November Newsletter
11/07/2023, 01:15:01 PM

November Newsletter

Election survey explores top races, policy issues

The Hobby School released two reports on the upcoming Houston election focusing on who likely voters favor as Houston’s next mayor and controller and where they stand on the policy issues facing the city.


In the first report of Houston Election 2023, Hobby School researchers Renée Cross and Mark P. Jones found state Sen. John Whitmire and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in a statistical dead heat, each drawing support from about one-third of likely Houston voters.


The second report revealed crime continues to top the concerns of Houston voters. About two out of three likely voters say City Hall should also address the poor condition of city streets and roads, the economy and jobs and flooding.


Media coverage of the reports’ findings includes more than 50 citations, including Texas Standard, Houston Public Media, KPRC’s Houston Newsmakers, Bloomberg, Houston Chronicle, Houston Business Journal, Axios and Houston Landing.

2023 Houston Mayoral Debate

The Hobby School partnered with Houston Public Media and Univision Houston on a mayoral debate to reach Houstonians days before the start of early voting to empower them with information at the ballot box. Dean Jim Granato opened the debate, which was hosted on Oct. 19 at Houston Public Media's studios with Hobby School students, board members and longtime supporters in the audience.


A panel of journalists, including Houston Public Media's Andrew Schneider, Univision Houston's Marcela Pérez Barros and The Cougar's John Lomax, asked the leading candidates about their vision and priorities for the city if elected mayor. Data from the Hobby School’s election survey was used as the foundation of numerous questions throughout the debate. The event featured state Sen. John Whitmire, former Metro Chair Gilbert Garcia, former Councilmember Jack Christie, attorney Lee Kaplan and Councilmember Robert Gallegos. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was unable to attend because of the U.S. House speaker vote in Washington, D.C.


Watch "Your Houston, Your Vote" on Houston Public Media's YouTube channel and in Spanish on Univision Houston’s YouTube channel. Media coverage included stories from AP News, Houston Chronicle and The Cougar.

Texas Trends examines the state’s population and opinions

The Hobby School of Public Affairs and the Barbara Jordan–Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs launched its third annual Texas Trends Survey, a five-year project to study Texas’ changing population and opinions.


The first report in the latest series asked likely voters about six of 14 proposed amendments on the ballot, which, if passed, will amend the Texas Constitution to either increase state funding for specific activities or reduce the property taxes paid by most Texans. At least half of Texas voters said they support all six, and four of the propositions drew support from more than 60% of voters. The support ranged from 50% for Proposition 5, which would establish the Texas University Fund, to 70% for Proposition 6, which would provide funding to finance water projects statewide through the Texas Water Fund.


The second report  asked likely Texas voters about school vouchers and using state funds to pay for children to attend private schools in various situations. The third report asked likely voters about their vote intention in the Texas Republican primary election in March 2024 and in a hypothetical two-candidate primary scenario between former U.S. President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.


The first three reports were written by Texas Southern University’s Michael Adams, Hobby School’s Renée Cross and Baker Institute’s Mark P. Jones. Coverage of the findings included mentions by RealClearPolitics, a nonpartisan political news website known for its aggregation of polling data, and FiveThirtyEight, a national website covering the latest political polls and polling averages. Future releases in the 2023 statewide survey will examine electric vehicles, extreme weather and climate change.

Mark your calendars for the 2023 Hobby School Fall Mixer

Tap into the network of Hobby School students and interns, past and present, and Certified Public Manager participants and graduates at the Hobby School Fall Mixer, 5:30 p.m., Nov. 15, at One Emancipation Center. Meet new peers and reconnect with old ones and celebrate the 2023 Hobby Leadership Award winners. Internship host office partners are encouraged to attend. The event is sponsored in part by the Hobby School Alumni Association.




Brewing Violence: Foreign Investment and Civic Conflict


Hobby School Distinguished Professor Pablo Pinto and co-author Boliang Zhu of Penn State explored the unprecedented level of global economic integration and the growing incident of intrastate armed conflict in “Brewing Violence: Foreign Investment and Civil Conflict.” They were awarded the 2022 Bruce Russett Award for Best Article published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Sage Publications.


