Criselda Romero: UH-D graduate runs for Houston city council in new Latino district
After a series of meetings and public sessions, Houston mayor Annise Parker, approved a redistricting plan that the city and community leaders felt was more representative of demographic realities. District J is one of the two new districts created this year.
The district encompasses Gulfton, Sharpstown and a small section in Alief.
Criselda Romero is one of the candidates looking to represent District J in city council. She has been a resident of the area for 16 years. Romero went to the University of Houston – Downtown where she got her bachelor’s degree in political science.
Before running for city council, she worked for Houston city council member Ed Gonzalez in District H.
Q: Why are you running for city council District J?
A: This is my community. I’m not going anywhere, and it’s my opportunity to introduce myself to everyone and get them connected back to the resources they need from the city.
The number one issue in this district is public safety and has been for many years. We need to see some change and get some leadership in here that is actually going to do something. Let’s think outside of the box. What works in another district won’t work in District J.
The district is home to a lot of Latinos, but we have never sent a Latino representative to city government because we didn’t have the opportunity to do so. Now we have grassroots support with organizations like CRECEN, which has been helping the community for over 25 years.
Q: What distinguishes you from the other candidates?
A: I have the experience that it takes to be successful. I’ve worked with many different communities resolving issues. I know this community, I know my community and the issues that need to be fixed because I can relate. With my experience from working with city council, I can come in from day one and start working.
Out of the council members we only have two, district H and I. Yet, we have a large population of Latinos in southwest Houston. For the city, we need some more representation for the Latino community. This is an opportunity we must take as well.
This is the community I grew up in. These are my neighbors, and these are my friends. I see that disconnect, where people need help but don’t know where to turn.
We need to stop and get things done here. I bring my message that is similar to those that I represent. I don’t think that there is any opponent that can honestly, genuinely say that.”
Q: If elected how do you plan on improving the district?
A: People are not connected to city government. They don’t see city hall as something that is accessible. I want to get in direct contact with the residents. I want to have a satellite office in the district so they don’t need to go to city hall to address any issues or concerns they have.
I’ll engage younger residents by utilizing the internet and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and electronic newsletters for pertinent information.
The youth dropout rate is really impacting the district. We need to think outside the box on this issue and Neighborhood Centers has come up with an innovative approach, with the help of federal funding, to get these kids back in school by bringing more stakeholders to the table.
It takes a whole community, a family, to resolve these issues. I want to bring them to the table.
We have a lot of vacant commercial space. I want to bring partners together and coordinate the effort to revitalize District J. A lot of times you have different entities working towards the same goal separately. I can bring those entities and resources together to leverage additional funds for our business district. Duplication is not effective.”
Q: What challenges have you ran into on the campaign trail?
A: The only one that I’ve seen is that you have a limited amount of time to reach a large amount of people.
Our population in District J is very transient. A lot of the residents live in apartment complexes. People who used to live there, no longer do, or phone numbers have changed.
As with any challenge you take it as it comes and you just find ways to bridge the gaps.
Q: What skills do college students need to develop to run a city campaign?
A: Writing to me is one of those big skills that you need so you can communicate. The biggest skill is having the drive within yourself. Nothing will be just given to you. You just take it. Take the initiative and just go for it.
You can come from any background, any education, but you have to have the drive.
Q: Any thing else you would like to say to the students?
A: I want to reach out to the college students. I want them to understand the importance of this new district. People fought for this district. We have it now. This is a real opportunity to get real representation and get a strong voice on city council.
The students who have lived in southwest Houston know what I mean when I say we need a Latino representative here. We need someone who is going to speak for what is right for our community and not put bandages on the issues.
I ask the students to join me. One person is not going to get this done. It’s going to take a community. I have supporters from the north side and the east end that come to southwest Houston just to make sure we don’t lose this opportunity.
We’ll be block walking everyday from now until the end of the campaign. We’ll see victory in November. Find us on Facebook and Twitter (CriseldaForJ).