Engineers Turn Out for Fundraiser Luncheon for Sylvester Turner

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From left, Mike Voinis, Vijaya Rapolu, Sri Punukula, Ravi Yanamandala, Jawahar Malhotra, Sudhakar Kalaga, a guest, Mayoral Candidate Sylvester Turner, Jeff Collins, Karun Sreerama, Tony Sartori, Meera Victor, Sanjay Ram, Bobby Singh and Zafar Tahir at the ACEC fundraiser luncheon on December 3.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: This holiday season has given way to a Houston area election runoff for several important city races. Chief among them is the race for Mayor between Sylvester Turner and Bill King, a race that is closely followed by many for its focus on reducing the ballooning pension funding liability of the city.

Among the many groups that are supporting the candidates is the local chapter of the American Consulting Engineers Council PAC which held a luncheon fundraiser for Turner at the Houston Engineering and Scientific Society facility near the Galleria on Thursday, December 3. He said that fundraising in general was going well and that the citywide efforts by the PAC that had raised $268,000 for his campaign would get the ACEC very noticed. He invited engineers to the table to do something to move the City forward more efficiently. Among the close to 100 engineering professionals in the room was a significant contingent of Indians in the consulting business who were supporting Turner’s run in this election.

Turner thanked fellow mayoral candidate Steve Costello, an engineer, who lost in the primary, and has thrown his support behind him, for his endorsement. “He shared his concerns and never deviated from his position,” said Turner. “There will always be a place for Steve Costello in a Turner administration.”

Turner spoke of his record of 26 years in the state legislature “doing it the old fashioned way” and how that would help him forge an alliance wih other concerned State Senators like John Whitmire to negotiate with statewide police and firefighter unions for a solution to the city’s pension fund woes. He added that the financial situation must be resolved without adding more debt and that it should be a comprehensive package that would be submitted to the legislature when it meets next in January 2017. “We have to utilize this time to meet with all the stakeholders and discuss their concerns,” he added “and take on the Brotherhood of Police and Fire professionals.”

At the same time, Turner acknowledged that that in the City, of the 5,300 police officers, 1,900 would be retiring soon and of the 4,000 firefighters, half could retire “today”. “Let’s fix the problem in a fiscally responsible way,” he declared.

Turner said he was a good multitasker, having been in the legislature for 26 years, run his own law firm for 32 years, been a professor at TSU for 17 years and taken care of his ailing mother for 12 years. Turner concluded by stating that he had been campaigning for 22 months and “this is the last political office” he would be running for.