The race for Houston’s next mayor has officially been under way since Wednesday, and incumbent Bill White will likely remain at the forefront until the end, marking his third and final term as mayor.
The competition certainly appears colorful; by Thursday only Amanda C. Ulman, a member of the Socialist Workers Party, and perennial mayoral candidate Outlaw Josey Wales IV have filed to run against White.
In light of these challengers, White runs virtually unopposed, perhaps as a result of Houstonian satisfaction in his term or apathy among political opponents.
But the focus shouldn’t just be on the mayor’s election. City Controller Annise Parker, along with various council members, will run unopposed come November. But unfortunately the problem of low voter turnout plagues most U.S. cities. If the numbers in Austin’s mayoral race are any indication of what’s to come, abysmal results should be expected. Only 11 percent of the voter population turned up at the polls, according to an August 2007 report on citizen participation given to the Austin City Council.
It might not be a presidential or a gubernatorial race, but local politics still make a difference. Political participation is important, and White’s bid for the position virtually marks a one-party rule, not unlike our own Student Government Association’s last election where dominant party UH4U obliterated nearly all outside opposition.
Situations like these can arise for a number of reasons, but every time they occur they remind the public that democracy requires significant input, from politicians and constituents alike.