Bipartisan group pushing for changes to Houston charter that would give more power to city council

A group of bipartisan activists have joined labor organizations fighting to give city councilmembers more power to get items on the city of Houston's council agenda.
A group of bipartisan activists have joined labor organizations fighting to give city councilmembers more power to get items on the city of Houston's council agenda. (KPRC 2)

HOUSTON – A group of bipartisan activists has joined labor organizations fighting to give city councilmembers more power to get items on the city of Houston’s council agenda.

The Houston Charter Amendment Petition Coalition held a news conference Monday. Members of the group said they want to “seek voter support of a referendum to build a better Houston through a change of the Houston City Charter.”

In the current structure, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner controls the council agenda. Nothing gets on it without his approval.

However, the coalition’s members said they want to change that by modifying the city’s charter to “create a strong coalition that crosses partisan divides and values citizen governance with a mission to decentralize power from a strong-mayor form of government to a more democratic model.”

The proposed changes would, in part:

  • Allow any three council members to place an item on the city council agenda.
  • Permit a more moderate and sustainable planning cycle for long term city needs rather than four-year political cycles.
  • Emphasize safe streets, safe neighborhoods and safe roads as the core tenants of democracy-driven city governance.

When asked about the movement and whether he believes his position comes with too much power, Turner said he thinks things are fine the way they are.

“I think it works well for the city of Houston,” Turner said. “What is being proposed would create chaos and confusion and we simply don’t want to have a D.C. model … (as in) that style of contentiousness right here in the city of Houston.”

The coalition is hoping to gain voter support, pushing for a referendum on a future ballot.


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