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What I want candidates to learn from Annise Parker's election

by: susanc

Sun Dec 13, 2009 at 00:42 PM CST

Many are celebrating today the election of a gay woman as the mayor of the fourth largest city in the country. That historic event should be celebrated. But I hope other aspects of her campaign are noted and remembered by those seeking public office.
Last year many wondered whether our country was ready to elect a person of color for President. While some voters still decide based on racial prejudice the majority of voters chose the candidate they believed to be most qualified without regard to skin color. The qualified candidate who ran the smartest, most organized and disciplined campaign won.
For the last year many wondered whether Houston was ready to elect a gay mayor.
Voters make their decisions based on numerous factors and motivations. Some still vote based on race. No doubt some voters chose either candidate last night based on skin color. Some voted for the man or for the woman. Some voted for her because she is gay. Some voted against her because she is gay. Some voted for whichever candidate they know the best. Some voted against whichever candidate they know the best. Some voted because one candidate shook their hand, said hello, or knocked on their door. Some chose because they agreed with literature they received in the mail. Some voted because they were offended by literature they received in the mail. Some chose because of TV ads or newspaper endorsements, or the advice of their friends.
When the polls closed and the votes were counted last night one thing was clear about the majority of Houston voters. Houstonians choose a candidate who is intelligent, qualified and has a record of exemplary public service who ran a clean, smart, aggressive and disciplined campaign. She turned out her base and won over independent voters. Her army of volunteers worked tirelessly. They did the work. All of it. Much of campaign work is not fun. Those who are willing to do all of it win. There is a price to win an election. I am not just talking about money. Too many candidates and campaigns think they can get the job by paying a discounted price.
The opposition candidate at a minimum, allowed others to use his campaign as a vehicle for hate, fear, oppression and bigotry. Houstonians rejected those tactics.
If you want to win public office you have to run a smart, aggressive and disciplined campaign. Do the work. All of it. Be prepared to pay the full price. It is worth it.
Judge Susan Criss

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