We’ll leave to others the predictable analysis and sentimentalizing about what it all means and just say that the best candidate won. As Parker herself noted, her victory was historic in overcoming the long-standing stigma that has prevented Rice graduates from ascending to the city’s highest office. Our newly elected mayor has a sense of humor––it can be wicked, we’ve heard––and we’d imagine that will come in handy.
Locke never struck us a bad person, and in fact had the most interesting personal story of the entire field, but as we tried to point out in this space on a number of occasions, in a number of ways, there wasn’t much rationale to his campaign. Combining all that union support and promise-making with backing from the likes of Ned Holmes and Bob Perry made for one ungainly effort and a very muddled message. The current demographic equilibrium in the municipal electorate necessitates artful coalition-building–– that’s a good thing!––but welding the monolithic black vote to whatever anti-gay sentiment there is to be stirred-up apparently is not the ticket. (Rumors that Hotze the Herb Doctor and Dave Wilson were spotted loading up U-Hauls late Saturday night apparently were false.)
Locke was gracious in defeat, as was Parker in victory, and as a concerned citizen we would ask that Locke perform one more public service before he returns to the rigors of $640-an-hour public-agency lawyering: MAKE SURE SOMEBODY TAKES DOWN ALL THOSE GODDAMN SIGNS YOUR CAMPAIGN TACKED UP ALL OVER THE CITY ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. Yeah, that was overkill. Bizarre overkill. We plied the hustings a bit on Election Day and thought we even spied one tied to a fence outside a cemetery. Very unsightly.
Elsewhere on the ballot, we were pleased to see that Stephen Costello prevailed in the at-large Position 1 council race. He struck us as thoughtful and low-key, attributes that will be in demand on a council to which Jolanda Jones will be returning. We had no horse in the controller’s race––statutorily, we believe the controller’s main job is to lay the ground work for a future mayoral campaign––so once in the voting booth (or cubicle, whatever you call it now) we shrugged and spun the dial for our outgoing councilman, M. J. Khan, ’cause we figured it would be cool to have a lesbian as mayor and a Muslim as controller. Nah, not really. We just never heard Ronald Green offer a specific, detailed explanation of his troubles with the IRS. Lord knows we’re sympathetic with anyone who has problems with the tax collector, but the liens against Green, and the total he owes to the agency, suggest that he has a long-standing problem getting his own fiscal shit together. But apparently there are enough Democrats in the city playing Democrats-versus-Republican in supposedly non-partisan municipal politics to hoist Green to higher office (that includes Chris Bell, our former congressman [recently elevated, or demoted, to state senator by the error-ridden daily newspaper], who left an urgent message on our machine on behalf of Green). Now that he’s obtained a better-paying post at the public trough, we hope Councilman Green will be able to satisfactorily resolve this dispute (you can bet we’ll never hear back form the media on this particular matter, because winning cancels all debts, at least spiritually).
Now for the distressing news: We were stunned––okay, very surprised––by the results in our own humble District F, where lawyer Aloysius Hoang beat lawyer Mike Laster. The latter, a former assistant city attorney, had a long record of civic involvement in Sharpstown and apparently has lived for a number of years in a downscale, unfashionable neighborhood in the area, in a house that’s even smaller than ours and carries an even lesser appraisal for tax purposes. In other words, Laster was committed to the district. Hoang, by contrast, appears to have taken an address in District F for voting purposes, becoming eligible to cast his ballot there just prior to the November first-round election, and his wife claims a homestead exemption on an abode in Brazoria County. Almost every cent he raised came from fellow Vietnamese-Americans, many of them from outside of the district. (There’s nothing wrong with that, per se––that's how immigrant groups traditionally have gotten a leg-up in electoral politics, but it doesn’t exactly reflect support from the wider “community” you’ll pretend to represent.) Some benighted representatives of the media and academia will, of course, hail the election of a Vietnamese immigrant as some splendiferous triumph of “diversity,” but the actual story is infinitely more complex and, if we may stoop to rank sentimentality, sadder. The turnout for Saturday’s runoffs in District F was pathetic: Hoang won by about 500 votes of the 8,860 or so total cast. Aloysius found a convenient jurisdiction in which to pursue his ambition of becoming a macher in Viet-Am circles. We hope that from here on out he can be found laying his head on a goddamn pillow every night in District F (F is for “forewarned is forearmed”).
Okay, we were stunned. More on this as developments warrant.