Home>Features>Interview with Houston City Council Member Michael Laster

Interview with Houston City Council Member Michael Laster

REALTORS® Serving in an elected office

Q. What made you decide to run for office?

A. I grew up in a small town in West Texas, and most of what I learned about the world was through the eyes of news reporters. One of my earliest political memories is the Watergate scandal. Watching Watergate unfold really intrigued me, and I developed an interest in being a public servant. After I graduated from high school, I went on to attend the University of Texas and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. I then moved to Houston to attend law school at the University of Houston. I held leadership positions during undergraduate school and law school. 

My first real “lawyer job” was with the City of Houston, and it was where I had the opportunity to see exactly how the government works and how to implement policy. I bought a home in Sharpstown and became very engaged civically in my community. I first ran as a precinct judge and then went on to run for the Houston City Council.   

Q. How long have you been in office?

A. I have been in office since January 2012, and this is my last term before I become term limited. District J was created in 2010 when the population increased by 1 million. It was created from portions of District C, F and G. I serve a very diverse area with more than 180,000 constituents. 

Q. Why did you specifically choose to run for Houston City Council?

A. I live by the motto “bloom where you are planted”, and when District J was created I did exactly that. I bought my first home in Sharpstown, I had experience working for the City of Houston, so running for city council just made sense. I love serving the community where I live, work and play.

Q. Do you think more REALTORS® should run for office?

A. Most definitely. I believe that REALTORS® have a unique perspective and are integral in addressing some of the issues we are facing with housing, such as affordability and availability. REALTORS® also are the first line of defense in helping consumers understand the importance and flexibility that comes with homeownership. These issues are critical to building productive communities and cities.

Q. What is something you wish you had known before becoming an elected official?

A. I had been politically involved for many years before I decided to run for office. I cannot say there is anything I wish I had known before running for office, but the biggest piece of advice I can give someone who is thinking about running for office is to be part of the system before you get there, and make sure you know the key players before you throw your name on the ballot.

Q. What is your biggest accomplishment on city council at this point in your tenure?

A. One of my key focuses was to improve the parks in my district. I am happy to say by the end of my tenure, virtually all the parks in my district will have much needed improvements. One of the jewels of the district is a million-dollar skate park in the Gulfton area. The most incredible fact about the skate park is that it was designed by a group of young people in the neighborhood. The projected started in 2016, and after years of planning the group collaborated with neighborhood centers, numerous council members, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and the Houston Parks Board to develop what has  become the Gulfton Skatepark at Burnett Bayland Park. I am proud to have been a part of this venture and able to assist my constituents in bringing their vision to fruition.

Q. What is something interesting you would like readers to know?

A. I consider myself an open book, you can ask me anything. But I guess one thing most people do not know about is me, is that I am a trained pianist and one of my favorite songs to play is “I Saw the Light” by Hank Williams.  

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