Among a strong field of candidates for Houston City Council District C – the district that includes Montrose, Meyerland, Braeswood, Oak Forest, Southampton and parts of the Heights – Ellen Cohen’s track record separates her from the rest. We endorse Cohen on the strength of that record.
Most important, given the city’s painful lack of money, is Cohen’s experience handling big, difficult budgets. As president and CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center for 18 years, she managed a $6.2 million budget and a 120-person staff. And in the Texas Legislature, she served on the Appropriations Committee that, in 2009, crafted a budget bill that won unanimous passage in the House.
Her connections in the Texas Legislature would also help Houston. Though Cohen, a Democrat, narrowly lost her seat in last year’s Republican tsunami, she was respected by House members on both sides of the aisle. As Houston navigates tough situations that require action from the state Legislature – for instance, on the ballooning pension messes that threaten to bleed the city dry – her in-the-trenches relationships with the Legislature’s power players would prove especially valuable. Her calls would be returned.
We are impressed, too, by her support for education. In the Legislature, she was a member of the Higher Education Committee and joint author of the bill to create more Tier 1 universities in Texas (Go, Coogs!). If elected to City Council, she vows to fight for education-related services: to keep libraries and community centers open, and to improve after-school programs.
There is much else to like. Cohen’s ability to cut to the chase is a good fit for straight-talking, git-‘er-done Houston. She has a long history of fighting domestic abuse, supporting human rights and pushing for cancer research. And she advocates increasing the number of police cadet classes, so that the city has enough new officers to keep up with our growing population.
In a strong field, Cohen is an exceptionally strong candidate.