It was not easy when in February 2012, the City of Houston, the fourth largest in the United States approved a payout of almost $4.8 million to settle a lawsuit over a takedown of controversial red-light cameras. A legal battle had erupted after voters proscribed the devices in a referendum. It was a hard-hitting moment as Mayor Annise Parker not only faced-off with divided council members, but also was caught-up between legitimacy of this contract, and the voters’ mandate to punctuate the process. But these are the demands of leadership in a complex situation – the capacity of the leader to collaborate crisis; patience to corporate with the opposition, knowledge to manage risks, and the ability to respect voters’ wishes.
Again, the two-term Parker has declared readiness to conclude the last segment of a two-year, three-tenure office. In fact, Parker kicked off her final re-election campaign at Stude Park last Saturday with overwhelming team of volunteers, declaring, "Working together, we can make that happen." Parker, an incumbent since January 2, 2010, brags more than 15 years city politics experience, having served as an at-large member of the Houston City Council from 1998 to 2003 and city controller from 2004 to 2009.
The charismatic mayor has remained committed to her vows of transforming the city to America’s best where residents live with least hassles, work and raise families. She summarized her endeavors with just a few instances; “We’re leading the nation in job creation. We’re “America’s Coolest City” (Forbes) and the 7th best place in the world to visit in 2013 (New York Times). We’re the #1 city in America to further a career (Monster.com). “
Favored by her stewardship over the years on Bagby Street where the City Hall situates, Mayor Parker remains an unwavering incumbent as she faces a few oppositions. Desperately seeking Mayor Parker’s job is a former City Attorney, Ben Hall (Democratic Party), who stands out among other contenders, including Don Cook (Green Party), and Eric Dick (Republican Party). Halls’ approach rather emits a surprise that may erode some trust. For instance, he reportedly hired Wayne Dolcefino, a former Channel 13 investigative reporter, to do "opposition research" for Hall. In his career, Dolcefino excelled in targeting successful politicians for negative story displays. For instance, his involvement in the 1991 Houston mayor's race between businessman Bob Lanier and State Rep. Sylvester Turner, it may be recalled, ended up as a heated court battle.
But Mayor Parker would always recite her mayoral legacy under a self-evaluation composition themed, “Decisive, Responsible Leadership.” She had taken over as Houston’s mayor when the United States, and indeed the world were faced with the worst economic recession in generations. She would always remind Houston how she engaged a bi-partisan coalition to save 5,000 jobs at the Johnson Space Center, or how she engineered a new reform team in place at METRO to preserve millions of dollars in threatened federal funds.
Besides a desire for excellence and the ability to adjust styles to meet situational demands, Mayor Parker’s leadership record articulated impeccable leader-follower relationship. In a city saturated with many nationals bred in different tribes and tongues, Mayor Parker systematically partnered with virtually every community, establishing constructive dialogue, listening opportunities, and a more technological citizens’ feedback forum. In a more constructive assessment process, it is right to say that Mayor Parker ascended to this rank when Houston’s demography changed with entirely contrasting figures.
Yet she persevered in embracing a new City’s demographic outlook, courting neighborhoods, and nationals, one domain at a time, while she inspired trust and communicated clear values. Today, after a two-term stewardship, mayor Parker maintains a substantial level of personal integrity, and exhibits a decent knowledge of the environment. She had demonstrated her aptitude to transforming plans into action; she had studied this City like the Holy Book, identified impending strength and weaknesses – and was able to transform those weaknesses into a green field of opportunities. This may be why she stood out confidently again, to declare readiness to undertake the last lap of a three-term tenure. Says Mayor Parker, “I am proud of our progress, but I know there is much more work to be done if we want to make sure Houston lives up to our full promise and potential.”