Pinto is director of the Center for Public Policy at the Hobby School. He applies his expertise in political economy, globalization, fiscal policy and taxation, political representation and quantitative methods to Hobby School research and teaching.

A new three-state report examines state-to-state migration from California


A new three-state report from the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research examines why people said they were moving out of California, what role politics and policy played and what implications these trends have for sustainable growth in the state. The fourth report in the collaborative series draws on a survey of California, Arizona and Texas residents conducted by researchers at the University of Houston's Hobby School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University's The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Stanford University's Bill Lane Center for the American West and Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. The Stanford University co-authors found California is losing population to Arizona and Texas at higher levels than ever before, including a greater share of college graduates and residents at all income levels. Hobby School Senior Research Fellows Richard Murray and Mark P. Jones lead the Texas survey.



New Certified Public Manager cohort commences executive training

The Certified Manager Program cohort kicked off its 2023-2024 executive management journey for government and nonprofit leaders. Fifty-three public sector professionals make it the largest CPM cohort to date, representing more than 20 municipal, county and nonprofit entities. They convene monthly and are divided into two groups throughout the 14-month program. The public service leaders sharpen their personnel administration, public finance, organizational communication, program evaluation and information systems knowledge through lectures, learning best practices and networking with peers. Participants graduate after completing a presentation and research paper addressing a management focus for the nationally recognized certification curriculum.


Hobby School business administrators Yvette Farnum and Cherish Wallace are part of the current cohort. Program Director Emily Janowski co-directs the program with professional executive management consultant Arquella Hargrove.


Law enforcement leader shares public service journey with Civic Houston Interns

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez joined Civic Houston Interns to share his public service journey and how the Harris County Sheriff's Office enhances public safety and builds community trust. He discussed the importance of understanding the root causes of incarceration in policing and encouraged students to be intentional in their endeavors.


Sheriff Gonzalez oversees the largest sheriff's office in Texas and the third largest nationwide. He is well-known for his holistic approach to public safety, which has served as a model across the state and country.

Conference strengthens network, strategies in public affairs education

Hobby School faculty, researchers and staff participated in the annual Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration meeting, networking with colleagues in the public affairs education sphere.


Hobby School presenters shared best practices and strategies at panels on public opinion polling and public service education. They met with peers who share the Hobby School’s mission to empower the next generation of public service professionals.


Dean Jim Granato joined faculty members Pablo Pinto, Gail Buttorff, Alan Witt, Chris Bronk and Peter Koelling, researchers Agustín Vallejo and María Paula Pérez, staff member Scott Mason, and Angela Evans, former dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Carroll Robinson, professor at the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University. The group returns with new tools to address the complexities shaping modern public affairs education.

Future public service leaders experience site visit

Court was in session for Next Generation Leadership Academy students on Wednesday as they experienced a tour and presentations hosted by the office of Harris County District Clerk Marilyn Burgess. They witnessed jury duty proceedings, explored the archives division and met Harris County Criminal District Courts Judges Andrea Beall and Raul Rodriguez. These future leaders are participants of The Volcker Alliance's Next Generation Service Corps, a national network of students seeking innovative careers rooted in public service and social impact and a program strongly aligned with the Hobby School's mission to increase civic engagement and real-world experience across industries and sectors.

Nominate an Outstanding Appointed or Elected Official

The Hobby School is accepting nominations for the 2024 Public Official of the Years awards. The selection committee led by the Hobby School Alumni Association encourages nominations of outstanding appointed or elected officials who have exemplified the ideals of public service in the Houston area. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 8.

Submit a Nomination



Scholarship honors commitment to public service

Meet the latest 2023 Richard Murray Endowed Scholarship recipients recognized for their passion for politics and policy and dedication to public service. The scholarship is named for UH Professor Emeritus and Hobby School Senior Research Fellow Richard Murray, well-known for his regional and state politics expertise. This group of scholars vary in academic pursuits, including psychology, public relations, public policy, journalism and social work.


