Mayoral race heats up between candidates

HOUSTON As we are getting closer to the December run-off, the attacks have definitely increased. Gene Locke and Annise Parker are trying to differentiate themselves from each other. The biggest question is, will voters be paying attention?

In the hunt for voters, the last thing Locke and Parker want to hear is an opinion like Peter Diama's.

He said, "These two guys, I don't know. You can flip a coin."

So at forums they are sharpening their attacks on each other.

Locke said, "The reality is when (Parker) came in as city controller, she immediately, first year, opposed a tax cut that Bill White was suggesting."

In an email sent today, Locke's campaign says Parker voted against lower taxes, opposed capping homestead values and will raise taxes as mayor.

Parker disputes that, saying she was simply trying to protect needed city services.

"I have voted against lowering taxes on several occasions, when certain council members made motions that would have gutted the budget," she responded.

In return, Parker's campaign says Locke has ethical problems. Pointing out that his law firm, Andrews and Kurth, made millions from local government work and that clients like METRO and the sports authority create conflicts of interest, a criticism Locke calls disingenuous.

Locke said, "I am going to resign from Andrews and Kurth upon taking the office of Mayor. And the reason I have pledged to resign is because it will eliminate any possibility of a conflict of interest."

Neither candidate apologizes for the sharper tone.

"It's all about full disclosure," Parker said.

ABC13 Political Consultant Dr. Richard Murray says it might finally get some voters interested.

"It's a totally new game now," he said. "With a reset election, more people will vote in the run-off than in the first round. That will likely determine the election outcome, and they don't know who they're going to work for at this point."

Both Parker and Locke have pledged in this economy, they will not raise taxes if elected mayor. They've also said that public safety and the economy are their top priorities.

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