Pam Spaulding

TX: out lesbian Annise Parker runs for mayor of Houston

Filed By Pam Spaulding | February 03, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Annise Parker, Houston, lesbian mayor, LGBT, LGBT candidates, mayoral candidate, Texas

Annise Parker is a popular elected official in Houston, and she's making a strong bid to become the city's first openly gay mayor. Parker is a past president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, and represents 2.2 million people as City Controller; Houston is the fourth most populous city in the US, so a win by Parker -- and she's a frontrunner -- would be momentous, particularly in a Red State.

Parker has a proven track record serving the people of Houston for the last 11 years - first on the City Council, and for the last five years she has been the City Controller. Her campaign video:

I'm a Houstonian, through and through. I grew up in this city and attended public schools. I worked my way through college, then up the ladder in our oil and gas industry for 20 years before I went into public service. This city has given me everything I have. I love it and want to give something back.

I am running because I am the most qualified to lead our city through tough economic times - and to make sure Houston keeps moving ahead.

• I have a plan to create jobs , secure Houston's future as the headquarters for new energy development and maintain fiscal responsibility . Read the plan at my website, and offer your ideas in our Houston Speaks section.

• As City Controller, I've used tough, independent audits to uncover millions of dollars in waste due to inefficiencies, redundancies and outright fraud. That money is now funding our police and fire departments, important after-school programs and senior centers.

• I've managed billions of Houston's tax dollars - and today, Houston is in much better shape than other cities that gambled their futures on risky investments and irresponsible budgets.

I love this city. I want to make sure it stays the best place in America to live and raise a family . And in this difficult economy, our next mayor will have no room for error.

I met the impressive Victory Fund-endorsed Parker at the women's roundtable during the 2006 International Gay and Lesbian Leadership Conference. The conversations among these openly lesbian officials was extremely interesting because one of the major issues they all had to contend with was "image-making" -- how they presented themselves to the public.

[E]veryone has an opinion about what you should wear, the amount of makeup you need, the kind of haircut you must have in order to lower the "fear factor" with potential voters -- it can be ludicrous. One interesting thing about all of the women on the panel -- they won in Red states, none of them hiding their orientation, all of them stressing the competencies that they would bring to the position -- and voters listened.

Parker later asked me about blogs, campaigns and the impact on elections. It's hard to say -- either from the bloggers or pol's perspective, what it all really means. It's clear that blogs can help -- and hurt campaigns because the turnaround is so fast, and reaches so many. There's no set of standards for blogging -- anyone can mouth off about anything, of course, but it's clear that the new medium cannot be ignored altogether. It's safe to say that over time, politicians, gay or straight, have to engage the blogosphere. There are no standards, no guidelines other than the principles of the blogger and their reputation, if one reads them over time.

Well, it's clear that she has a handle on the Internet campaigning today -- her web site has a blog, a video section and hooks up to her Facebook page. She has a "Houston Speaks" feature where she asks the city's voters to share their ideas about the future of Houston and offers voters and volunteers ways to network and mobilize. More on Parker from the Dallas Voice:

Parker was re-elected to the council twice after first winning an at-large seat in 1997, and she's in her third and final two-year term as controller.

"I made a point from that first race back in '97 to put on every piece of literature that I put out that year that I was the past president of the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus," Parker said. "It was part of my political resume, and I wanted everybody to know who I was, and I wasn't going to talk about it. I was going to talk about the needs of the city. And that was a really good decision and it served me well. Voters know me, they've been voting for me, and I think they're comfortable with me."

Parker and her partner of 18 years, Kathy Hubbard, have two adopted daughters, ages 13 and 18. They also have a son, now 32, whom they raised as foster parents.

Paul Scott, executive director of Equality Texas, the statewide gay-rights group, said if Parker wins, the biggest benefit would be to the citizens of Houston.

"We feel strongly that regardless of her sexual orientation, she's just the best candidate," Scott said. "The fact that she's a lesbian will also be a great benefit to the national, local and state LGBT community."

* Annise Parker on the issues
* Annise Parker's Facebook page
* Contribute to Annise Parker's campaign

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I hope Annise wins. She commented on my blog a couple months ago, when I wrote about the history of GLBT elected officials, and she gave me a very kind correction. I know she would be a great leader for Houston.

Just a little more: We probably expect a runoff after a race between 4 or 5 strong candidates. The dynamics of the contest depends on who makes it into the runoff, but Annise has a great shot. I live in suburban Pearland, so I can't vote for her, but I'll be sending a contribution.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | February 4, 2009 4:44 PM

This is one of those opportunities where we need to do all that we can to help an extremely qualified candidate who also happens to be a lesbian get elected.

Annise has been elected six times in city-wide races and is widely respected. With the economic challenges facing Houston, the residents of the city can't do better than Annise Parker.

I am so happy to hear that! Annise will make a wonderful mayor for my hometown should she win.

Annise is the early front runner in name-recognition and approval ratings, per a poll her campaign released today:

And of course, you can visit her web site to learn more and support her campaign.