Anti-gay activist and Houston Community College Board of Trustees member Dave Wilson (R) is threatening to recall Houston mayor Mayor Annise Parker (D) and any city council members who vote in favor of an ordinance that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of gender identity and discrimination.
Wilson is best known nationally for winning his spot on the Houston Community College Board of Trustees by misleading voters into believing that he is an African-American. He filled his fliers with black faces pulled from stock photography websites and claimed to be endorsed by Ron Wilson, an African-American former state representative — when, in fact, he was endorsed by his cousin, who also happened to be named “Ron Wilson.”
Of the eight largest metropolitan areas in the United States, Houston is the only one without these nondiscrimination protections. But according to Wilson, the equal rights ordinance is “absurd, it’s unheard of.” He also claimed that the ordinance is “pure payback for the mayor. She’s paying back her core constituents that support her.”
Wilson noted that the city’s charter allows for elected officials to be recalled on the grounds of incompetence, misconduct, malfeasance or unfitness for office, and claimed that voting for this “absurd” nondiscrimination ordinance would compel him and his supporters to believe the mayor “to be incompetent.”
The charter also states that citizens would have 30 days to organize a recall election. They would need the signatures of 25 percent of the number of people who cast ballots in the election. In the case of Mayor Parker — for whom 170,000 Houstonians voted in the last election — that would amount to approximately 42,500 signatures. But in the case of the city councilors that Wilson has also threatened to recall, that number would only be 2,500.
“It would be tough to recall the mayor,” Wilson told KHOU. “And that’s why we’re looking at the other strategy. All we want to do is defeat this ordinance.”
“It does make council members pause and reconsider,” said Bob Stein, a Rice University political scientist told KHOU. “I think it also shows that the mayor is weak in the eyes of at least somebody. And should this petition drive succeed, it might lessen her ability to push legislation through the council.”
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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