The campaigning has been vigorous in the races for Galveston City Council. Amid the usual political rhetoric, some interesting ideas have emerged.
Here are some that ought to be included on the public’s agenda in the next two years:
• Galveston is not spending enough on infrastructure. Galveston is not in a position to offer vast new subdivisions for middle-income housing. It is in a position to fix streets and address drainage problems — steps that would make existing neighborhoods more attractive. How to get that done? One suggestion is to set up a group at City Hall that is dedicated to managing big capital projects.
• Council members are elected for two-year terms in Galveston. Wouldn’t it make more sense to try to come up with a two-year budget? Sure, budgets would still have to be approved every year. But there’s a case for putting the city’s financial planning on a longer track.
• Similarly, the council needs its own calendar. Budgets have to be started at the same time each year. Grants and hurricane recovery projects have deadlines. Perhaps, if the council could clearly see what it must get done in a given quarter or year, it would find less time to get embroiled in the crisis of the day. The added bonus is that the renewed focus on business might be one small step toward civility.
• The city could refocus its economic development plans by revisiting its agreement with the Galveston Economic Development Partnership. Galveston’s public officials tend to consider whatever comes through the door, rather than recruiting types of business that would be a good fit for the community. Maybe the city should have its own economic development arm at City Hall.
• Galveston, even if it is solidly behind the Ike Dike, needs a Plan B. It’s not clear what a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conclude about the feasibility of the ambitious proposal to protect Galveston Bay from hurricanes. If the federal study concludes the concept is too expensive, the city needs to have an alternative. And that Plan B should be far along in development when the Corps finishes its feasibility study.
• Perhaps it’s time for an ordinance review committee, similar to citizens committees that review the charter before referendums. Galveston is an old city, and some wags have questioned whether the council has ever repealed an ordinance in the last 175 years. A review wouldn’t hurt.
We live in an age when all political discourse is ridiculed as empty rhetoric.
There has been plenty of rhetoric during this campaign.
But Galveston voters are fortunate in having been presented with some interesting, thoughtful ideas.
Voters ought to make a point of remembering them — regardless of who wins.