Our next Governor… As Bill White says, ” Texas should LEAD the nation, not LEAVE it!”

Bill’s from San Antonio (South of Hildebrand and west of Broadway) and was the Mayor of Houston for the last eight years… Hope you made it to the end! There’s a lot in here for you, Adam! Want to Harvard and then came back for law school in Texas.

Bill White knows how to make government more responsive and accountable:
As mayor of the nation’s fourth largest city he has tackled tough problems, improved public safety and balanced the budget — all while consistently lowering tax rates and increasing homestead exemptions for seniors and disabled residents.

That’s part of why Houston voters returned him to office with overwhelming re-election margins of 91% and 86%. He received national recognition for his leadership in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Bill White attacks waste:
He cut the City’s energy consumption by more than 6 percent at a time when Houston was experiencing double-digit economic growth. He engineered a restructuring of Houston’s municipal pension plans, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and making earned pensions more secure for employees.

Prior to becoming Mayor, Bill White helped Houston restructure its debt, freeing up an additional $80 million for parks and $40 million for libraries.

While serving as Deputy Secretary of Energy for the United States, Bill White led the Contract Reform Team which changed the way the Energy Department handled contracts and opened many of them for the first time to competition. These efforts saved taxpayers more than a billion dollars.

 Bill White knows and respects our state’s diversity:

Bill White grew up outside of San Antonio, where his parents were educators. As part of the movement for greater civil rights in the 1960s and early 70s, he led student volunteers on door-to-door voter registration drives in San Antonio’s impoverished West Side (no doubt knew Hillary when she started here!). Bill taught voting rights law at the University of Texas law school and testified before a Congressional hearing in the early 1980s in support of the extension of the Voting Rights Act. As a young lawyer in Houston he raised money to fund voter registration drives for the Southwest Voter Education and Registration Project.

As Mayor, Bill White has led revitalization efforts in Houston’s most neglected neighborhoods, which for decades have suffered from policies of segregation and discrimination. Under Mayor White, the City has reclaimed over a thousand abandoned lots, cleared out over two thousand blighted structures, and created “Houston Hope,” a comprehensive plan to improve neighborhoods and provide down payment assistance has resulted in hundreds of new houses being built in neighborhoods near employment centers for first-time homebuyers.

Bill White knows how to strengthen the economy:
The Houston area has led the nation in job growth during Mayor White’s years in office. In fact, the Houston area has added more jobs than 16 states combined. He knows what it takes to meet a payroll and how to create and keep jobs in the competitive global marketplace. He helped build one of Texas’ most successful businesses, creating jobs throughout Texas in operations such as hotels, drilling, and the design and construction of equipment to produce clean fuel.

He helped build and manage one of the nation’s most successful law firms, where he represented consumers and a variety of small businesses and investors. He also knows how legislation is made and how those laws effect people’s lives.

White served as the chief operating officer for the U.S. Department of Energy, with over 100,000 employees and contractors.. As mayor of Texas’ largest city, White has successfully managed Houston’s 22,000-strong workforce. He knows the importance of hard work, setting goals and ensuring accountability. Mayor White has required annual performance reviews of city employees, has established performance-based pay programs, and has been willing to ask low performers to improve or leave.

Bill White knows how to make energy more secure, more affordable, and more sustainable:
When he served as Deputy U.S. Secretary of Energy, he helped diversify the nation’s energy supplies and championed a large increase in public investment in energy efficiency. He has given more than fifty speeches on energy policy to expert groups over many years.

Before becoming Mayor of Houston, Bill White helped build and manage various energy companies, and was selected by representatives of both consumer groups and utilities to serve on the National Electrical Reliability Council.

Bill has engaged in diplomacy with many senior energy officials throughout the world on a variety of issues to make energy more secure and affordable. He has led large energy-related trade missions and served on boards of energy-related business.

Bill White built on Houston’s reputation as the world’s energy capital and set it on its way to becoming the global renewable energy capital as well. He made the City of Houston, the largest electricity user in the region, the nation’s leader in the country in purchasing renewable energy. During his tenure at City Hall, he cut the city’s energy use by almost 6 percent, despite double-digit growth in Houston’s population and thousands of new jobs. Houston became a U.S. Department of Energy “Solar America City,” for its increasing use of solar power. During White’s Administration, the world’s leading manufacturer of wind turbines chose Houston as its North American headquarters.

Mayor White began converting Houston’s extensive fleet of vehicles to cleaner burning hybrids. To date, more than 500 new-technology vehicles have been replaced in the fleet.

Under White’s leadership, Houston leads the C-40, the world’s 40 largest cities, in the number of buildings and amount of space – more than 11 million square feet – it has committed to retrofit to the more energy efficient “LEED” standards. He established a program that has helped thousands of citizens make their houses more energy-efficient.

