Kathy Whitmire 750 December 4, 1981 A Journal of Free Voices In Houston, it’s ‘Her Honor’ How She Did It By Wade Roberts Houston Downtown Houston. High noon. Unrelenting fall sun. No shadows. Dead quiet. Dust swirls around the base of the Texas Commerce Tower. A tumbleweed bounces through Tranquility Park: Somewhere, around the corner of One Shell Plaza, a lonesome dog yips. From the distant Englewood switching yard drifts the wail of a SoPac locomotive. It’s showdown time. Election Day in the Bayou City. appears on the steps of City Hall, facing the reflection pool. At the other end of the still water is another unmoving figure, this one considerably larger. \(Couple of close-ups, now. The short figure is the Widder Whitmire, the large one, Slowly, the two figures move a few steps closer. There’s’a jingling as they walk. Not spurs, though campaign money. Sheriff Jack jingles a lot louder. They stop, eyes glinting toward one another. Suddenly, there’s a commotion. The dust is kicked up, clouding the two figures. Finally, it settles. Only one figure remains. It’s the short one. The Widder fought the Sheriff The Widder won. SORRY, just couldn’t resist. I don’t know about the rest of Houston, but I had a grand ole time during the recent city elections. I haven’t had this much fun since . . . well, since Jack Woods discovered an obscure unfilled office and ran unopposed in 1976 to become Harris County inspector of hides and animals. The 1981 mayoral election had everything you’d want. Name-calling. Mudslinging. Million-dollar campaign chests. Mysterious Mailgrams. Even a real shoot-out; in River Oaks, no less. We sure as hell reinforced a few Texas Wild West stereotypes this go-round: “Buckshot, Mud and Money,” maybe? And if all that wasn’t enough, the damned thing even had its serious side, for those so disposed. Besides being great fun, the election signaled that the nation’s fourth-largest city may be chart AT HOUSTON’S city hall on a recent afternoon, the press secretary for Mayor-elect Kathyrn J. Whitmire exhaled a stream of cigarette smoke, gritted her teeth and spoke sternly into the telephone. On the other end of Twila Coffey’s line was Marvin Zindler, the quixotic TV newsman who blew the whistle on the Chicken Ranch. “Marvin,” she snapped, “my name is not `Honey.’ ” It was not really an important event, but it was one more signal, if one more were needed, that the nation’s fifth largest city will no longer be a stronghold of “good old boy,” Southern-drawl government. At 35, Kathy Whitmire, a diminutive winsome widow with solid feminist credentials, is taking over Houston’s helm after four distinguished years as city controller. Not only will she be the first woman to assume the $81,000-a-year post, thus be coming the nation’s best paid mayor, but she does so after soundly defeating a field of masculine opponents. First she turned Jim McConn out of office, bury What To Expect By Paul Sweeney
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