Monday, December 14, 2009

Houston elects fiscally conservative mayor

Oh, and a female mayor. Strike up the band! Another southern city demonstrates true tolerance, respect, and equality.

Oh, and she is lesbian. Start the parade! Another southern city demonstrates true tolerance, respect, and equality.

Democrat Annise Parker, age 53, currently the Controller for the City of Houston, neither made her sexuality an issue nor tried to hide it. She publicly appeared with her partner on the weekend before the election, then made remarks which focused on her fiscal conservatism.

This: first lesbian mayor of a major city, is a notable moment. Yet, at least in the south (Heh: what up NYC, Boston, Chicago, LA?), it is a moment which has been ready to occur at any time. Is anyone surprised - even a little bit? This moment has only been a matter of the right candidate matching up to the right circumstance. Congratulations, Mayor-elect Parker.

The Mayor-elect has a wonderful Houston background. From her "About Annise" page:
Annise’s roots in Houston run deep. She was born and raised here, as were her parents – who met as students at the University of Houston. She grew up in Spring Branch, and attended public schools. Annise’s mother worked as a bookkeeper, and her father worked for the Red Cross. He moved the family to the U. S. Army base in Mannheim, Germany for two years when Annise was 15. There, Annise earned a membership in the National Honor Society and served as president of the Red Cross youth service organization – volunteering as a candy-striper at the base hospital and working in the base library. Annise earned a National Merit scholarship to Rice University in 1974, and worked several jobs to pay for her room and board. She graduated in 1978, beginning a 20-year career in the oil and gas industry – 18 of them at Houston’s Mosbacher Energy.
Annise served six years as an at-large member of Houston City Council, winning key fights to improve our city government and our quality of life – creating the city’s $20 million Rainy Day Fund, a civic art program, tighter regulations for inner city development and the city’s non-discrimination policy. Annise was recognized as “Council Member of the Year ” by the Houston Police Officers Union and earned the “Distinguished Local Elected Official Award ” from the Texas Recreation and Park Society. [...] Annise and her life partner, Kathy Hubbard, have been together since 1990. They have two children.

Nice story. If Annise Parker is truly a fiscal conservative - and there's every indication she is - the elements are in place for a potential political career beyond the Mayor's office. It wouldn't surprise me to see, someday, Ms. Parker in elected office in Washington. She looks clear eyed, and possibly talented.

A note, to any GLTB people who excoriate the backward south: if you have eyes, open them. Houston cares that Annise Parker is fiscally conservative, knows and loves Houston, and has a record of accomplishment which indicates skill.

I expect tens of thousands of Parker voters are evangelicals who believe homosexuality is a sin, yet who nevertheless voted for Ms. Parker. Billy Graham spoke the balanced evangelical perspective:
"I believe homosexuality is a sin. But, I don't believe it any worse of a sin than the many sins I commit every day."

This story has been written in media as a triumph of gay and lesbian get out the vote (GOTV) efforts which overcame an organized drive by "religious conservatives" to defeat a lesbian candidate. Don't make me laugh. In Houston, TX, if religious conservatives don't want you to win, you don't win.

The true story - and I know it without even researching it: fringe-y evangelical conservatives organized against the lesbian; mainstream evangelical conservatives elected her to office. That is the only way to win in Houston, and THAT is the story. GLTB GOTV might have been effective, and might have pushed Ms. Parker the last bit over the top. However, GOTV was not even close to the major factor in her election. Here's the major factor: Annise Parker is fiscally conservative, knows and loves Houston, has a record of accomplishment which indicates skill - and, as a result, evangelical conservatives voted her into office.

There are unreported aspects to the attempt by "religious conservatives" to defeat the lesbian.

First, to set the scene, these were the candidates for Mayor of Houston:

Gene Locke and Annise Parker.

Yep, Houston is so filled with intolerant haters that the Mayoral runoff came down to a black man and a lesbian.

Given the candidates, and given media reporting, either

1) Southern white religious conservatives were heavily supporting a black man - which would shock the media, and would be a headline for media, IF media could get through their cognitive dissonance enough to process the implications of their current storyline that religious conservatives were opposing Ms. Parker


2) "religious conservatives" who organized to defeat the lesbian amounted to some (small?) number of black churches which: are largely evangelical and opposed to homosexuality, are often politically active, are likely to support a black candidate (see current national support for Pres. Obama).

That some black churches are politically active, and are eager to support Mr. Locke, would be a part of the story which speaks to motivation: maybe such churches were more motivated to support Mr. Locke than they were to oppose Ms. Parker; and maybe those churches went overboard in their tactics. It would not be the 1st time - or even the 20,000th time - in which some Democrats convinced themselves that a preferred end justifies a questionable means.

The media are reporting sloppily. Who are "religious conservatives"? I suspect a fringe of mostly black churches has been exaggerated out of proportion by a sloppy media, with a media-happy result that all Christians and all conservatives in Houston have been indicted by the sloppy reportage. Media will say "Gosh, we didn't intend to indict everyone". However, isn't it funny that most media sloppiness coincidentally indicts conservatives and/or Christians? Yes, isn't that funny? Ha ha.

One other open your eyes item which caught my eye in the About Annise page: "the city’s $20 million Rainy Day Fund". What fiscal truth does Houston know, yet NYC, Boston, Chicago, and LA do not? This is not a tricky question.

In addition to Houston's fiscal responsibility, note the State of Texas both
1) runs our budget in the black, and
2) has a $9 Billion Rainy Day Fund.

What is it that Texas, Mississippi, Utah, and Alaska know, and that New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, and California do not? This is not a tricky question.

2009 State Budget Deficits


Donna B. said...

It has been my experience that quite a few people took Martin Luther King up on his challenge to judge people by their character... unfortunately, too few of the most outspoken black "leaders" today find that attractive.

Living in Shreveport, I have seen the political power of black churches in action and it's not a pretty sight.

gcotharn said...

Your observation is worth musing about.

People, everywhere, will seize power when they can. Re churches: when a local church/minister inappropriately attempts to influence an issue, the local populace will shame/scorn that church/minister back into line.

Black churches/ministers are no different from any churches or persons. However, due to concerns of political correctness, the shame/scorn reaction of local populaces is different: they do not hold black churches/ministers to as high a standard of scrutiny.

Failing to hold black churches/ministers to the same high standard of scrutiny is actually a racist reaction. Second, it's bad for the community. Third, it's bad for black churches/ministers, as it breeds sloppiness and mediocrity. The higher the standard which churches/ministers are held to, the more excellence they will display.

Paul_In_Houston said...

Another southern city demonstrates true tolerance, respect, and equality.

Having spent most of my working life in this city, and returning here by choice (after a 10-year exile elsewhere because that's where my particular job was then), that doesn't surprise me at all. I can't think of another large city I would rather live in.

gcotharn said...


Blogger Hugh MacLeod was born in Britain, has lived in NYC, Chicago, NYC again, and some other places. Now lives in Alpine, TX. He says: Texas, by far, has the least racial prejudice of anyplace I've lived.

I know what you mean about Houston. I get tired of my state being slandered.

gcotharn said...

Actually, Hugh MacLeod - who has also lived in London, btw - may have said "Alpine, TX", as opposed to the larger "Texas". Don't want to misquote the man.