In the race to be Houston’s next mayor Bill King’s persistent focus on the city’s troubled finances appears to be paying dividends that could prove pivotal.
“We do not have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem,” said King.
The columnist and former Kemah Mayor has drawn the whole hearted support of State Senator Paul Bettencourt and Council Member Oliver Pennington – conservatives so influential their backing could have the much the same impact as an endorsement from the Republican party, representing by one analyst’s estimate a third of Houston’s voters.
Both Senator and Councilman believe King is the only candidate capable of attacking the city’s massive $5 billion pension hole and blossoming budget deficit.
“What you are seeing at the City of Houston is a slow motion train wreck,” said Bettencourt.
“What happens is the services gradually ebb away. A fireman has to retire and you don’t have money to replace him and a street light goes out and you don’t have money to replace that,” said Pennington, considered the most conservative candidate in the race until dropping out to care for his ill wife.
Bettencourt says bankruptcy is on Houston’s horizon without change.
“We cannot wait another six years to address these financial problems at the City. The City will be beyond help at that point that’s why we have to get Bill King elected,” said Bettencourt.
King further bolstered his broadening appeal to conservatives by repeating his opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance as currently proposed.
“We either need to repeal it or we need to substantially amend it,” said King.
Rice Political analyst Mark Jones says the endorsements hurt candidates Steven Costello and Ben Hall in particular, both of whom were hoping to attract a substantial number of conservative leaning votes.