Congratulations to Alexia Aguilar, Alexis Boehmer, Caitlyn Foret, Enrique Garcia, Gabriela Hamdieh, Cyrus Hosseini, Veronica Nwanna, Saron Regassa and Drew Tonjes!

Hobby School Alumni boosts numbers

The Hobby School Alumni Association has successfully merged the Master of Public Administration Alumni Association and Hobby School Alumni Association into one alumni community. The MPA has a rich history of advancing the next generation of public service leaders spanning five decades, which will further broaden the network of practitioners, mentors and community leaders dedicated to living out the Hobby School's mission.


Congratulations to the new board members elected at the September meeting. The officers include President Leonard Chan (MPA' 09), Vice President Victoria Jupp (MPP' 21), Treasurer Hector Jacobo (MPA' 22), Secretary Chaveli Solis (MPA' 22) and Communications Nimra Zubair (MPA' 22). Chan is a manager with the Houston Fire Department. Jupp works as a director with the Rice University Baker Institute. Jacobo is an administrator with UTHeath Houston. Zubair is an experienced teacher, higher education advisor and recruiter. At large board members include Jasmine Colvin (MPA ’20), Robert Edrozo (MPA ’12), Dylan Osborne (MPA’15), LaDawn Fletcher (MPA ’22), Laura Parker (MPP ’19), Matthew Moseley (MPP ’22) and Giovanni Rosselli (MPA ’23).


The board organizes community service events, social gatherings and professional development opportunities. Be on the lookout for ways to engage by following the association on Facebook.



New business director brings higher education experience to the table



Hobby School honors longtime advisory board chair

Alice Aanstoos was first elected chair of the Hobby Center for Public Policy Advisory Board in 2015. During her tenure, Aanstoos has overseen tremendous growth and milestones in degree, certificate and internship programs, an increasing Hobby School endowment, national accreditation for the MPP program and state funding for a new building.


The former AT&T executive was recently elected chair emerita and presented in absentia with a commemorative gavel by former vice chair Ashley Smith, who was elected to succeed Aanstoos as chair of the Hobby School Advisory Board at the October meeting.

Smith to serve as second Hobby School Advisory Board Chair

graduate of the University of Houston Law Center, Smith also holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas Cameron School of Business. Smith has served in several leadership capacities in private, government, education and nonprofit organizations, including CEO of The Institute of Rehabilitation and Research. He is currently general counsel for the Houston Community College System. 

Hobby School welcomes new board members

New board members Katherine Summerlin and Matthew Moseley were welcomed to the Hobby School Advisory Board at the fall meeting.

Hobby School in the News


Hobby School surveys Houston Elections 2023  and Texas Trends 2023 dominated the school’s media activity in October. “Your Houston, Your Vote,” a mayoral debate hosted by the Hobby School in partnership with Houston Public Media and Univision Houston, reached thousands of viewers by airing on primetime television and radio channels and streaming online.


Reports results and the mayoral debate were covered extensively in broadcast, print and digital media, including RealClearPolitics, FiveThirtyEight, Fox News, Bloomberg, National Review, Texas Tribune, Texas Standard, Houston Chronicle, Houston Landing, Houston Business Journal, The Cougar, Univision Houston, KHOU-11, KPRC-2 and Houston Public Media.  


The Hobby School has more than 350 media mentions to date.

Complete List of Hobby School Media

Hobby Happenings


Hobby School Happenings captures lectures, events, application deadlines, programs and collaborations hosted or co-sponsored by the Hobby School and its centers. Mark your calendars and join us for the next Hobby School happening.


Wednesday, Nov. 8, 9 a.m.
Houston Matters Political Roundup, Renée Cross
News 88.7
Listen Online


Wednesday, Nov. 15, 5:30 p.m.
Hobby School Fall Mixer
One Emancipation Center
3131 Emancipation Ave.

Friday, Nov. 17, 12 p.m.
EDR Center Care Lecture Series
Care Labor: Between Two Worlds
Monique Lanoix, St Paul University



Wednesday, Nov. 29, 9 a.m.
Houston Matters Political Roundup, Renée Cross
News 88.7
Listen Online


Thursday, Dec. 14, 5:30 p.m.
Graduate Programs Information Session


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