Of the five candidates who met with the Chronicle editorial board - two declined - only Van Houte was willing to bluntly and accurately diagnose the challenges facing Harris County's second-largest city. Legacies of favoritism, opacity and, yes, discrimination continue to hamper progress at Pasadena's City Hall. A petrochemical boom is driving growth all across east Harris County, yet Pasadena remains constrained by a political leadership that, as Judge Lee H. Rosenthal wrote in her recent opinion, has denied equal opportunity to all of its citizens.

Plenty of Pasadena residents certainly won't enjoy reading Rosenthal's words. Every other mayoral candidate preferred to pick up the pom-poms and cheer on the city's blue-skies future. But discrimination is like a cancer that can fester beneath the friendly surface of civil society, from a road plan that ignores Hispanic neighborhoods to a redistricting scheme intentionally designed to disenfranchise Hispanic voters. Structural discrimination won't go away by ignoring it. Pasadena needs a mayor who is willing to confront these challenges. Chemotherapy is never pleasant.

Van Houte has a record of standing up for the hard fight during her eight years on City Council - and like so much of Pasadena politics, it all began with street construction.

Back in 2006, Van Houte was part of a successful campaign opposing a road expansion project through her neighborhood. That activism led her to represent the northeast District D at Pasadena City Hall. Van Houte, 60, eventually worked with other representatives to block an infrastructure bond that failed to properly address dilapidated northside neighborhoods. Mayor Isbell responded by shoving an unconstitutional redistricting scheme down Council's throat and trying to silence his opponents. Nevertheless, Van Houte persisted. She was forced out of a City Council meeting and saw her seat redistricted away, but that didn't stop Van Houte from winning her current at-large position.

Now she wants to replace the term-limited Isbell and run a city government that's open to all of Pasadena instead of merely the well-connected. This means fairness in contracting, competitive bidding, soliciting community input and promoting transparency. Van Houte also said that she wants to reinstate a public transit circulator for senior citizens that the city had stopped funding.

She hasn't raised a lot of money - Van Houte declines donations from city contractors - and her personality is more cautious librarian than charismatic populist. But there's no doubt that Van Houte as mayor would be a fresh start for a city that deserves better than its current bad press.

Voters should also take a good look at John "J.R." Moon, who has served for 10 years as a trustee for San Jacinto College. Moon, 58 is a certified public accountant and former chief financial officer at Moody Bank, and currently works as a commercial real estate agent. He's an all-smiles chamber of commerce type who has a firm grasp on the meat-and-potatoes issues of education and economic growth. Moon provides an outsider perspective that Pasadena needs and the resume to get the job done.

Johnny Isbell has been a part of Pasadena politics for 40 years. Voters should go with a candidate who isn't afraid to break with the past and focus on the qualities that make Pasadena a great place to live.

Copyright 2017: Houston Chronicle  - April 21, 201

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Janette Sexton (Sunday, 23 April 2017 17:19)

    This endorsement was the best news I received today. I strongly support Pat Van Houte's candidacy!

    I have been acquainted with Pat for 14 years and know her to be diligent, principled, detail-conscious, and honest. At one point, before Isbell redrew the district boundaries, she was my councilperson.

    Pat takes her duties on Pasadena City Council very seriously and has an extremely strong work ethic. She prides herself in providing excellent customer service to her constituents. I am confident that she will serve the City of Pasadena to the best of her ability.