Thursday, October 10, 2013

2013 Houston Mayoral Debate-What I Learned From Watching It

Tuesday night the one and only televised mayoral debate between all the candidates was on KUHT-TV, our local PBS station and hosted by our local chapter of the League of Women Voters..

Over the two hours of this forum style debate moderated by Linda Lorelle (which sadly is the only one for this campaign) I heard Mayor Annise Parker, who is vying for her third and final term, her top challenger in former city attorney Ben Hall, and four other candidates, Keryl Burgess Douglass, Eric Dick, Don Cook and Michael Fitzsimmons attack either Mayor Parker, Ben Hall or each other.  

I was looking to hear their views over the issues that I and many Houstonians deem important so I and my fellow Houstonians can have more information to cast our votes when we go to the polls starting October 21 for the early voting period that ends November 1 and Election Day itself on November 5..

Everything from crime to METRO was discussed in that two hour event, and I was looking at it from the prospect of which one of the people on that stage would be the best person to lead my hometown over the next two years.   

Mayor Parker also walked into the KUHT-TV studios with a sizable 34.1%-13.1% lead over Ben Hal in a poll conducted last month with Eric Dick getting 2%.  

But the poll also showed that as of the time they conducted it 48% of Houstonians haven't made up their mind as to which candidate they would support when the polls open.

If you wanted to put money on this race, odds are that Mayor Parker will be handling her electoral business and be taking the oath of office at the Wortham Theater come January.     

One thing that is perfectly clear to me after watching that debate is that my early anxiety about Ben Hall is being justified.  And no, it isn't the fact I have been an unabashed supporter of Mayor Parker at times on this blog either that has led me to this conclusion.  

I'm bothered by the fact that up until the day Ben Hall filed to run for mayor, he lived in the wealthy west side enclave of Piney Point Village. 

I'm not hatin' on the fact Hall has a compelling rags to riches story or earned that big house out there, but to me a major prerequisite that all potential mayors of Houston must meet is they actually live in my hometown's city limits, be it inside or outside Loop 610.

And by live inside the city limits, I don't mean rent an apartment or buy a house inside the city limits just before you choose to run for mayor and start writing checks for your self funded campaign after you've spent over a decade living outside and not paying property taxes in my hometown.   And no Hall supporters, having your law office inside the city doesn't count.
Hall's claim to support public education while not paying the school district taxes he owed to the Spring Branch ISD until pressed on the issue by the local media is a hypocritical red flag.  When you're self funding your campaign but refuse to release your tax returns, what's up with that?  

I'm interested in hearing Hall's views on the expansion of METRORail to the airports, building the needed east-west University Line before 2025 and adding a commuter rail component to it when he's not busy running attack ads or sliming Mayor Parker. 

The final straw issue for me was Hall dancing around the subject of whether he supports adding gender identity and sexual orientation language in the city of Houston's non discrimination ordinance, which is a tipping point issue for me. 

Mayor Parker supports that issue.

As for Keryl Douglas, she previously ran for Harris County Democratic Party chair and may have potential.   As for the rest of the minor candidates.  Don Hall?  WTF were you smoking?   Eric Dick?   Not ready for political prime time. Michael Fitzsimmons?  Making public transportation free?   METRO already has the lowest base fare of any major city at $1.25.   

So what did I learn from watching the 2013 Houston Mayoral Debate?  That we already have the best person for the job and representing my hometown to the world in our current mayor Annise D. Parker 

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