American Turkic Business Council DBA Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Fox26, hosted the Houston Mayoral Debate on October 26th, 2015 at the Istanbul Conference Center. The event was geared towards informing Houstonians before they go to the polls. Among many distinguished guests, mayoral candidates Adrian Garcia, Chris Bell, Ben Hall, Sylvester Turner, Marty McVey, and Steve Costello attended the event that was moderated by Emmy Award Winner Isiah Carey.
The event began with reception that served light dinner along with Turkish Deserts. During this time, attendees were given a chance to mingle with the candidates to get to know them better.
Mr. Orhan Osman, President of ATBC & TTACC, began the welcoming speech that highlighted the mission and role of ATBC & TTACC and emphasized the importance of hosting such an event along with the critical role that being mayor of Houston plays.
Following the welcome speech, the moderator, Mr. Carey, welcomed the candidates and began the debate. The debate commenced with short introductions from the candidates regarding their previous roles and what they hope to achieve as mayor. Attendees had the chance to hear about why they should vote for each candidate as well as their stance towards the questions directed by the moderator.
Among others some of the most important topics of discussion were economic growth, community safety, equal rights ordinance, city finances, term limits, and qualifications to be mayor.
The debate addressed one of the most talked about issues, the equal rights ordinance. Candidate Ben Hall addressed why he is not in support of the ordinance and explained why the way this particular ordinance was written makes it a danger for the people. In response, other candidates explained why they support the ordinance. Many addressed the fact that as one of the most diverse cities in the country, Houston never had a closed-door policy and has been welcoming towards everyone without discrimination so even discussing the ordinance as if there is an issue seems to lack solid ground.
Another issue that received a lot of attention was community safety and what can be done to ensure the success of Houston police officers. Candidates Marty McVey and Chris Bell touched upon the need for body cameras on police officers to rebuild and achieve trust between law enforcement and citizens that has been lost in Houston and many other cities in our country. Other candidates highlighted the need for more transparency and funding for staffing that will expedite the services offered and cases solved by our law enforcement.
Regarding city finances, Candidate Steve Costello addressed the need for local control on city finances so the budget of the city can be used where there is a need like enhancing roads and adding additional police officers among other things. Candidate Bill King addressed the city’s spending problem and the lack of a balanced budget, while Candidate Sylvester Turner highlighted the need to implement a zero-based budget and to justify everything that goes on it from that point.
The debate served to be a successful and informative event for all Houstonians who attended or watched online.