Houston Mayor Whitmire discusses city’s past and future at Rice Baker Institute event


Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy hosted Houston’s 63rd mayor John Whitmire April 3 where he spoke with Ed Emmett, Baker Institute fellow in energy and transportation policy and former Harris County judge, about the city’s finances, public safety, infrastructure, mobility options and delivery of services. 

“Houston as you all know is the fourth – I suspect the third – largest city in the United States, and it is the nation’s most ethnically diverse metropolitan area,” said Baker Institute Director David Satterfield in his opening remarks. “It is in many ways accurately described as the shape of America, future of America, destiny of America.

“We’re home to one of the youngest, fastest-growing populations in the world. Now, Houston is above all an international city with ties — vital ties, existential ties — for the city and its residents that stretch to all the corners of the world. We have 90 nations with consular representation, and I am told that is the highest total for any city in the United States with the exception of New York.”

John Whitmire and Ed Emmett
John Whitmire and Ed Emmett. Photo by Michael Stravato.

Whitmire and Emmett discussed their careers in public service with the mayor concluding “experience matters.” He credits his 50 years in the Texas state legislature as a representative and dean of the senate and his time working alongside nine mayors and seven governors with the experience needed to guide the city and “reach across the aisle.”

He spoke on the city’s efforts toward the homeless population, illegal dumping, trash services, public transportation and road safety and how he and his staff work tirelessly to make a difference for Houstonians.

“I think Houston’s greatest days are in front of it,” Whitmire said. “I know my greatest days are in front of me, because each day I’m still learning, and I’m going to use that experience and passion on behalf of the people that I want to put a smile on their face.”

Created and endowed by former Baker Institute Director and Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian and Mrs. Françoise Djerejian, the Director’s Lecture Series provides a forum for productive discourse to advance the public’s understanding of the most critical challenges facing Texas, the U.S. and the world.

View the recorded event here.