This morning, I attended the official Houston inauguration at the Wortham Center. Mayor Annise Parker and City Controller Ronald Green were both inaugurated for their third and final two-year term in office. Additionally, the new City Council were initiated and took office themselves. Among the new additions to the Council were David Robinson and Michael Kubosh in At-large seats and Dwight Boykins, Richard Nguyen and Robert Gallegos in district seats. Brenda Stardig, who has previously served, also took office once more after a two year hiatus.
Parker and Green both had the oath of office administered by Vanessa Gilmore, a local Federal Judge. Parker then delivered a rather brief inaugural speech that was somewhat light on specifics. She did mention, quite specifically, the passage of a non-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT people. This move was met with only tepid applause from a fraction of the City Council, including the inconspicuous absence of applause from Councilmember Bradford. Actions meant to assuage the damage caused by hurricanes (read: Ike Dike) were also explicitly referenced, as was further improvement to roads and drainage. Perhaps the biggest shock of the day occurred when Parker announced her intention to “completely eliminate chronic homelessness.” This line drew big applause from individuals who have disagreed profoundly with the Mayor in the past, including, most notably, Michael Kubosh.
I talked to most of the City Councilmembers shortly after the inauguration, immediately preceding the first –albeit, ceremonial– council meeting of the new term. Most were simply looking forward to the next biennial in office, without offering
The business of this first council meeting is simply to grow accustomed to sitting in the horseshoe, as well as selecting both a Mayor Pro Tem and a Vice-Mayor Pro Tem. For the former position, Ed Gonzalez was re-selected. The astute will recall that Gonzalez, first elected to the council in an early 2009 special election, became Vice-Mayor Pro Tem in 2010 and then Mayor Pro Tem in 2012. As for the latter office, the picture was a little bit murkier.
C.O. Bradford has held that office since 2012, though he has noticeably differed from the Mayor in a few of her policy goals of recent. He also did not clap today when the Mayor noted a non-discrimination ordinance. Most notably, he joined a faction of about 6 CMs late last year to unsuccessfully attempt to water down the Payday lending reform ordinance. Bradford will be replaced by Jerry Davis in this office, though it was Bradford himself who made the nomination. Both confirmation votes were unanimous.