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Parker Elected Houston's Next Mayor

Parker Will Replace Bill White

POSTED: Friday, December 11, 2009
UPDATED: 11:35 pm CST December 12, 2009

Houstonians have chosen Annise Parker to be the next mayor of Houston, KPRC Local 2 reported Saturday.

Gene Locke, Annise Parker
Gene Locke, Annise Parker

With all 738 precincts reporting, Parker, 53, received 81,665 votes and Locke, 61, received 70,705 votes.

"This election has changed the world for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better, and that's what my administration will be about," Parker told supporters.

Locke conceded the race to Parker after about 88 percent of the precincts had reported.

"I want to thank Annise Parker," Locke said in his concession speech. "She has run a wonderful race. I am proud that she is now the winner. I congratulate her."

Locke thanked his volunteers and supporters for their hard work during the election.

"I still love Houston," he said. "This is a great city. What we tried to do in this election is a lesson for what the future of Houston can be. We tried to bring people from all walks of life, from all communities, from all political parties, from all ethnic groups, from all religions, working together. That's something that we can do. We didn't accomplish our goal this time, but we set the standard for where this city is going. For that, I'm proud."

He offered his suggestions as the city moves forward.

"Here's what our city needs now," Locke said. "It needs unity. It needs us to come together and heal like we've never healed before, and move forward under a new administration. Don't let past disappointments, past anger, past frustration, guide us into the future. Let's unite and work together. My pledge to Ms. Parker tonight in the first call to her was that I will work to make sure that this city is united."

In the November general election, Parker, the current city controller, received 53,919 votes, or 31 percent, and Locke, a former city attorney, received 43,974 votes, or 25 percent.

The election battle leading up to Saturday's balloting was marked by fierce campaigning and anti-gay rhetoric.

Parker is a lesbian who has never made a secret or an issue of her sexual orientation. But that orientation became focus of the race after anti-gay activists and conservative religious groups endorsed Locke and sent out mailers condemning Parker's "homosexual behavior."

Meanwhile, gay and lesbian political organizations nationwide rallied to support Parker by raising money for her campaign and making calls urging people to vote.

Locke tried to distance himself from the anti-gay attacks while courting conservative voters who could tip the race in his favor.

Although Locke condemned the divisive rhetoric, two of his key supporters contributed money to a conservative political action committee that sent out an anti-gay mailer earlier this month, urging voters not to pick Parker because she was endorsed by the "gay and lesbian political caucus."

Campaign finance reports show Ned Holmes, finance chairman of Locke's campaign, and James Dannenbaum, a member of the campaign's finance committee, each gave $20,000.

Parker will replace Bill White, who is term-limited after serving six years and is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

Several smaller U.S. cities have openly gay mayors, including Portland, Ore., Providence, R.I., and Cambridge, Mass.

Houston, the country's fourth largest city, is predominantly Democratic and about 25 percent black and one-third Hispanic. About 60,000 of its 2.2 million residents identify as gay or lesbian.

In addition to the mayor's race, Ronald Green and M.J. Khan battled to replace Parker as city controller. Green won the race with 71,846 votes compared to Khan's 71,846 votes.

Also on the ballot were elections for five City Council seats, for District A, District F, at-large position 1, at-large position 2 and at-large position 5.

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