Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Annise Parker’s Inaugural Address—Mayor Parker Challenges Houston And Herself

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New Houston Mayor Annise Parker made her inaugural address this morning. I attended the inauguration ceremony.

( Above—Houston.)

Many citizens of Houston attended the ceremony. (My Houston blogger colleague John Coby of Bay Area Houston was there as well.)

Houston now has an openly gay mayor.

Mayor Parker used her speech today to challenge the people of Houston to take a larger part in shaping the city.

And whether intended or not, Mayor Parker challenged herself to lead an adminstration that focuses on more than just infrastructure and crime.

Infrastructure and crime are important issues in Houston and they are concerns Ms. Parker discussed at length in her campaign.

But in a city like Houston with a deep and disturbing history of poverty, environmental outrages, and political apathy, there is far more work to do than addressing residential flooding. (Though, of course, flooding is an important matter in our city.)

(For those seeking a better understanding of the social, environmental and economic landscape of Houston, the book Energy Metropolis–An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast connects many of the dots.)

In her speech today, Ms. Parker talked about a “city built on dreams.”

She said Houston would be “shaped together by its citizens.”

She said “We’re in this together.”

She said Houston is a city that “abhors elitism and selfishness.”

She said “Do not fear to dream your dreams.”

Mayor Parker said people should be engaged in “Developing the highest things they know.”

Mayor Parker made reference to her gay supporters and made note of the historic nature of her victory.

Ms. Parker’s words today, combined with her personal knowledge of what it is like to be an outsider and the scope of Houston’s problems, demand that Mayor Parker seek to include all Houstonians in the prosperity of our city.

Taking the cue from Ms. Parker’s words, it is up to the people of Houston to ensure that she governs in a way that helps all people and not just the wealthy, or big campaign donors, or only the appallingly small number of Houstonians who actually vote in city elections.

Will Ms. Parker’s gay supporters now seek victories and progress for every segment of our city?

Will progressive bloggers in Houston insist that Ms. Parker govern as the Democrat she is and the progressive she sometimes allows herself to sound like?

Will liberal, progressive and Democratic voters who voted for Ms. Parker remain engaged in city politics–as Mayor Parker has asked all voters to remain involved–or will we not hear from these folks again until the next election?   ( Here are the lyrics to the Phil Ochs’ song “Love Me, I’m a Liberal.”)

Will Houston’s Hispanics begin to take responsibility for gaining the share of political power  in Houston that their numbers merit? I think Ms. Parker will listen to anybody she sees as voting in good numbers and making a solid case with effective political activism.

I don’t doubt mayor Parker loves Houston as much as she asserts. Why wouldn’t she given her success in Houston?

At the same time, Mayor Parker knows that in many respects this city is a mess of poverty and pollution.

Let us follow her suggestion today and assist the Mayor governing in a way inclusive of all people of Houston. We can do this by taking part in city affairs over the two years of Mayor Parker’s term and beyond that point as well.

Let us also continue to remind the Mayor that she is a Democrat, a progressive, and a beneficiary of the never-ending fight for social and economic justice for all Americans.

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment