We all know that education is the key to success. That's why we need to invest more in providing the highest quality of education. We need full day Pre-K access that does not discriminate based on financial capabilities. We need to hold school district administrators accountable for their failing schools. We need to create more skilled training programs at the high school level to ensure that each child has a pathway to success after graduation. As Mayor, I will use my voice to influence and push for better programs that stimulate our children's learning abilities and growth. I will not sit by quietly while those responsible for educating our children to continue to provide a lackluster form of guidance.
Houston continues to see a great deal of flooding. Hurricane Harvey showed us just where we are most vulnerable. I still see the images of high water, stalled cars, swollen bayous, people on rooftops, and families struggling to get to higher ground. These visions are haunting as they continue to be a reality for our city. As Mayor, I will work diligently to find solutions to our flooding issues and push for the funding and collaborative assistance from the county, state, and federal government.
Quality housing in the Houston area comes with a hefty price tag. For many Houstonians, the price of quality housing is far outside of their budget. With the cost of quality housing being as high as it is, this forces many to move into communities that may present safety concerns for families. We have to build housing that is affordable and doesn't resemble that of which people are leaving behind. We need to increase the minimum wage, this would make it financially feasible for more to become homeowners. As Mayor, I'd making providing Affordable Housing a top priority and will partner with home buying and down payment assistance program facilitators.
Criminal Justice Reform
Our justice system is in need of a major overhaul. We continue to see the scales of justice lean unfavorably in one direction. Men and women have been incarcerated for crimes they didn't commit, or in some cases sentenced to extreme prison stints for petty and non-violent crimes. In the US over 2.3 million people are confined to some type of correctional institution. One can only wonder, how many of these individuals are innocent of the crime for which they were convicted or charged. We've been groomed to believe that prisons are reformative institutions. The reality is that this is far from the truth. As Mayor, I will work to create policies that do not limit one's ability to be productive citizens after being released from a correctional institution. I will advocate for legislation that creates a pathway to true criminal justice reform. I'll work with organizations in and outside of our city to establish diversion, alternative and re-entry programs. I will work with the chief of police to ensure that integrity and civility are present within every officer's interaction with the public.
Houston is a wealthy city with many revenue streams. For anyone to say that we lack the ability to fund projects that would provide the city with a much-needed facelift would be incorrect. The problem lies in the city's spending and lack thereof. As Mayor, I will maintain a balanced budget, stop wasteful spending, make sound investments for the future, and utilize technologies that will help lower the cost of doing business. I will ensure that transparency is our top priority in the day to day business of the city.
The growing cost of healthcare has placed a substantial burden on our community's finances. Many with illnesses often attempt to self-diagnose and self-medicate in order to avoid paying a $150 fee to see a doctor, only to be sent home with a prescription for antibiotics. These cases are not as extreme as those where people can't even afford over the counter drugs due to their financial situation and sometimes end up progressing into a worse state. The days of the elderly having to choose between groceries and life-saving medications have to end. As Mayor, I will advocate for the financial disadvantaged at the state and federal level. I will pursue partnerships that will help to alleviate the pressures of high healthcare cost.
Houston is poised to rapidly outgrow itself. The level of pollution from cars, oil production plants, and transportation service vehicles are a major contributor to poor air and water quality. It's important that we take the necessary steps to ensure that the protection of our waterways and air are our top priority. As mayor, I will ensure that any individual or company that endangers the residents of our city's health is held accountable. I will work to create policies to prevent such actions from day one.
Houston is a diamond in the rough and if polished just right it would reveal astonishing beauty. Point blank, we need to repair our streets. The potholes and rugged asphalt areas are damaging our resident's most important asset. We must also encourage businesses and homeowners to maintain a high aesthetic standard. We must also work on improving the quality of our city's water. As Mayor, I will ensure that Houston becomes a city of beauty and revere. I will hold city departments accountable to do their part to design a city we've long envisioned. I will work to ensure that the trash & recycle service runs at consistent as possible.
The cost of living in Houston creates a level of difficulty for many to be able to afford quality housing, mechanically sound vehicles, quality child care and in many cases, the bare necessities. We continue to pay into a system that does not offer a solid return on investment. Many of the available jobs in our city have high skill level requirements which automatically disqualify a large percentage of Houstonians. As Mayor, I will work to ensure that companies looking to establish a business presence in Houston create a specified minimum number of entry-level positions. I will work with outside organizations or create opportunities within the city's many departments to provide apprenticeship offerings. Also, I will work closely with our community's small business owners and entrepreneurs to understand their needs and marketplace. I will work to increase our trade footprint, along with working on ways to increase our city's tourism.
A major issue for any largely populated city like Houston is a high crime rate. We have to remain vigilant every day of our lives in order to lessen the chance of becoming a victim. Houston's police numbers are low by comparison. Houston has 5,170 officers serving a population of 2.4 million people, though Chicago being half the geographic size of Houston operates a force of 12,500 officers. As Mayor, I will ensure that we fund initiatives that help curb violence, increase police presence, partner with programs that help reduce gang activity along with sex and human trafficking.