Race for Mayor: Steve Costello

Steve+Costello+has+kept+his+campaign+specific+to+three+major+issues+that+have+long+been+a+thorn+in+the+sides+of+Houstonians+%E2%80%94+improving+traffic%2C+prioritizing+public+safety+and+protecting+taxpayer+money.
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Race for Mayor: Steve Costello

Steve Costello has kept his campaign specific to three major issues that have long been a thorn in the sides of Houstonians — improving traffic, prioritizing public safety and protecting taxpayer money.

Steve Costello has kept his campaign specific to three major issues that have long been a thorn in the sides of Houstonians — improving traffic, prioritizing public safety and protecting taxpayer money.

Thomas Hopkins

Steve Costello has kept his campaign specific to three major issues that have long been a thorn in the sides of Houstonians — improving traffic, prioritizing public safety and protecting taxpayer money.

Thomas Hopkins

Thomas Hopkins

Steve Costello has kept his campaign specific to three major issues that have long been a thorn in the sides of Houstonians — improving traffic, prioritizing public safety and protecting taxpayer money.

Marialuisa Rincon, Staff Writer

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Though his subtle Long Island accent betrays his roots, Steve Costello hopes to bring the vision he has for the city he has made home to Houston’s City Hall.

Steve and Debbie Costello have been married for 39 years, much of them spent here after moving down south. A career civil engineer, Costello started a successful firm which he says is the model for what his administration would be. “[We] have always prided [ourselves] with delivering work to customers on time and on budget.”

Thus far, Costello has kept his campaign specific to three major issues that have long been a thorn in the sides of Houstonians — improving traffic, prioritizing public safety and protecting taxpayer money.

His top priority, he says, is fixing the out out-dated roadways and transportation system. Houston is gaining traction as one of the best places to work in the country and more people move here every day. With that, our highways are beginning to show signs of strain from 5 million inhabitants.

As a street and drainage specialist, Costello helped design and endorses the much criticized Pay-As-You-Go program. ReBuild Houston’s plan collects around twelve cents of every $100 collected from property owners to pay off the debt from previous drainage projects. He says that so far, PAYGO has shrunk drainage debt by close to $350 million and could lower the total debt by $1.5 billion over the next fifteen years.

Steve Costello is running for Mayor of the City of Houston. Election Day is Nov. 3.

Thomas Hopkins
Steve Costello is running for Mayor of the City of Houston. Election Day is Nov. 3.

“I’m very familiar with the budget process… [and] with dealing with the finance committee,” he says. Costello currently serves as the city’s budget chair and has unique insight and experience into the city’s finances. He is a proponent of zero based budgeting — an austere budgeting system that requires justification for every line item.

He states on his website that “states don’t go bankrupt, cities do”. With the pension deficit, current liabilities and other debts the city has incurred, Costello says it is a possibility without the right guidance.

Costello also proposes bringing pension control back into municipal hands. “We are the employer. We should decide what benefit package we offer the employee.” He says that Austin and other small towns in Texas have the same problems and hopes to meet with their mayors in an effort to form some sort of union to streamline approval from the state capitol.

He outlines two “minor” changes he would make to the present system in place – the elimination of cost of living adjustments and the elimination of the deferred retirement option plan. “That will yield a fully funded pension system and the elimination of an unfunded $3 billion liability.”

Voters have been wary to allow the police department any more growth, with many calling the budget overblown, this year they were allocated around 37% of the general fund budget.

Even so, Costello says his administration will work to hire 1,500 new patrol officers, more investigators, and resources within the next five years- without raising taxes. He says he will use around half of the money generated by his reformed pension plan, around $200 million a year, to “reposition” HPD.

Who do you think will be the next mayor of Houston?

  • Chris Bell (36%, 15 Votes)
  • Steve Costello (31%, 13 Votes)
  • Adrian Garcia (14%, 6 Votes)
  • Ben Hall (10%, 4 Votes)
  • Sylvester Turner (10%, 4 Votes)
  • Bill King (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Marty McVey (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 42

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As for HERO — the hot button topic in this year’s election — Costello says he fully supports the equal rights ordinance. “I don’t believe anybody should be discriminated against… as a businessman and as a person. I’m confident the voters will make the right decision.”

Costello says he is not driven by the need to leave a legacy, but with his ambitious plans he is certain to leave a lasting one. “I want people to say there’s the person who fixed the roads, solved the drainage problems, and brought the financial crisis in order.”

Even if he doesn’t win the race, Costello says it’s not the end of the world — that he will continue his work at Costello Inc., train for triathlons and spend time with his family.

Still he remains determined, and in his own words, “Who better to fix the city than an engineer?”

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Editor’s note:

This is not an endorsement from the The Egalitarian. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Egalitarian or its staff.

This is the third post in our Race for Mayor series where Marialuisa Rincon will be interviewing the top Houston mayoral candidates. You may contact her at mrincon@hccegalitarian.com

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