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February 22, 2013

Houston mayor describes joys, challenges of running the nation’s fourth-largest city

Parker speaks before 125 at Blinn College

Houston Mayor Annise Parker

City of Houston Mayor Annise Parker described the joys and challenges of holding a position that comes with no instruction manual and relies largely upon experience Friday afternoon at the Washington County Forum hosted at Blinn College.

Founded in 1996, the forum was developed as a professional growth resource for Brenham-area residents. It is designed to host opinion leaders from fields such as business, journalism, sports and politics.

Parker spoke before more than 125 people in the College’s Brenham campus student center during a lunchtime event sponsored by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.
Parker said the most important job of any city is to make certain the fresh water is running properly and that trash and sewage are being disposed of.

“The job of an elected official is really unique. There is no instruction manual for what we do,” Parker said. “Most of our most difficult decisions have no real right or wrong answer. We make decisions in areas about which we have no real expertise, and many of our actions result in unintended consequences that may not be apparent for decades.”

Parker has been Houston’s mayor since January 2010. She is the city’s second female mayor, and previously served six years as a city council member and six years as city controller. She is the only person in the city’s history to hold all three positions.

“There is nothing that tells you how to be a council member or how to be a school board member or how to be a mayor,” Parker said. “Most of the time you are depending on your experience, your instinct and your evaluation of a city employee who has provided your information.”

Despite the unique challenges, Parker said she has the best job in the world.

“Part of the reason I’m so excited to come to work each day is that I truly believe that I have the ability to transform people’s lives to make them better, whether that is by providing a good platform of a city that businesses can operate on or more directly by getting someone’s water turned on,” Parker said.