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First Openly Gay Mayor May Be Elected in Houston

(HOUSTON) On December 12, residents of Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, may possibly elect the first openly gay mayor. Yesterday, in a very close race City Controller Anisse Parker and former City Attorney Gene Locke emerged as the top two contendors. Parker and Locke have now entered in to a runoff situation, with the ultimate deciding votes to be cast next month.

The Houston Chronicle posted election results earlier today and with 100% of the precincts reporting, Parker led Locke by a small margin of 30.5% to 25.9% in last night’s election.

This morning, in a message to almost 8,000 Facebook supporters, titled “Victory Part – 1,” Parker expressed her gratitude and began by saying, “Because of you...WE DID IT! We came in FIRST PLACE last night!

“We have much to be grateful for – but our job is not done. I need to raise more than one million dollars in the next four weeks to compete with the projected spending of my opponent for the runoff.”

Parker, although the winner last night, is clearly gearing up for what is sure to be a highly contested race. Her opponent is not wasting any time either.

Locke also posted a Facebook message of his own titled “We Did It Houston - We're Almost There!” in which he communicated to 3,500 supporters, “the final fight lies ahead of us: We must work even harder over the coming weeks to take my campaign - OUR campaign - to the next level, so that we can celebrate final victory in December.”

Both candidates list numerous endorsements from Houston associations and residents on their websites. However, Parker, who is backed by organizations like SEIU Local 1, The Houston Chronicle, Semana News and of course GLBT groups, is facing some powerful opposition. Among Locke’s supporters are the Police Officers Union, the Firefighters Association, The Houston Chronicle Editorial Board and the Teamsters Local Union No. 988.

It likely that each candidate will attempt to gain support and votes from other recent opponents- City Councilman Peter Brown and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, Roy Morales, the only registered republican in the race.

Brown received 22.4% of the vote, and many suspected some of his votes swung to Morales who received 20.2%. Morales’ numbers were achieved without any major endorsements and the Houston Chronicle reports he did so with virtually no money, compared to Brown who spent $3.2 million.
Neither of these candidates has yet to issue an official statement and it is difficult to predict which candidate Brown will support, something he reiterated in his concession speech to supporters. “All of you need to get involved in this runoff,” Brown said. “I don't know what I'm going to do in this runoff, but my voice will be heard, I'll tell you that.”

Morales’ supporters on the other hand, may be leaning towards Locke. The Houston Chronicle printed an account of roughly 50 supporters who held hands in a prayer circle while the polls showed Morales trailing in the race.

“Lord give us victory," said Morales' supporter Eric Story. "We're going to fight as conservatives. We're going to see our city and our state and our nation turn around. God, it's not over. We can't stand by and see the lifestyle that's assuming she's going to win take office.”

The Houston Chronicle also reported that, “this year's race was tame for all but the final 10 days. From the early months of this year, the candidates focused almost exclusively on issues, policy ideas and endorsements. But many of their prescriptions for fixing the city's problems with crime, transportation and economic development differed only in nuance, leaving voters with little to distinguish one from the other.”

When there is very little to differentiate between two candidates, those candidates tend to resort to personal attacks and accusations. Houston is not likely to be the exception as this campaign is likely to draw national attention in the upcoming weeks.

More information about each candidate can be found at www.anniseparker.com or www.genelocke.com/index.asp.