City Controller Annise Parker is running unopposed for reelection, so the profile on that race didn’t appear till today and really isn’t about her campaign anyway.
Parker, a lesbian who became Houston’s first openly gay elected official when she won an at-large City Council seat in 1997, is working against Proposition 2, which would put a ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution.
“I’ve never had so much free time during an election season,” she said, noting that she had expected opponents might try to ride anti-gay votes drawn to the polls by the proposed constitutional amendment.
“With Proposition 2 on the ballot, I thought it would be a repeat of 2001, where fringe candidates used the opportunity to make personal attacks,” she said.
That year, when she won her third term on the council, a measure prohibiting the city from offering benefits to city employees’ unmarried domestic partners was on the ballot. It passed. Parker retained her seat.
“I am who I am, and these are the issues I care about,” she said, acknowledging that it will be almost impossible to defeat Proposition 2 statewide.
“I hope Houston defeats it and sends a message that at least here, that kind of thing doesn’t get play.”
Given that Parker is now in a comfortable position to end her terms without any serious negatives on her record, one wonders what’s next for her.
The controller’s office sometimes has been a political stepping-stone. Kathy Whitmire went from controller to mayor in 1982, and Sylvia Garcia left the controller’s office to become a county commissioner in 2003.
Parker, widely mentioned as a potential mayoral candidate in 2009 if White serves the six years permitted under city term limits, left the door open.
“I want to stay involved in politics and like local government,” she said. “If you start looking beyond the job you have, you don’t do a good a job.”
I think the odds are pretty good that she’ll try for the Mayor’s office in 2009. All things considered, she’s probably the frontrunner already. Personally, I’m rooting for Adrian Garcia, but Annise Parker is a close second, and I think she’d make a fine Mayor. I’ll say this – I expect the 2009 campaign to be well populated, wide open, expensive, and likely more than a little nasty. In the meantime, there will be a lot of people leaving this door open for themselves.