I have been to City Hall many times; however, I cannot remember a time when I was there to say something positive about Annise Parker. The purpose of my most recent visit was the reappointment of Gilbert Garcia. When Parker was elected, one of her promises was to bring change to Metro. One of the biggest changes was to appoint Gilbert as the Chairman of Metro. Over the last few years, I have had the pleasure to get to know Gilbert.
For years, I was involved with the light rail on Richmond fight on both a personal and professional basis; so, I am always extremely interested in the goings on at Metro. I met Gilbert the night of Parker’s inauguration and I knew that he was inheriting a disaster at Metro with no easy fix.
Frank Wilson, Metro’s former CEO, was hired by Mayor Bill White’s administration after the 2003 referendum. A series of Metro actions led the organization to move the voter approved Westpark rail line to Richmond. Needless to say, this decision was controversial, which set off a prolonged fight that saw Metro stripped of federal funds for its rail lines and the ultimate ousting of Wilson and many board members.
Parker made a campaign pledge to replace the board and she chose wisely by naming Gilbert as board chairman. Gilbert’s openness, honesty, and polite nature should be a benchmark for all appointed and elected officials. Gilbert was able to turn around the federal funding issue and the FTA funded the two metro rail lines now under construction, the North and Southeast lines.
I do not always agree with Gilbert politically and that is okay. Houston is a better place because of his stewardship at one of our largest public entities. Thankfully, he was reappointed to another term on July 16. Congratulations Gilbert!