Houston mayor the only U.S. mayor to break the list’s top 10
by Bradley Donalson
Be it good or bad, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have an opinion about Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker. On February 3, the City Mayors Foundation, an international think tank dedicated to urban affairs, decided it would also weigh in. Mayor Parker was awarded seventh place in the 2014 World Mayor Prize. Nominees for the honor were drawn from cities around the world, and Parker was placed higher than any other U.S. mayor—the only American to crack the top 10. In an email to CultureMap Houston, Parker states, “Being mayor of Houston is the best political job in the world. It provides the opportunity to shape the future of one of the great American cities. I am humbled that others view this work as worthy of being right up there with the accomplishments of my mayoral colleagues around the world.”
The City Mayors Foundation was established in 2003 to encourage city leaders from across the world to develop solutions to urban challenges such as governance, society, housing, transport, education, and employment. The World Mayor Prize is a project organized by the City Mayors Foundation and awarded every two years in the hopes of raising the profiles of mayors worldwide. World Mayor states that an outstanding mayor must possess the qualities of “honesty, leadership and vision, good management abilities, social and economic awareness, ability to provide security and to protect the environment, as well as having the skill to cultivate good relations between communities [of] different cultural, racial, and social backgrounds.”
Over the course of 2014, the list of candidates for the World Mayor prize was taken from 121 mayors and narrowed down to 26 finalists. The process of selection consisted of citizens presenting arguments in favor of or against a particular mayor as well as their accomplishments. The committee of fellows at the City Mayors Foundation concentrated on the accomplishments of each mayor, as well as the quality of the arguments made for them, as opposed to basing their selections solely on the number of submissions received for each mayor. Testimonials in Mayor Parker’s favor covered topics that were economic, social, environmental, and commercial. Some of the testimonials in her favor were as follows:
“Mayor Annise Parker is in her third and final term as mayor of America’s fourth largest city. Houston is a genuine international city, and Mayor Parker has led the city into embracing such a diverse population. She led the city into establishing HERO—Houston Equal Rights Ordinance—which affords legal protection in all aspects of law to everyone living and working in the city without regard to race, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, disability, etc. She fought for this measure even while she endured criticism from opponents for her openness about her being one of two same-sex parents to her children. She also has endured condemnation largely from Houston’s Christian community for her marriage in California to her long-time partner. Under Mayor Parker’s leadership and fiscal acumen, the city is booming economically as thousands from all over the world are making Houston home. In the midst of global recession, Houston has emerged as a leader in economic recovery.”
“Mayor Parker is proof that Houston is more than a conservative, old-guard ruled city. Houston is a progressive and cosmopolitan city full of open-minded and open-hearted individuals. She is a strong leader, a woman who loves her city and represents it well. HOUSTON LOVES MAYOR PARKER!!”
More information about the World Mayor Prize as well as the other top 10 finalists can be found at http://www.worldmayor.com/.