Mayor Parker Gives Audience A Snapshot of Daily, Vital Duties
Mayor Annise Parker packed the room for the first of the Fall Bauer College Alumni Association’s Alumni Networking Breakfasts, offering insights on everything from leadership in the Internet Age to career advice for students.
Houston’s mayor engaged the audience with a short introduction about her busy days followed by a stream of questions from the audience of UH alumni and students.
The recent battles over the city’s role in financing street development near a Wal-Mart store planned in the Heights led to thoughts on how the Internet can magnify the voice of the opposition. Parker said many of those criticizing the project on the Internet live elsewhere and have other issues with the retail giant. To prove that to the council member serving the district, there were two community meetings on the issue and Parker went door to door to ask those living nearby about it.
“It showed that just because your in-box is flooded with anti Wal-Mart screeds, you don’t necessarily know what’s going on the ground.”
Job creation was a theme. Parker said her ability to create jobs is limited, but can fight job losses. She has worked with the Congressional delegation to oppose budget cuts at NASA that could eliminate 7,000 jobs, and to ensure the moratorium on offshore drilling doesn’t drag on. Parker said she knows Michael Bromwich, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy who will play a key role in deciding when deep-water oil exploration can resume.
“He will do a great job regulating the offshore industry. But we need him to do it faster.”
The pending merger between Continental and United kept the airline industry top of mind with the mayor. She allayed fears of Houston losing jobs to United’s home base of Chicago by detailing how much money the new airline would save. By keeping major operations here, many jobs would not need to transfer out nor be cut. “Our city comes out ahead and is more attractive because it is less expensive — Continental understands this.”
Over the long haul Parker, proud Rice University alum, said she will do what she can to support the University of Houston; whether it’s helping recruit top researchers or raise money for a new stadium. The city’s future depends on it.
“We want you to achieve Tier One status because it helps bring businesses to Houston… I’m excited about your new Energy Park. We’re the oil and gas capital of the world. Renewable energy is the future and the University of Houston is doing its part with cutting edge research.”
The answers also took a personal turn. Parker spoke about how a mentor early in her career played a pivotal role in her life. Her answer to a question about women rising to top leadership roles, led to her thoughts on the importance of finding what you love to do.
“People should bring passion to their jobs. I enjoyed working for (18 years) at Mosbacher Energy but I did it to go home at night and work in my community organization. You should settle into a job but don’t settle.”
The monthly networking breakfasts, which feature inspiring and engaging speakers, are presented by James E. Bashaw & Company and held at the Houston City Club.