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After Shady Campaign, Houston Community College Foe Becomes Trustee

by Published on
Dave Wilson

On Friday, Houston news station KHOU reported on the surprising election of Dave Wilson, a white anti-gay activist who beat a 24-year incumbent in a heavily Democratic and African-American district at least in part by pretending to be black. That story has blown up, but what few outlets are noting is that Wilson is a longtime and, heretofore, unsuccessful foe of the college system he has just joined.

During his run for District II trustee of the Houston Community College System, Wilson’s campaign materials never showed his face. Instead, they featured black families beside the words, “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.” One mailer crowed, “Endorsed by Ron Wilson,” suggesting the support of a former state representative who is African American. But actually the endorsement came from Wilson’s cousin Ron, who lives in Iowa.

Wilson, an electrician known locally for nuisance lawsuits and homophobia, doesn’t deny his intent to mislead. “Every time a politician talks, he’s out there deceiving voters,” Wilson told KHOU.

But besides being non-representative of his district politically and racially, Wilson joins the ranks of conservative neophytes elected to political bodies they openly despise. At a tea party event in October of last year, Wilson delivered a 76-slide presentation on why voters should reject the $425 million bond proposal to fund HCC, the gist of which was that enrollment was down and money is expensive. Despite his heroic PowerPoint, that bond passed. In 2011, Wilson sued the HCC trustees to prevent the purchase of land Wilson claimed was overpriced. The suit was summarily dismissed with prejudice and Wilson had to pay court costs.

Most of Wilson’s 20 years of relapsing-remitting political activity in Houston has gone like that. But he has had one other taste of victory. Before turning his eye on HCC, Wilson fought homosexuality. In 2001, he gathered enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot denying benefits to same-sex partners of city employees. That referendum passed. He followed up by running for mayor on an anti-gay platform, sending out tens of thousands of mailers saying Annise Parker, who is gay, should not be mayor because “homosexual behavior leads to extinction.”

In 2009, Wilson’s homophobia took a pitying stance. In one flier, he said, “I have nothing but compassion, respect, and sensitivity toward those trapped in homosexual behavior.” But by the time Parker won a second term, Wilson had gotten uglier. A capture of campaign website from December of 2011 features a Bible verse from Romans over an unsigned cartoon of Parker high-fiving Jerry Sandusky while saying, “You’re hired!”

The electorate that, perhaps inadvertently, elected Wilson last week also granted Parker a third mayoral term.

Wilson hinted at his new campaign strategy during his last failed run. Perhaps sensing that gay-bashing had lost its value as an electoral tool, Wilson released a statement two days before the 2011 election stating that he was not in the Ku Klux Klan, that Parker’s camp had spread a rumor to that effect, and that he had been a member of the NAACP for several years.

How much Wilson’s racial subterfuge helped him in last week’s election is unknown. The HCC system has been plagued by poor performance, and other trustees were forced into runoffs. But the effect could have been tiny and still decisive. Wilson beat incumbent Bruce Austin by only 26 votes in a race with more than 11,000 cast. Austin has asked for a recount, but with electronic voting, a reversal seems unlikely. An HCC trustee term is six years.

Emily DePrang joined The Texas Observer in 2011 as a staff writer covering criminal justice and public health. Before that, she was nonfiction editor of the Sonora Review. Before that, she was a waitress. She's also appeared in The Atlantic,, and VICE. She holds an MFA in Nonfiction from the University of Arizona and has won some things, including the Public Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists (2012), the National Health Journalism Fellowship from USC Annenberg (2013), and a nomination for a National Magazine Award in Reporting (2014). She still sometimes thinks about waitressing.

  • MichaelTolbert

    Voters in District 2 should be ashamed of themselves. This guy made you look like FOOLS who don’t deserve to have the POWER to vote in a representative democracy.

  • Keith Dollar

    Those who worship at the idle of the nanny state have only their own stupid ass to kick, but we all know that is impossible because they are not intelligent enough to know whom they actually voted for. May God Bless Dave Wilson!

    • unclejeems

      Well, I’ll just park my truck here, let it idle by the curb, and ask–satire, right? Very, very clever. By the way, God and I had breakfast this morning, and he didn’t mention Dave. An oversight, do you think?

    • aihfl

      I wish you all would go ahead and secede from our “more perfect union,” and make it a little more perfect. Texas values are not that of the American mainstream, something I have a feeling we can both agree on. Go ahead and leave. You will be living in third world conditions where the haves live in gated communities patrolled by armed guards and the have nots…well, just don’t get sick or get shot. For those of you that think that you’re already there, you’re not. Take a trip to Central American or to Brazil. Of course most of the Texas I’ve met are so shallow they probably don’t see anything wrong with that picture. Mess with Texas.

  • InsideCOH

    The article is full of lies, but Christphobes (people who hate persons that practice their religious beliefs) like the current author of this article have no qualms about printing lies.

    The author failed to notice that enrollment is down, less than 50,000 students. HCC was selling the bonds because it was busting at the seams almost 100,000 students. Wilson was right HCC and certain trustees were lying to the public.

    The suit was dismissed because HCC rather than go to court, paid for the property using other monies than the ones on which the suit was based. Once they bought the property the case became moot.The property is on Westheimer,, drive by there look at it and judge whether it is worth the money that HCC paid for it.

    Dave Wilson has only filed one lawsuit against HCC.

    Dave Wilson is not a foe of HCC but of corruption, Christphobes like the author would rather spread lies than allow a person to voice his opinion on homosexuality. Christphobes are out to destroy religion.

    Non representative of the district, what a racist statement by a Christphobe.

    Gay bashing, by that I take it that you mean that Dave Wilson voices his opinion on homosexuality. The bible regards homosexuality as perversion, both old and new testament; Again Christphobes are out to destroy religion. By the way Wilson did use “Gay bashing” so maybe it has not lost its value.

    Annise Parker like the writer of the article are liars and have no qualms in pushing a homosexual agenda. Parker like Austin resorted to lies, Austin that Wilson wanted to bring back chain gangs.

    Manuel Barrera

  • Run Castro

    This is not the first time a douchebag has lied to seek election. May God slap the shit out of Dave Wilson.