The Race for the Nomination: Two More Presidential Candidates in the Running

Nation's Cities Weekly, June 28, 1999 | Go to article overview

The Race for the Nomination: Two More Presidential Candidates in the Running


This is the second in a series of articles The Weekly will run on major candidates seeking the presidential nomination. Included is a focus on key issues that could have significant consequences for municipal leaders and their cities and towns. Candidates are profiled after they formally announce their campaigns.

George W. Bush

In his first campaign-related trip outside his home state of Texas, Governor George W. Bush told a gathering of supporters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on June 12 that he is a candidate for President. At age 53, this is his first run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Bush began his career in the oil and gas business in Midland, Texas in 1975, and worked in the energy industry until 1986. After working on his father's successful 1988 presidential campaign, he assembled the group of partners that purchased the Texas Rangers baseball franchise in 1989. He served as managing general partner of the Texas Rangers until he was elected to his first term as governor of Texas in November, 1994. Bush became the first Texas governor to be elected to consecutive four year terms in 1998.

Governor Bush signed the largest tax cut in Texas history this year, which included $1.35 billion in local school property cuts and an increase in the state's share of public school costs. In Cedar Rapids, Bush said that among his first priorities as president would be to cut taxes. He promised he will eventually release a plan to "reduce marginal tax rates and simplify the system." At this point, it is not possible to gauge how cities and towns will be affected by the Bush tax reform plan.

Governor Bush has made juvenile justice reform a top priority during his tenure. In order to keep weapons out of the hands of violent gang members he has supported the enactment in Texas of a "stop-and-search" law to allow police to search juveniles for weapons as a condition of parole or probation. His other reforms have included creating weapon-free school zones, toughening penalties for selling guns to kids, lowering to 14 the age at which the most violent juveniles can be tried as adults, and encouraging the use of boot camps and "tough love" academies to house and rehabilitate juvenile offenders.

NLC policy supports federal assistance for the establishment and operation of youth courts to ensure swift and appropriate sanctions for certain juvenile offenses and direct, flexible funding to municipalities for local juvenile justice and delinquency prevention initiatives.

Bush also recently signed a bill which prohibits Texas cities and towns from bringing lawsuits against firearm manufacturers, dealers, and importers for the costs of gun violence on their streets, and he supported recent federal legislation providing for reduced waiting periods on weapons sales at gun shows.

A proposed NLC resolution, approved by the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Steering Committee at its spring meeting and forwarded to the Board of Directors for consideration at their meeting in July, states that "it is in the national interest for the federal government to ensure that cities and towns be able to bring suits against manufacturers, dealers, and importers to determine their possible culpability for firearm violence."

Governor Bush recently signed into state law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Among the significant provisions in this legislation is a section that affirms local government authority in the area of zoning. In effect, the new law enables local government to apply valid, constitutional zoning ordinances to religion-based uses of land, such as churches, synagogues, and mosques, and guarantees local governments' historic control over such land use issues as parking, building height, size and setbacks, landscaping, and traffic within their municipal borders.

NLC policy on preemption of municipal regulatory authority states that activities such as zoning or issuing permits, as well as municipal code development and enforcement are fundamental responsibilities of municipal governments. …

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