Parker named influential ‘thinker, doer, dreamer’

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Mayor Annise Parker is receiving national accolades for what her gay Houston supporters already know: This three-term mayor gets things done.

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. A focus on less politics and more good governance. A streetlight project that reduces greenhouse gases. A $480 million network of parks and trails. That and more is why the national politics site Politico included her among The Politico 50, a list “of the thinkers, doers and dreamers who really matter in this age of gridlock and dysfunction.”

It's a list that includes a Supreme Court justice, White House power brokers, senators (among them, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz) and people with national political portfolios. Parker is among a handful of LGBT people on the list. Others include HRC's Chad Griffin, attorney Roberta Kaplan and journalist Glenn Greenwald.

But why Parker? Politico explains:

Houston’s energy boom and demographic upheaval have created a hybrid city, and no one better sums up the paradoxical result than the three-term mayor, Democrat Annise Parker. With an oil-business background and an eye on inequality, Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a large U.S. city, has taken the focus away from partisan politics and put it back on good governance—and it’s working.

A self-proclaimed “booster” of oil and gas in Houston, Parker has refused to raise taxes, supports limited regulation and hails the city’s unique lack of zoning as a way of encouraging market-driven economic development. But she is also slowly, if skeptically, testing the hallmarks of new urbanism in the sprawling, petro-powered city, recently signing off on Houston’s first “general plan” to encourage investment in certain areas. She has also launched a streetlight project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 5 percent and construction of a $480 million urban parks and trails network—America’s largest. And in one of the country’s most diverse cities—within a very red state—Parker is taking a stand for minority rights, even reportedly receiving death threats after supporting an ordinance that makes it illegal for businesses and city agencies to discriminate on the basis of sexuality, race or gender.

Her Houston is thriving, with the second fastest-growing economy and rate of job growth of any large metropolitan area in the country—and low living costs that give the city one of the highest per-capita incomes in the country. Amid the backdrop of a national political system frozen by hyperpartisanship, it’s a useful reminder: When you refuse to be held hostage by ideology, you’re free to actually lead.

Politico put Parker at No. 49. Really? Riding a horse, nailing the ALS ice bucket challenge and giving blood while making a case for LGBT equality should up her stock.


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