Houston Mayoral Press releases are flying back and forth today, with each candidate seemingly anxious to cast themselves as the "true financial reformer" in the race.
Annise Parker got the ball rolling questioning Locke's "conflicts of interest" stemming from his many connections (or, past connections, according to the Locke campaign) with Houston area insider organizations, many of whom have had a large role in crafting Houston public policy for three decades.
True to form, Locke responded by pointing out Parker's votes against the tax-rate decreases proposed by Mayor White during her time sitting on City Council. In response to that, the Parker camp fires back that Locke should "come clean" regarding his financial relationship with Andrews-Kurth and throws out the "cloud of impropriety" card....(Crowd: Ooooooh)
1. Locke's ad only tells part of the story. For one, Mayor White's tax-rate 'cuts' were very controversial at the time. Not only were there revenue desires by districts that led to 'no' votes, but there was a legitimate gripe that the cuts were cosmetic, and only meant to buy votes. Second, Locke leaves out Parker's strong record of good fiscal stewardship when running her department at City Council and as Controller.
2. Parker's ads contain some pretty creative omissions as well. For one, to date there has been no taxpayer bailout for the financing bills surrounding Reliant Stadium, Minute Maid Park and Toyota Center. Taxpayers have not been left "holding the bag". While I believe the potential is still there regarding an eventual taxpayer bailout, we're a long way from that point and it could still be averted by some wise decision-making by the next Mayor. Second (and possibly most importantly): Who was the City's "fiscal watchdog" during the time Andrews Kurth was taking advantage of City taxpayers by billing $604/hr? Oh, that's right....Annise Parker.
The take-away from this should be that each candidate is bringing some pretty strong negative baggage with them into this run-off. Gene Locke has to shed the "insider" mantle if he wants Hosutonians to believe that the age of running the City for the benefit of a few select interests has really come to an end. Annise Parker has to convince voters she'll do a better job minding the entire City than she did minding its finances during her term as Controller.*
It's connections vs. competence in the home-stretch. I'd like to say the person who does the best job answering the big question their campaign faces will be the winner, but I think we all know better than that...
The winner will be the candidate who does the best job rallying their base and getting out the vote to what's sure to be a very low turnout run-off.
*See!?! An entire post about the Mayoral and not one mention of the whole gay thi....oh wait....nevermind dammit.