Annise Parker sworn in publicly

January 4, 2010 3:41:40 PM PST
Before a packed house of volunteers, supporters, and elected officials, Mayor Annise Parker made history as the newest mayor for the city of Houston. The event was the culmination of a year of campaigning, two hard fought elections, and a sprint to the inauguration finish line.

In a marked departure from the Bill White years, the event itself was held indoors, a promise kept to Parker's mom, who wanted an inside event if her daughter won. Nothing had to be said, but Parker's ascension to mayor has grabbed headlines around the world. As the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city, Parker's job will carry with it expectations beyond just running a city well.

A crowd of well over a thousand gathered at the Wortham Theater for the event. Parker's life partner, Kathy Hubbard, held the bible, and the crowd burst into a standing ovation as soon as the short oath was over.

"I do love this city," said Mayor Parker as she opened in inaugural address. After introducing her children and extended family, the new mayor asked for four things from Houstonians: Prayers, patience, persistent commitment, and admitting that elected officials do fail, she asked the crowd for forgiveness.

"Houston is a city built on dreams, but dreams powered by hard work, guided by common sense, and inspired by creativity," said Mayor Parker. She then touched on a variety of traditional city hall concerns: tightening the budget, public safety, flood control, and public transportation. These are the bread and butter issues she will be judged on as Mayor.

Though her campaign never focused on her sexual orientation, it was an issue impossible to avoid. Parker took time out in her speech to speak to the GLBT community around the country who watched her campaign turn by turn.

"We have a tradition of electing mayors (in Houston) not because of what they are, but because of what they believe we can do as a city," said Parker. "Do not fear to dream big dreams, bring your whole self to everything you do... I promise you the pain is worth the reward."

As she spoke, tears rolled the cheeks of some of her most ardent supporters. Outside, concerns that there would be a large crowd of protestors turned out to be unfounded. Only a handful of protestors showed up, and they didn't stay long. Perhaps the unseasonably chilly weather played a role.

Unlike the often long winded city council meetings, the inauguration ran on time, clocking in almost exactly at one hour and fifteen minutes. A rousing rendition of America the Beautiful brought the already jubilant crowd to its feet and the inauguration to an end. However, the celebration isn't quite over yet. A free concert is set to take place at Discovery Green tonight. The event, which is paid for by private donations, will include a variety of musical acts. Unlike the inauguration, the vent will indeed be outside.