Ernest McGowen, Sr., the second African-American elected to the Houston City Council and the father of the city’s Affirmative Action program, died at the age of 87 on Sunday.
McGowen was the first Councilmember for the northern District B, being first elected in 1980 after a successful lawsuit brought single member districts to Houston (something our Austinite friends are still fighting for) and stayed until term limits forced him out in 1994. He was a major advocate during the Whitmire Administration for increased affirmative action programs. Among his accomplishments were being the sponsor of the MWBE program (minority and woman-owned business enterprise), writing the ordinance prohibiting support of apartheid South Africa, supporting striking Sanitation Workers, and helping to establish MLK day as a city holiday.
Former City Councilmember Anthony Hall, State Senator Rodney Ellis, and U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, who all served with McGowen on the Council, commended McGowen’s record and lauded his memory.
RIP Councilmember. I was always remember him as a pioneer, a hero, and a fighter always for what is right.
The Houston Chronicle has the full story.
Let me introduce myself, well not really. I grew up in Houston and took a special interest in politics from an early age. I blogged a little bit, starting in the 10th grade, mainly about local politics. I worked my last three years of High School for Mayor Parker, and so I have (or at least had) a good insight into Bagby Street Politics. Early this summer, right after graduating from High School, I worked with Judge Gilberto Hinojosa at the Texas Democratic Convention as he made his ultimately successful campaign for Chair. Now I am a freshman in college in Boston, Massachusetts. Obviously, I am a somewhat left-leaning person, so it would seem that Massachusetts is the optimal place for me, and heck I might stay up here forever, but I still have a unique place in my heart for Texas politics. There is something special about it. That being said, I decided the best way to stay up on it was to write about it, so here I go.
The astute will know that Houston City Councilmember Mike Sullivan won the GOP primary for Harris County Tax Collector a few months ago and, as promised, will resign in time for a special election in November. I’m not going to go into why Sullivan might be one of two Republicans I endorse this year, because that is a different story, but I would like to talk about the race for his successor. District E is comprised of Kingwood and Clear Lake, and such is the most conservative district in the city (Maybe “G” too). Sullivan has steered clear of being overly partisan (cough cough Mr. Berry), but I do not know if his followers will keep up the tradition.
First, there is Dave Martin. Martin is a school board member from Humble, and is quite the heavyweight of district. He is first in the ballot order and most definitely the frontrunner. Then there is Elizabeth Perez. Perez, just like everyone else, ran for the Houston City Council At-large 2 in 2011, and finished near the bottom. Evidently she is a Hispanic, Jewish Republican. She does not have a website (neither do the other candidates), but she does have a facebook page with about 180 likes (although it is rolled over from 2011). Finally, we have Lonnie Allsbrook, another retread. He ran for At-large 1 in 2009 and finished near the bottom, and has since moved from the Heights to Kingwood. Yes, Allsbrook is openly gay, but I would not so quickly categorize him as a Democrat. He endorsed the more conservative Costello in the run off in At-large 2009 after he was eliminated.
Most interesting, however, is how Kingwood dominated the candidate pool is. I guess the people of Clear Lake shouldn’t complain if they aren’t even willing to field a candidate. I believe Perez is from Meadowcreek, not Kingwood, but as she is by no means running on an anti-Kingwood platform.