Annise Parker has been in city politics for a long time. She knows the players, the challenges and the negotiations it takes to get results in city government.
Parker says Houstonians are looking for someone with the leadership skills and experience to manage the city through tough economic times. And she says she has those qualifications.
"I've managed the city's $2 billion budget. I've managed the city's $12 billion debt portfolio. I have conducted audits of city programs and departments. I know how the budget flows, I know what works and what doesn't and I've made a number of reccommendations to improve city processes and city finances."
In the past, Parker says city leaders made short-sighted decisions and Houston paid the consequences.
"One of the challenges as we go forward — I was here during the downturn in the '80s and we stopped spending on infrastructure maintenance. We also closed down the police academy. Those are things we cannot do in the future. In order to have a liveable city you have to have water and sewer lines that function, you have to do the routine maintenance to keep the city going and you cannot neglect public safety."
Parker sits in a sunny room just off her kitchen, overlooking the back yard.
She carefully listens to each question about the city's future and her potential as its next leader.
What does she think about Houston's reputation as a sanctuary city?
"Houston's not a sanctuary city. We have a fair, balanced and I think effective immigration policy."
And what about zoning?
"It's difficult to manage a city that is as free-form as the city of Houston, but the City of Houston works. I believe that it is possible to better protect neighborhoods, to better preserve the property values and quality of life in neighborhoods while still allowing growth and development without zoning."
And perhaps most importantly, why does she want this job?
"I have the skill set. I have the experience and I love this city. It's...it's my home. I've spent my entire adult life here, my family has been here for generations, I want my kids to live here. I want this to be the best Houston it can be."
Although Parker has strong credentials in the mayoral race, she's also up against some tough competition. Houston At-Large Councilmember Peter Brown is expected to announce his official campaign soon, as are former City Attorneys Benjamin Hall and Gene Locke.
Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
For more information, visit Annise Parker's web site.