He has initiated a program to refit thousands of traffic and pedestrian signals to LED lights, which are as much as ten times more efficient than conventional lights, with expected savings to taxpayers of millions of dollars annually.

Bill White also has led efforts to reduce gasoline use and traffic congestion by expanding flexible working hours, carpooling and tele-commuting. And he initiated an innovative program to synchronize Houston’s traffic signals, cutting commuting times and fuel use. He has prepared Houston for a large expansion of mass transit and increased the number of bicycle paths.

In addition, White has helped efforts to get young Texans more involved in science, math and engineering education so they can compete for jobs with a future in tomorrow’s energy industry. He has helped establish energy academies in Houston high schools, in a program now being copied throughout the state.

Bill White knows how to protect the environment:
He has a wide range of experience in making the planet greener and has been a champion of the environment through action at many levels.

As a U.S. energy official, he helped negotiate the treaty that closed down the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. As a private citizen, he personally funded an important study by the Houston Advance Research Center of the “urban heat island” effect and how to reduce urban temperature through greenspace and green roofing materials.

The Mayor has aggressively pushed for stricter enforcement and more scientific data for monitoring and regulating air toxic emissions. He helped spearhead the coalition of Texas mayors who successfully fought the building of unneeded coal-fired power plants across the state. Houston led in the use of infrared cameras and a mobile air monitoring lab to target harmful chemical emissions.The Mayor has petitioned the federal Environmental Protection Agency to more accurately monitor emissions. He has taken legal action and funded scientific studies to reduce the levels of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical.

The City now has aggressively purchased fuel efficient hybrid vehicles, including hybrid dump trucks and solid waste trucks. The City also supported its transit authority’s purchase of hundreds of new hybrid buses. These vehicles help preserve air standards and save taxpayers millions of dollars on fuel costs.

Solar panels have been used on some City buildings and in 2009 Houston will offer incentives for solar roofing in houses.

Mayor White has added significantly to Houston’s parklands and green space. Houston is No. 1 in total parkland acreage among the nation’s 10 largest cities. White, in partnership with Houston’s private and nonprofit sectors, has put into place a plan to plant a million new trees in the city. Some 25,000 were planted on Arbor Day 2009 alone. Mayor White made sure that the record amount of tree debris generated by Hurricane Ike last year was recycled into mulch, biofuels and other uses, rather than dumped into landfills. He has established a program to permanently recycle hundreds of thousands of tons of yard waste reducing landfill costs to taxpayers. White also is expanding Houston’s curbside recycling programs.

Mayor White initiated a Sustainable Growth Committee within Houston’s City Council and hired a Chief Officer for Sustainable Growth. He has strengthened the buildings codes to the make energy efficiency and conservation priorities. During a time when Houston has been experiencing double-digit growth, he put into place efficiency and conservation measures that have cut energy use by the City of Houston more than 6 percent. Houston leads the world’s 40 largest cities in the number of buildings and amount of space — 11 million square feet — it has committed to see retrofit to meet “LEED” standards for sustainability.

Bill White knows how we must invest in education:
Bill White’s parents both worked in public schools for decades, and both received recognition for their educational leadership. His brother, aunts and cousins taught in schools and non-profit organizations. Bill appreciates the need to keep education affordable, since his father was able to attend school on the G.I. Bill and Bill attended school on American Legion scholarships.

Bill’s wife Andrea founded the organization known as Houston A-Plus Challenge, which has raised over $100 million to improve public school education in the Houston area.

Bill White wants to encourage national adoption of programs that he has helped initiate in the Houston area. As part of Expectation Graduation, designed to cut the high school drop out rates, Mayor White has organized an annual “reach out to drop-outs” walk which 1,000 community volunteers join with educators to knock on doors of the houses of each young person who has not returned to high school for the fall semester. Related programs throughout the school year have brought back over 5,500 high school students in the Houston area. The program, initiated with eight high schools in H.I.S.D. five years ago, was expanded to 24 school districts in the Houston area and similar programs have been initiated through his contacts with other Mayors in Dallas, Forth Worth, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and El Paso. Bill White understands that keeping young people in school requires both publicly funded programs and involvement of civic leaders at all levels of government. For years he has asked high school freshmen to sign a commitment card to finish school, and has received many thousands of written commitments.

Houston has pioneered Summer Opportunity Sessions to help reduce summer learning loss among low-income students. Based on a study by the Brookings Institution, White raised private funds for the program which offers parents of second-graders a voluntary four-week summer program in a structured environment. Specially trained teachers offer “hands on” science. math and reading programs which engage the imagination and improve students’ skills during the summertime when many without access to books and other educational opportunities fall behind. The effectiveness of this program is tested by leading researchers and students participating have shown significant improvement in standardized tests for math and science over students without access to such programs.

My kind of leader! Boy, does Texas need him!

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