June 18, 2003
Mayoral melee

Ah, there's nothing like a candidate forum to get the political juices flowing and the elbows throwing. It's a good thing for Orlando Sanchez he's the front-runner, because everyone out there is hurling rocks at him.

On his right, Michael Berry accused Sanchez of being a part of the same cast of campaign workers and contributors that helped elect Lee Brown as mayor.

On his left, Bill White challenged Sanchez not to include City Hall lobbyists on his campaign staff -- a dig at Sanchez campaign advisers Dave and Sue Walden.

Sanchez, who almost unseated Brown in 2001 and is trying for the mayor's job again now that Brown is term-limited, weathered the criticism during the forum sponsored by the Building Owners & Managers Association of Houston.

I do think that Berry is getting some traction with his charges that Sanchez is too much of an insider and has too many members of Lee Brown's campaign team on his staff. I don't know how many votes this will translate into, but as I've said before, every one of them is a vote that would have gone to Sanchez otherwise, and from where I sit that's a good thing.

While I'm rooting for Berry on strategic grounds, I'm most certainly not a fan of his, and this is one reason why:

At the forum Tuesday, the only question that was directed to each candidate was about his opinion of Blueprint Houston, a citizen's group that is trying to develop growth strategies for the city.

Blueprint Houston's goals include cleaning the city's air and developing a public transit system that decreases congestion and increases density.

Berry charged that Blueprint Houston is controlled by interests inside Loop 610 that want to dictate their development strategies to the rest of the city.

He said that Houston has grown too large and too diverse to try and retrofit all 640 square miles with a development model that resembles the Heights or Montrose.

White, a Blueprint Houston member before he announced his mayoral campaign, called Berry's comments divisive.

"It's not so much that I disagree with his words, but I want to share with you an approach," White said. "In this city, you can't go around in a way that has so divided us, trying to label each other and dividing this city.

"It has been too divided by ethnicity and partisanship in elections."

This is not the first time that Berry has played the I'm-a-divider-not-a-uniter card in this race, and it damn sure won't be the last. When he slinks back into private life after this race, it will be good riddance.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 18, 2003 to Election 2003 | TrackBack