2010 marked another first for Houston. Annise Parker became the first openly gay mayor.
Annise Danette Parker was elected mayor of Houston, winning her seventh consecutive city election and becoming both the first contender in a generation to defeat the hand-picked candidate of Houston's business establishment and the first openly gay person to lead a major U.S. city.
Parker, who first emerged in the public arena as a gay rights activist in the 1980s, defeated former Houston City Attorney Gene Locke on an austere platform, convincing voters that her financial bona fides and restrained promises would be best suited in trying financial times. Parker, 53, replaced the term-limited Mayor Bill White on Jan. 1.
Her victory capped an unorthodox election season that lacked a strong conservative mayoral contender and saw her coalition of inside-the-Loop Democrats and moderate conservatives, backed by an army of ardent volunteers, win over Locke, a former civil rights activist who attempted to unite African-American voters and Republicans.
In complete but unofficial returns, Parker coasted to a comfortable victory with 52.8 percent of the vote to 47.2 percent for Locke. Turnout was 16.5 percent.
“..... the voters of Houston have opened the doors to history,” she said. “I acknowledge that. I embrace that. I know what this win means to many of us who thought we could never achieve high office. I know what it means. I understand, because I feel it, too. But now, from this moment, let us join as one community. We are united in one goal in making this city the city that it could be, should be, can be and will be.”
Parker harkened back to her earliest days of involvement in civic issues, “Hear me: The city is on your side,” she said. “I learned about the problems and the needs and hopes of our city at the neighborhood level. I understand what needs to be done to move us forward.”
After introducing her family, including her partner, Kathy Hubbard, and their three children, she made a post-campaign promise to those who live in Houston.
“I promise to give to citizens an administration of honesty, integrity and transparency,” she said. “The only special interest will be the public. We are in this together. We rise or fall together.”