It’s not easy to get 20 minutes of face time with the mayor right now. This interview is literally squeezed in between meetings in a tiny security office on the ground floor of the Houston Chronicle building.
Parker admits she’s weary of the campaign trail.
“I don’t thrive on the campaigning. It’s not something I enjoy. I’m not the happy warrior. I’m ready for it to be done because I want to get back to putting my full attention to running the City of Houston. It would be nice to get a little extra sleep. But I am excited because I feel the momentum.”
Parker describes herself as an extreme introvert, using the words “shy, wonkish and reserved” to drive home the idea.
That natural reserve may help explain why she doesn’t poll well among voters. Only 34 percent of voters in the recent KUHF-KHOU Election Survey said they were likely to vote for her.
Most were undecided.
But 57 percent of them say she’s doing a good or excellent job of running the city.
“I love my job. I love my city. I’m excited to go to work every day. I’m not excited about campaigning, but I am passionate about the minutiae of government and I’m passionate about the ability to shape the future of Houston in big brushstroke ways, as well.”
Parker does acknowledge significant financial hurdles ahead from years of deferred maintenance on infrastructure, worsening street conditions and unfunded pension obligations.
She also ticks off her list of accomplishments: a better relationship between the city and Harris County, permanent housing for homeless veterans, a cleaner, greener city that’s finally getting positive press from the rest of the nation.
As for accusations from her opponent, Ben Hall, that she is corrupt and running a pay-to-play administration, her first inclination is to refuse to dignify the allegations with a response.
But, when pressed, she has this to say.
“I am aware, every day, in my public life that people will judge the gay and lesbian community by how I do in office. They will judge the ability of other women officeholders, by how I do in office. And I want to always be conscious of how my actions can be viewed, because I recognize that I act not just for myself and not just for the City of Houston, but I represent a lot of other people whose hopes are riding on my success.”
Parker says she makes mistakes and there are things she’d love to do differently in restrospect, but she’s not ashamed of anything she’s done in her time in office.
She’s hoping the voters give her two more years to keep doing the job she loves.
In the meantime, it’s back to the hard part, the campaign trail awaits.