Long before he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2004, Hubert Vo had a vision for Alief and the International Management District.
Alief is a little corner of the city that’s somewhat isolated, he acknowledged, but that can be remedied.
Vo has already started the wheels in motion for some of those changes, talking to Metro about the possibility of extending the light rail line all the way out to the western edge of town and giving a nod to some of the ideas put forth by the University of Houston’s Collaborative Community Design Initiative. The management district is already doing its part to help change the image, particularly by reducing crime and cleaning up graffiti, he said.
He also said he would like to see a greater diversity in the area’s population and business ownership, the latter of which is now about 40% Asian. He would like to see the area celebrated as a cultural destination for the city–sort of like New York’s Little Italy, he added.
One of the keys to drawing in new residents and new business is the turnaround is Alief ISD which has overcome challenges and is now a recognized district, he said.
“A lot of low-income housing projects have presented a challenge to the school district in the past,” he said. “We need to attract more young professionals to the area, and enhancing the quality of life and and maintaining the quality of our schools will help accomplish that.”
Vo’s goals for improving education extend beyond the boundaries of the District, as this is a key issue for him. When he and his family came to Texas in 1975 after the fall of Saigon, he realized the value of the education opportunities in this country. By working nights as a machinist at Hughes Tool Company, he was able to complete a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Houston. When he graduated, however, oil industry jobs were waning, but undaunted, he pursued other career alternatives––first in computers, then real estate and development.
On a recent visit to a technical training school in Corpus Christi offering dual credit high school classes, Vo decided that the same kind of vocational training could be accomplished here in Houston. Students trained in industrial and deep-sea welding can make as much as $50,000 to $60,000 right after they graduate and acquire their industry certification, he said. Vo has invited the Association of General Contractors––one of the sponsors of the Corpus Christi school––to come here next fall to explore the possibilities of a Houston campus.
In the legislature, Vo is also focused on making sure state college tuitions remain affordable for Texas students, and has co-authored legislation to keep college textbook costs in line.
“When textbook publishers revise expensive texts like chemistry books, I prefer them to sell students an insert instead of the whole book all over again,” he said.
In addition to being dedicated to education, the state representative remains a strong advocate for public safety and business development.
Today, he’s still committed to making improvements in those areas within the District and beyond.