Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly LGBT person elected mayor of a major American city, officially filed re-election papers with the city clerk on Thursday. Parker is seeking a second two-year term in city elections this November. In a speech to supporters at Houston watering hole Howl at the Moon, Parker spoke of her great love for Houston and her job as mayor.
“I’m more in love with this city than I was when I started in this office on Jan. 2, 2010, and I do love this city. I’m more excited about the job than I was when I first started,” said Parker. “There’s an old saying that if you have a job you love then you never have to work a day in your life. It’s true. I love what I do, I’m excited every day to have the honor of representing the citizens of Houston and helping shape the future of this truly wonderful city.”
Two other candidates have officially filed in the mayor’s race: Kevin Simms and Amanda Ulman. Simms is a former staffer for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and currently serves as the night supervisor at the University of Houston Recreation and Wellness Center. Ulman is the perennial Socialist Party candidate. Neither is considered a serious challenger. Other candidates have declared their intent to run, but have not officially filed, including Fernando Herrera, who ran as the Republican challenger to State Rep. Jessica Farrar, the House Democratic leader.
As previously reported by Instant Tea, Herrera attacked Parker in July for the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau’s ‘My Gay Houston” Campaign, which seeks to attract LGBT tourists. Herrera specifically objected to an article on the My Gay Houston website titled “The Gay Boys Weekend in H-town” and questioned whether the campaign should be funded with tax dollars. The Convention and Visitors Bureau is funded by a hotel occupancy tax.
When asked if he expects further anti-gay attacks as part of the campaign, Victor Castillo, co-chair of the steering committee for Parker’s re-election campaign, conceded that, as an out lesbian elected official, she faces opposition based solely on her sexual orientation. “That has always been the case,” said Castillo, “but that is not a distraction for the campaign. The campaign is moving forward in terms of providing more jobs for the city of Houston, building a stronger local economy for the city of Houston — that is what Houstonians want.”
The most recent campaign finance report filed by Parker indicates she has a a war chest of more than $2 million dollar for the campaign. In contrast Herrera reports less than $4,000 in the bank and has raised a total of just over $12,000 in the election.