Businessman Bill King kicked off his second campaign for mayor of Houston Monday, officially launching a challenge to Mayor Sylvester Turner, who narrowly beat him in a 2015 runoff.
King has said his campaign will focus on “cleaning up City Hall and getting the city back to basics.” Last month, he launched a petition drive to amend the city charter by temporarily blocking political donors from doing business with the city.
“It’s time to imagine a city where the streets are paved, the trash is picked up on time, homes don’t flood, there are more police officers patrolling our neighborhoods and where the politicians work for the people and not special interests,” King said. “Houston is the city that put a man on the moon. Don’t tell me we can’t have decent streets, good drainage, and a balanced budget. We do not have to settle for what we are currently getting from city government today.”
“Back to basics” was the theme of his 2015 campaign, too.
At his kickoff news conference, held at The Wynden in Houston’s Galleria area, King cited crime, Harvey recovery and ongoing complaints about the city trash and recycling collection as key issues he would like to tackle if elected. Those issues, he said, are vital to Houston’s African-American residents, whose overwhelming support of Turner in 2015 helped nudge him over King at that time.
King said he spent time in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood over the weekend, and has plans to visit Spring Branch, Kingwood, Houston’s Fifth Ward, among others, in the coming days.
“We didn’t do a very good job in (the African-American community) last time,” he said in an interview. “And this time, we’re going there right out of the box.”
He is the second declared candidate to challenge Turner. Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee announced his bid last October. Buzbee, who is self-funding a campaign also focused on so-called “pay for play” deals, again questioned King’s credentials on the matter Monday. Both King and Turner have been criticized for their ties to tax collection law firm, Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, that has done business with the city and numerous other municipalities over the years.
“It’s amusing to me that Bill King thinks that’s going to be the issue he’s going to get traction on,” Buzbee said. “All it’s going to do is blow up in his face because he’s the worst offender. “He has no credibility on the issue.”
Sue Davis, spokeswoman for Turner’s campaign, declined to respond to specific critiques aired by King, but said little has changed about his platform in the four years since he squared off with Turner.
“Everything he says about the city is negative,” Davis said. “It’s the same old rhetoric — no vision, no ideas and no solutions.”