Thursday, September 17, 2009

Who Not to Vote For in Houston's Mayor's Race

Email from Annie's List

Does Gene Locke Respect Women?

More than 1.1 million women live in Houston (50.1% of total population) and in a matter of days they will choose who leads the City for years to come. As proven by the successful outgoing Mayor, that office has the power to influence millions of people’s lives all across Harris County. It is an awesome responsibility.

With that in mind, it is easy to see why some women (and men) in Houston have been given pause by the recent words and actions of Gene Locke and his campaign for mayor. Below you will find a few examples.


Locke made news again this week after an invitation for a “Ladies for Locke” event hit the blogosphere. It contains almost full page silhouettes of scantily clad women in high heels that have been compared to graphics you would find on a trucker’s mud flaps.

“I passed this around to a few of the young guns at our office to make sure it wasn't just me that was offended by it. In fact, in the words of one of them, "are they inviting us to a strip club?" The silhouettes of these women are just downright offensive. Wearing scarves and beads as shirts?” ~ Nancy Sims of as reposted by the Houston Chronicle on September 11th.


Despite the fact that his highly respected fundraiser had outperformed the finance goals for the June 30 report, he fired her for missing two staff meetings while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Walden said she was "shocked" to be let go just days after posting more than $1.14 million for Locke, $300,000 more than any other candidate in the 2009 contest. "I understand that Gene was unhappy that I missed work last week while I was being treated for breast cancer," said Walden. "We over-delivered in this campaign," she said. "He's a first-time candidate and outraised two incumbent city officials who had a donor base in place. Gene had nothing. We started late....I wish him well, but I'm very disappointed. I don't understand why anyone would be fired for the success that I had." (Houston Chronicle, July 24th).


Quote from Gene Locke at the July 7th Binglewood Candidate Forum on the subject of recruiting new businesses to come to Houston:

“I said to my wife the other day, I am going to hustle business in Houston just like I hustled you when you were single and you wouldn’t go out with me. I am going to be all over it.”


Quote from Gene Locke at the September 3rd ‘Women Professionals in Government’ Candidate Forum on the subject of recruiting and advancing women in the workplace:

“I do some of that with my law firm at Andrews Kurth, and one of the things that I have noticed with talented young people coming into Houston is, particularly women, they want to have the flexibility of options. Women are burdened with responsibility of both being professionals and homeowners – homemakers, and they are involuntarily homemakers sometimes. You have to put in place flex hours, meaningful arrangements to allow women to advance.”


During his tenure as City Attorney, Locke’s handling of a case involving a woman paralyzed by four gun shots in the back during a stalking/murder-for-hire attempt was called “appalling” by U.S. District Judge David Hittner

In 1998 a federal jury directed the city of Houston to pay $ 22.3 million to paralyzed shooting victim Barbara Piotrowski because police were aware of a murder-for-hire plot on her life but took no steps to warn her (Houston Chronicle, 1/21/98).

Locke had offered to settle the case for an insulting $5,000. Even worse, city attorneys closed their argument by engaging in a "finger-pointing tirade" against a wheelchair bound Piotrowski, causing angered jurors to hug her on the way out of the courtroom. And the embarrassment for the City of Houston has been memorialized in a best-selling book and movie called “Sleeping with the Devil.”


There is a popular adage that “once can be an accident, twice can be coincidence, but three times is a trend.” Each one of these occurrences, if examined in a vacuum, may not be egregious. All together however, there is a disturbing pattern that beckons questions about how Gene Locke views, understands and appreciates women.

Given that Gene Locke is asking to represent all Houstonians, including one million plus women, these questions are justifiable, if not imperative.


Annie's List is a statewide political action committee that is dedicated to recruiting, training and electing Democratic women to office in Texas. We have endorsed Annise Parker in the race for Mayor of Houston.

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