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Sunday, December 13, 2009
Get your popcorn!!
This is gonna be a trip, folks! Houston elected their first lesbian mayor!
Annise Danette Parker was elected mayor of Houston on Saturday, winning her seventh consecutive city election and becoming both the first contender in a generation to defeat the hand-picked candidate of Houston's business establishment and the first openly gay person to lead a major U.S. city.
Parker, Houston's current city controller who first emerged in the public arena as a gay rights activist in the 1980s, defeated former City Attorney Gene Locke on an austere platform, convincing voters that her financial bona fides and restrained promises would be best suited in trying financial times. Parker, 53, will replace the term-limited Mayor Bill White on Jan. 1.
Her victory capped an unorthodox election season that lacked a strong conservative mayoral contender and saw her coalition of inside-the-Loop Democrats and moderate conservatives, backed by an army of ardent volunteers, win the day over Locke, a former civil rights activist who attempted to unite African-American voters and Republicans.
Parker harkened back to her earliest days of involvement in civic issues, when she served as president of Neartown Association, saying that work gave her the insight she needed as she headed into public office, and especially an understanding of the human repercussion of politics.
“Hear me: The city is on your side,” she said. “I learned about the problems and the needs and hopes of our city at the neighborhood level. I understand what needs to be done to move us forward.”
After introducing her family, including her partner, Kathy Hubbard, their three children and her mother, Kay Parker, she made a post-campaign promise to those who live in Houston.
“I promise to give to citizens an administration of honesty, integrity and transparency,” she said. “The only special interest will be the public. We are in this together. We rise or fall together.”
While some voters acknowledged it was a matter of concern, many saw no problem voting for a gay candidate, especially given Parker's assurances that she did not intend to expand gay rights through her position as mayor.
Ray Hill, the dean of Houston's gay activists, saw victory in more ways than one.
“For me, it means 43 years of hard work has finally paid off,” Hill said. “For Houston, it means we have finally reached the point where being gay cannot be used as a wedge issue to divide the community and prevent us from reaching our aspirations. Annise Parker is not our mayor — she is the city's mayor.”