Parker plans changes for Houston

HOUSTON Parker defeated former city attorney Gene Locke in the runoff election Saturday night. The decision makes Houston the largest city to elect an openly gay mayor.

Hours after being elected Houston's next mayor Annise Parker met with current Mayor Bill White. She is forming her transition team and laying out what changes she will make.

Parker spoke to reporters Sunday afternoon about her new role as leader of the city. She says one of the first priorities will be tightening the belt on the city's budget.

She said, "In the first months of my administration, I am going to spend a lot of my time telling people no and doing things people aren't going to like."

Parker says she does not anticipate any layoffs but maintaining the same level of service while cutting spending will be difficult.

The newly elected mayor also says she'd like to see change in the housing and community development department, improvements within the fire department on issues of racial and gender diversity and she expects to name her own police chief and would like it to be from within the current ranks of HPD.

Parker said, "I want a police chief who has the respect of the men and women in uniform but understands we can't keep doing things in the same way and expect different results."

Parker also answered questions posted through Facebook. Will she see that recycling bins are in all neighborhoods?

"I am a fanatical recycler," she said. "I want to see those bins in every neighborhood in Houston." On the topic of expansion of the light rail system...

"The key is to having an integrated multi-system and having everyone be engaged in the planning," Parker explained. "When I say everyone, I mean all the different stakeholder groups."

As for her place in this history-making election, she says voters may have changed the minds of people across the country about the city of Houston.

Parker said, "We are a diverse, international city that values what people can do, and welcomes everyone regardless of who they are and where they come from."

Parker will officially be sworn in as mayor in early January.

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