For those of us in news, election season is one of the best times of the year. For months, we see the debates, the rise and fall of candidates, we hear every buzzword, read every platitude and absorb every ounce of information of why so-and-so is the best and so-and-so is the worst for the future of the city.
When it came to this election I was a bit surprised. If anything, the only thing I found disappointing in this race has been the lack of pretty much any excitement. That’s not to say I enjoy finding out dirt on a group of people vying the top job in the city I call home necessarily, but when candidates are at least taking jabs at one another and pressing each other on issues vital to their candidacy, it’s far more interesting for coverage and gives residents a better idea of where each person stands.
I’m certainly not bemoaning the constant vitriol and negativity we’re witnessing right now in the presidential race (the less said, the better), and I have to admit it’s a nice change of pace. There wasn’t a complete lack of attack ads in the mayoral race and it’s striking to see a race like this finish so closely in a runoff.
Of course it is genuinely terrible that such a low number of people actually turned out to vote – something I find frustrating as a supporter of turning election day into a holiday because it was held on a Saturday, a time when many could have found the time to get to the polls and probably didn’t.
Now that the dust has settled, what will happen to the city? Well, according to King supporters, the sky will open up and destroy our great city. Winds will sweep across the bayous, bringing famine and destruction on an inconceivable level. Madness will run rampant through our streets, the city’s coffers will be pilfered, up will become down, dogs will befriend cats, Chicago-style pizza will be considered objectively better than New York-style.
I’m exaggerating a bit here – minus the pizza bit because Chicago-style pizza will always be bad and it genuinely would be outrageous to think otherwise – but there doesn’t appear to be too much optimism with what (like it nor now) the majority of voters have decided.
My reaction to both candidates has been one of ambivalence, but I certainly don’t believe we are in a “doomed” city as one voter so eloquently put. I also don’t think we’re headed for a golden age unlike any witnessed before. What I do know is there are incredibly difficult challenges ahead for the city, from its roads to its pension system which is making those dark clouds in the horizon even darker than usual – and it’s not because of our bad air quality this time.
King gets credit for asking his supporters to give their support to Turner and the future of the city and extolled some virtues of cooperation. This appears to be lost among voters who see things strictly as Good Candidate versus Bad Candidate, and it’s true for some of Turner’s supporters as well and how we somehow avoided narrowly falling off a cliff into a jagged, unending precipice.
Again, I can’t stress my ambivalence in this situation. This wasn’t exactly a fiery election cycle and it seemed that more people were engaged in the equal rights ordinance than they were for mayor, for understandable (if frustrating) reasons.
As we all bid farewell to the election season, I can’t say that Houston is a “doomed” city or is headed for disaster. I feel even less sure that the city is headed in a direction that will benefit all of us. What I can say with certainty is that, no, the sky is not falling because your candidate lost. No, the city isn’t going to descend into utter madness and end up looking like Detroit as it was depicted in Robocop. No, there is not a conspiracy to actively destroy this country without any clear endgame or purpose. And, no, Chicago-style pizza will never be better than New York-style.
I hope not, anyway.