Parker leading polls as runoff date nears

Posted on 10 Dec 2009 at 6:39pm
By David Taffet | Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Houston Chronicle links Locke campaign to anti-gay mailer


IN THE LEAD | Polls show Annise Parker leading in the runoff for Houston mayor by as much as 6 points. (Dalton DeHart/Contributor)

When Houston voters go to the polls on Dec. 12 they could make history by electing the first openly LGBT person as mayor of a top 10 city.

Voters will also decide five city council races and pick a new city controller.

A Zogby poll commissioned by The Houston Chronicle and released earlier this week has openly lesbian mayoral candidate Annise Parker in the lead with 41.9 percent and gives her opponent Gene Locke 36.4 percent.

Although the undecided voters could erase that lead, this is the fourth poll since the Nov. 3 election putting Parker ahead.

Last Saturday, Dec. 5, Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats organized a phone bank for Parker. Travis Gasper, president of DSYD, said about a dozen members of Dallas Stonewall Young Dems and Stonewall Democrats of Dallas participated.

"Even members who had never phone-banked before got into it and enjoyed it," he said.

LGBT groups in Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, the Rio Grande Valley and Washington, D.C., made about 10,000 calls to Houston voters on Parker’s behalf.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Erin Moore called the effort historic.

"We tried once with Ed Oakley and had a good shot. We have an even better shot this time," she said.

Latisha McDaniel of Equality March Texas said, "I wanted to do my part and make sure that people get out to vote in Houston. Houston can have the distinction of being the first major city to elect an openly gay mayor. This would be a great image boost for the state of Texas after such a rough year for the LGBT community."

Former Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Jesse Garcia said a win by Parker would show that "people are willing to place their trust in and vote for an individual because of her abilities to run an office effectively. Electing a qualified, knowledgeable and trustworthy lesbian to run the largest city in the Southwest would do so much for our movement."

While her openness about her sexual orientation is of interest to the LGBT community, Parker has stuck to the issues during her campaign. Gasper said that her orientation was not an issue during the phone banking.

"Not one person we spoke with asked about Annise’s sexuality. They were concerned about issues affecting their family and their city. We talked about economic development and jobs, transportation and crime. Annise’s experience as a city councilmember and city controller makes her the right person for the job," Gasper said.

Earlier in the runoff, anti-gay Houston activist Steven Hotze endorsed a slate of candidates for the seven runoffs. Several asked not to be included and others accepted the endorsement while noting that they do not accept intolerance. Publicly, Locke, who has a good record on LGBT issues, was hedging on whether or not to accept the Hotze endorsement.

But this week The Houston Chronicle linked Locke’s campaign to Hotze’s anti-gay endorsement mailer. Parker pointed out that coordinating mailers between a campaign and a political action committee violates state election finance law.

Parker campaign spokesperson Jeri Brooks said, "It’s very clear Gene Locke is coordinating with Hotze." She said either he is lying or lost control of his campaign.

"We have to have a mayor who knows how to lead the city from day one in office," Brooks said.

In other election news, Dallas had two runoffs for school board positions this week. In District 9, which includes Uptown, Bernadette Nutall beat Sally Cain. In District 3, Bruce Parrott beat incumbent Leigh Ann Ellis.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 11, 2009.

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