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Overview of the Controller runoff

It’s another one of those partisan races. Sorry, non-partisans.

Chris Brown

Chris Brown

Though the job lacks policy-making authority, the race to become Houston’s next chief financial officer has developed into a partisan proxy war over how to correct Houston’s fiscal course.

In the shadow of the first open-seat mayor’s race in six years, Republicans have lined up behind accountant Bill Frazer as Democrats back Deputy City Controller Chris Brown to replace term-limited Controller Ronald Green.

Houston is facing declining sales tax revenues and a projected $126 million deficit next fiscal year, driven by rising pension costs, a nearing spike in city debt payments and a voter-approved revenue cap.

“It’s the most important unknown office in the city,” University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said. “Given the kind of fiscal dangers ahead for the city, the controller is going to be front and center in the battles over how to handle the city’s coming financial problems.”

Frazer and Brown agree that municipal pensions are the city’s top financial concern, and both say experience is the distinguishing factor in the runoff.

Bill Frazer

Bill Frazer


Nearly 23 percent of those who cast a ballot in November did not vote in the controller’s race.

As in the mayor’s race, the county parties and affiliated groups have now taken sides: conservatives for Frazer and progressives for Brown.

“I suspect the party will be a very strong predictor of who people will vote for,” Rice University political scientist Bob Stein said.

Basically, it’s like the runoff for Mayor, except for an office that has a lot less power and visibility. The article is a good overview of the two candidates. If there was a similar overview for the November election, I must have missed it. There was a story about a Controller candidate forum that among other things discussed their views on how the Controller’s relationship with the Mayor should be. Of interest is that Chris Brown was singled out as the one who had the most confrontational rhetoric. Bill Frazer was not at that forum, so there isn’t a basis for comparison. I note this because it was Frazer’s promise to be a foil to the Mayor – to be the “bad cop”, in the Chron’s parlance – that gained him their endorsement. Maybe it’s in the way they say it. Anyway, good story, go read it if you need to know more about these two candidates. KUHF has more.

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  1. joshua ben bullard says:

    why did chris brown fail to ever mention during one year of campaining that his father is former city council member peter brown?? and why did chris never tell the people that he has been a city insider for over 12 years,working at city hall as a staffer for an elected official, and he failed to mention that his salary at the controllers office is 179,000$ thats more than the controller himself ronald green makes .i do not think that houstonians want to keep city insiders anymore,we need to be offering new vision and new opportunity at the public sector.I understand why the houston chronicle endorsed bill frazer.joshua

  2. P.G.O. says:

    The article supposes this is a partisan race by ignoring the wide-range of Mr. Frazers endorsements. Which includes a number of prominent Democrats, including past candidates for the position of Controller. HCDP party executives , 29 past Presidents of the CRA society who are by nature an extremely non-partisan organization, Union support and 3 of the largest African American pastoral groups in Harris County who’s individual members are overwhelmingly Democrats.
    Mr. Frazers supporters are a true reflection of the City’s diversity.