In a close run-off race of historic proportions, Houston voters chose City Controller Annise Parker as Houston's next mayor. Parker defeated attorney Gene Locke Saturday with 53 percent of the vote. When sworn in in early January, she will become the first openly gay mayor of a major American city and only the second woman to hold the city's highest office. Kathy Whitmire served as Houston mayor from 1982-1991.
A three-term city council member and three-term controller, Parker touted her experience and credentials as a fiscal conservative. She promised to keep a tight rein on spending during tough economic times. Parker was endorsed by City Councilman Peter Brown, who placed third in the November general election. Brown appeared at Parker's victory party at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Early in the evening Parker showed up at the convention center to do a round of television interviews. She seemed optimistic about her chances, saying the economy was the biggest issue and voters trusted her to handle it.
Parker appeared again around 10:30 p.m. to claim victory, walking though the crowd of enthusiastic supporters before appearing on stage with her partner, Kathy Hubbard, and three children. Parker told the ecstatic crowd, "I do love this city."
"Here's the announcement you've been waiting for," she said with a sly smile. "I am proud, very proud, to have been elected the very first graduate of Rice University to be mayor of Houston."
She then acknowledged the historic nature of her victory as a lesbian elected mayor of the nation's fourth largest city. "I know what this means to many of us who thought we couldn't achieve higher office."
"But let us at this moment join as one community. We are united in making Houston the city it should be, could be, can be and will be."
Look for exclusive coverage of Parker's plans for Houston's cultural scene in CultureMap.