Parker faces five challengers in mayoral race

October 26, 2011 4:28:53 PM PDT
Early voting is underway and among the races on the November 8 ballot, the battle for the Houston's top job.

Six candidates, including the incumbent, are fighting for one job. Yet less than two weeks before Election Day, the early voting turnout has been underwhelming.

It's a crowded field, not only the signs in front of early voting locations, but in the field of candidates for Houston mayor. Annise Parker is going for her second term with more than $2 million in her campaign account. But there are five other names on the ballot. It's somewhat unusual for an incumbent, but KTRK Political Analyst Dr. Richard Murray says these are unusual times.

"She took over the city with the finances very bad so she had to do things that aren't popular -- lay off folks -- situations she had no control over," Murray said.

Admittedly a stumble, the on-again, off-again Houston red light cameras and the Rebuild Houston drainage fee is an ongoing issue.

"There are always surprises. There are always things that you couldn't anticipate or even prepare for -- the worst drought in Houston history, but how you respond to those surprises, those crises are what define you as a leader," Parker said.

She stands by her record. Others are running against it. Among them is Jack O'Connor, a business owner, who is concerned about local job creation.

"I think that we have lost focus on jobs here rather than getting foreign companies to come in here and invest," O'Connor said.

Fernando Herrera, a Houston Fire Department deputy chief, is concerned about the city's higher fee and permitting costs.

"We need to eliminate those, we need to create a path for business, not a roadblock for business," Herrera said.

Dave Wilson once ran against former Mayor Bob Lanier. He, too, is brings up the city's business climate.

"The private sector is gonna have to create jobs -- not the government. The government needs to get out of the way of the private sector," Wilson said.

Kevin Simms once worked for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and has taught at several universities.

"Right now, the police and fire department pension funds are in trouble. We don't have any money. We need to bring money in the city quickly and I wanna stop the drainage tax," Simms said.

Amanda Ulman is a socialist candidate who also has a jobs plan.

"Working people need to get together and fight for a massive government jobs program to put millions of people to work, building the things we really need," Ulman said.

Dr. Murray expects the turnout for the city elections to be among the lowest in years, perhaps from political burnout because of next year's primaries and presidential.

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