Attorney Amanda Edwards has worn many hats in the political and public service space, where her passion in law, civic leadership, and community building have bloomed into action.
After serving for four years as an At-Large Position 4 member on the Houston City Council, Edwards said she is ready to create a renaissance of bold change in city politics.
While on the council, Edwards served as vice-chair of the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee, Economic Development Committee, and the Transportation, Technology, and Infrastructure Committee. Additionally, she worked on task forces that addressed city-wide issues like congestion on Houston highways, environmental relief efforts in the city, and creating opportunities for women and minority small business owners.
In 2020, Edwards ran for the United States Senate, attempting to unseat Sen. John Cornyn. And most recently, she has continued her work in the non-profit space which focuses on helping senior citizens in the community.
The Signal spoke with Edwards on her run for mayor, issues facing the city, and her passions as a public servant.
“I believe that Houston is at a space and time where it can either go backward or forward,” she said. “We have an opportunity to really create a time, a renaissance in which everybody in our community can thrive if we have the right leadership that’s focused on dealing with challenges that plague some of our communities.”
This week, Houstonians across the city were requesting the council to delay the vote on a raised wage contract that incumbent Mayor Slyvester Turner negotiated in secret with the Houston Police Unions. According to reports, the lack of transparency concerns reform advocates who say contracts should be finalized after the city’s fiscal year budget is made in June.
Nevertheless, for Edwards, public safety in Houston means a collaborative effort between residents and law enforcement officers where community policing and proper training/resources for officers are at the forefront.
“I think it’s an effective model in which our police and law enforcement officers don’t have such an antagonistic relationship with the community that they are seeking to protect and serve but rather understanding by having a presence and relationships in neighborhoods,” she said. “They are there to protect and serve all residents no matter your zip code. Listen before speaking. It’s important because you understand what makes their communities feel whole and complete, and that’s the approach we have to take so we’re not in this space and place where crime is up right now, and people are desperate.”
With a background in grassroots community engagement, Edwards said she plans to keep the tight relationship between the people and officials and community leaders.
“The truth of the matter is this is a very diverse community; you got 142 languages spoken here just because the socio-economic status is at a certain level in one or two places doesn’t mean they have the same set of concerns somewhere else,” she said. “In this next administration [I can] truly partner with the community and bring them not just a seat at the table, but have some ownership in the outcomes and solutions. And that’s when you see long-term sustained change.”
On another note, Edwards also highlighted the city’s need to address infrastructure, flood mitigation, and transportation issues. She emphasized how every Houstonian undoubtedly knows the struggle of watching the news for traffic reports after a couple of hours of rain, dealing with house repairs after the devastation of another natural disaster or even driving around the city on a lovely spring day and falling into a pothole the size of a ditch.
“Nobody cares as a resident whether it’s in the purvey of the county or the city, they just don’t want to be flooded when they are driving down the street, and they don’t want water in their house,” she said. “We have to make sure as the city to collaborate with the county on draining issues. We have to keep our residents safe, we want to grow our city, and we’re not going to grow our city if people are scared every time it rains.”
Edwards is a born and raised Houstonian with roots in the Aldine area. After graduating from college with a degree in political science and earning her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, she worked in D.C. before making her way back home to work in financial law. A decision she said has only grown her love for Houston, the people, and a better quality of life.
“I love my community in a way that’s deep,” she said. “This is the type of work that is part of my passion and purpose. I want this to be a time where people feel empowered.”
Edwards jumps into the 2023 race for Mayor of Houston with two other opponents, Harris County District Clerk Chris Hollins and longtime state Sen. John Whitmire.