November 5 Houston’s Mayoral race is no joke: you must vote the incumbent or perish

Politics is all about interests grounded on a philosophy of “who gets what?” Voters make their choices based on their individual and communal policy-making expectations and necessities. Thus, the choice of keeping the incumbent must be based on not just his accomplishments but also the quality of his challengers.

In just is few days, voters in Houston would go to the polls to make their choices over a roster of candidates running for various city office positions. Among those contests, the mayoral race is considerably critical—coming when the disastrous team in the White House has flung democracy in the United States into a chaotic experience. They have created bogus laws and executive orders to destroy families, law enforcement, commerce, and strangulate the very fundamental rights America was built on.    


BY ANTHONY OBI OGBO

Buzbee says he wants to end corruption, restore effective government and deliver results for all Houstonians, but it would take an ethical leader to restore ethical leadership.


But the Houston city government led by Mayor Sylvester Turner stood its grounds to protect the city against such challenges. He liberated the city from two major catastrophes; Hurricane Harvey and the Political Storm Donald Trump. Besides his leadership performance during this historic Harvey catastrophe, Mayor Turner also resisted Trump’s cold-blooded immigration policies; and rallied his law enforcement to focus on saving lives rather than a collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to tear up families. According to Mayor Turner,

“My job starts with the never-ending effort to provide a safe, secure and prosperous environment for every resident of Houston in their places of work, their places of worship, their school, their homes and elsewhere. The city does not try to do ICE’s job, nor does it try to impede ICE. And we will continue to be a city that builds relationships, not walls.”

There are other policy issues at stake in this election, but let us remember that no strategy actions would persevere without a peaceful and secured city.

While this may sound satirical, there are essentially two major candidates in this race–Mayor Turner and others. Turner’s argument rests on his first-term stewardship, touting a successful handle of the budget, a deadly Hurricane Harvey, pension system reforms and the economy. His closest rival, Tony Buzbee, objected. Buzbee is a decorated Marine, a successful lawyer and business owner running on governance ethics. He says he wants to end corruption, restore effective government and deliver results for all Houstonians.

Cover of International Guardian’s election edition.   Houston’s Mayoral race is, therefore, a fraternal call to vote the incumbent or perish. Just like America and Trump, if Houston scorns the current opportunity to keep its current leadership, this city might end up in self-destructive misery.  

But it would take an ethical leader to restore ethical leadership. For example, to date, Mr. Buzbee has not properly come clean on how and why a young Dallas-based female court reporter descended on his home and vandalized his valuable collections.  29-year-old Lindy Lou Layman was accused of smashing and destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of paintings and sculptures in Buzbee’s mansion. Layman according to Harris County court documents, poured liquid onto paintings, tore paintings off the wall and threw sculptures across the room, resulting in about $300,000 damage.

Challengers from left: Tony Buzbee, Bill King , Dwight Boykins, and Sue Lovell. In any election process involving an incumbent, the choice of a candidate must be based on not just his accomplishments but also the quality of his challengers.

In furtherance of his questionable moral worthiness, Mr. Buzbee has shuttled in-between parties courting the most questionable moments and supporting underhanded politicians. For instance, in 2002, he unsuccessfully ran for the Texas state House as a Democrat. But in2012, he supported squarely, Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry’s presidential campaign. That was not all.  In 2016, Buzbee hosted a fundraiser at his River Oaks mansion for then Presidential candidate Donald Trump, and subsequently gave $500,000 to Trump’s Inauguration Committee.

There might be nothing wrong with supporting candidates, but Mr. Buzbee’s double-dealing attitude with both the Republicans and Democrats possibly reveals con and disloyalty, and questions his moral decency in politics and leadership.

Please note that there might be nothing wrong with supporting candidates, but Mr. Buzbee’s double-dealing attitude with both the Republicans and Democrats possibly reveals con and disloyalty, and questions his moral decency in politics and leadership.

Another issue with Mr. Buzbee’s candidacy is his contribution of almost $10 million to his campaign. The message might be simple – that Bagby Street might be up to be mortgaged to a millionaire affiliated to Donald Trump. And you may not be surprised too if Hilton Americas becomes a Trump Tower.   

Other candidates in this race are rightly exercising their constitutional rights to vote and to be voted for. Yet their chances remain infinitesimal based on the latest poll by the University of Houston published on the eve of early voting. The poll shows that Mayor Turner could win without a runoff, as he keeps a wide lead over his opponents, with 43.5 percent support among likely voters.  Mr. Buzbee followed by 23.4 percent. Bill King and Councilman Dwight Boykins trail with 7.8 and 6.8 percent respectively. The rest of the candidates, including Sue Lovell, poled below 2%.

Replacing Mayor Turner must not just be based on his first-term superintendency, but also the caliber of his challengers.  Because the incumbent is not working does not mean that we should replace him with a numbskull unfamiliar with the people of Houston, their resources, and the city’s political terrain.

Mayor Turner is the incumbent. Replacing him must not just be based on his first-term superintendency, but also the caliber of his challengers.  Because the incumbent is not working does not mean that we should replace him with a numbskull unfamiliar with the people of Houston, their resources, and the city’s political terrain.

Mr. King actually  admitted when in an interview with ABC13, that  “I think that people probably don’t know the more human side of me because, uh, they see me as a sort of analytical person,” King says, proclaiming himself as somewhat of a nerd.”  So if the people do not know him, why is he in the race?

Politics is all about interests grounded on a philosophy of “who gets what?” It means that voters make their choices based on their individual and communal policy-making expectations and necessities. In just is few days (November 5), voters in Houston would go to the polls to make these choices. But as usual, the discussion question would be whether voters would go to the polls with emotional conscience regarding their interests or whether they would ignore those values to seek candidates peddling frivolous but deceptive campaign rhetoric.  

In typical electioneering process where the incumbent is seeking reelection, a contender must substantially establish four core causes;  

  • A blueprint to transform campaign promises into action.  To date, days before the election, these contenders have not offered any significant proposal besides the rendition of uncorroborated website campaign narratives.  
  • Contenders must show solid proof of policy-making competence. Buzbee and King had pledged to clean up the city office from corruption. But a proposal to fight corruption with amoral characters would bastardize any transformation process. It takes moral people to shape moral society.
  • Contenders must show a connection with the people. Houston, the most diverse nation in the country deserves a leader that is familiar with the multi-cultural face of the city. Mr. Buzbee does not know Houston beyond River Oaks’ vicinity where he resides. Another major contender, Mr. King actually  admitted when in an interview with ABC13, that  “I think that people probably don’t know the more human side of me because, uh, they see me as a sort of analytical person,” King says, proclaiming himself as somewhat of a nerd.” So if the people do not know him, why is he in the race?
  • Last, this position is for a city’s top leadership, not a store manager. Any contender ready for this position must have been tested in managing a high-figure budget; must possess unmatched knowledge of the legislation process, as well as running voluminous city’s day-to-day activities.  

Therefore, based on the aforementioned circumstances, Houston has a choice to make between an incumbent and some incompetent contenders yet to defend their campaign claims. In any election process involving an incumbent, the choice of keeping him must be based on not just his accomplishments but also the quality of his challengers.

Also, I must remind voters that Houston is a family. November 5 Houston’s Mayoral race is, therefore, a fraternal call to vote the incumbent or perish. Just like America and Trump, if Houston scorns the current opportunity to keep its current leadership, this city might end up in self-destructive misery.   

♦ Anthony Ogbo, PhD, Adjunct Professor at the Texas Southern University is the author of the Influence of Leadership (2015)  and the Maxims of Political Leadership (2019). Contact: anthony@guardiannews.us

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