Mayor Parker kicks off re-election campaign

Mayor Annise Parker speaks to the crowd gathered at Discovery Green on Saturday to kick off her campaign for a second mayoral term

April 23, 2011 4:55:50 PM PDT
Houston Mayor Annise Parker is starting her re-election campaign, but with the budget crisis, many are questioning the timing of it. The city is facing a budget shortage of tens of millions of dollars. Just this week, the city has looked at laying off police officers and firefighters to help make up for the shortfall.

Saturday, Parker announced at an event at Discovery Green that she's looking for another term.

Despite what she called a "tough 15 months," Parker isn't showing any signs of slowing down. She's now officially looking ahead to a second term.

Donning a green blazer for Earth Day, Parker took center stage at Discovery Green to kick off her re-election campaign.

"There is nothing like being the mayor of your own hometown. I love my job. I'm excited about going to work every day," she said.

The mayor was quick to acknowledge some of Houston's challenges.

"I know there are problems out there," she said. "I know times are tough."

And given the city's $130 million budget shortfall, there are a lot of problems.

In the last year, we've seen furloughs for city workers and cutbacks on library and health clinic services. Jjust this week, the mayor announced thousands of potential layoffs in the city's police and fire departments.

"That's mainly occupied her attention, all these cutbacks," KTRK political analyst Dr. Richard Murray said.

Murray says her timing in announcing her re-election bid won't hurt her.

"With the general electorate, they know times are tough. So cutting back -- even on employees, while it's not popular -- doesn't hurt an incumbent mayor much in this city," he said.

While that is how some voters see it, others wait for what will happen to the city's police and fire departments.

"I think it's been a tough time for anyone. I don't think that anyone could have done anything that was going to be spectacular compared to what she did," voter Ryan Schweller said.

"I usually believe that those are the place they shouldn't cut, or at least shouldn't cut first unless absolutely necessary," voter Tim Finnegan said.

Dr. Murray added that a lot of city workers like police officers and firefighters so not live inside city limits, so their votes may not be a big factor in this election.

He also noted that Parker has a good shot in holding onto her seat. Houston has not defeated a first-term mayor in at least 50 years.

We've talked to the police and fire departments, and there haven't been any cuts yet. We told you earlier this week that Police Chief Charles McClelland recommended laying off 181 officers and 445 city employees. The fire department is considering cutting 200 positions to deal with the lack of money.

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