One-term City Council member Michael "Boy Wonder" Berry has officially announced his candidacy for Mayor in 2003, joining Bill White as an announced candidate.
Standing in a southwest Houston neighborhood that has had problems with city street and storm sewer construction, Berry promised to set higher standards for city workers.
"If you think we need to put a workhorse in the mayor's office -- and not a show horse -- I am your candidate," Berry said.
Berry, 32, would become Houston's youngest mayor since Oscar Holcombe, who was 10 months younger when he took office in 1921 than Berry will be when the next mayoral term begins.
Berry, who has declined to accept his $44,200 annual city salary as a council member, has said he also would decline the mayor's $165,800 annual salary.
"Some may think we are starting this race as an underdog, but the truth is, I wouldn't have it any other way," Berry said. "Today, the vast majority of Houstonians out there are paying higher taxes and getting less for it. I don't mind being an underdog because Houston taxpayers are underdogs, too."
Several in the racially mixed crowd of roughly 100 were Republican Party officials who said they now support Berry after backing Sanchez two years ago.
Among them were State Republican Executive Committee member Amy Jones, Harris County GOP Senate District 11 Chairwoman Sheryl Berg, Senate District 13 Chairman James Earl White and local precinct chairmen Bill Borden and Jim McGrath.
McGrath, a Houston consultant who was a speech writer for former President Bush, said a growing number of Republicans are disappointed that Sanchez has aligned himself with some campaign workers and supporters who helped Brown beat Sanchez in a 2001 mayoral runoff.
Houston's elections are officially nonpartisan, though they increasingly have split along party lines.
"I think a lot of Republicans supported Orlando Sanchez in 2001 because he wasn't Lee Brown," McGrath said. "Now, here comes Michael Berry, who is a Republican we think can do the job."
Soon after Berry's announcement, New Black Panther Party spokesman Quanell X issued a statement saying the candidate was not welcome to campaign in the black community.
Last year, about 40 protesters demonstrated at Berry's home because of his vote against a City Council resolution supporting a study of slavery reparations. It failed on an 8-7 vote.
Berry alluded to those protests during his announcement speech when he said, "Picketers in my front yard, hecklers at my speeches and professional character assassins will not intimidate me."
Berry has said he expects to preserve a coalition of blacks and conservative whites that helped him win his at-large council seat.
Quanell X said Berry's campaign can anticipate protests.
If you just can't get enough of all of this mayoral campaigning, I suggest you visit the candidates' web sites for a bigger dose. Here's Michael Berry's site and here's Bill White's. Orlando Sanchez's site is being renovated from his last run, and Sylvester Turner doesn't have one (yet). (Note to Sylvester Turner: What are you waiting for? Get a domain name now, lest the fate of David Dewhurst befall you. Someone already owns sylvesterturner.com and I don't think it's you.)Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 11, 2003 to Election 2003 | TrackBack