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Montrose Voice, No. 95, August 20, 1982
File 016
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Montrose Voice, No. 95, August 20, 1982 - File 016. 1982-08-20. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. July 11, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2979/show/2965.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(1982-08-20). Montrose Voice, No. 95, August 20, 1982 - File 016. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2979/show/2965

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Montrose Voice, No. 95, August 20, 1982 - File 016, 1982-08-20, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed July 11, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2979/show/2965.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Montrose Voice, No. 95, August 20, 1982
Contributor
  • McClurg, Henry
Publisher Community Publishing Company
Date August 20, 1982
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 22329406
Collection
  • University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
  • LGBT Research Collection
  • Montrose Voice
Rights In Copyright
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 016
Transcript August 20,1982 / Montrose voice 15 Behind the Big Glasses and Cute Bow Tie: Kathy Whitmire Speaks to the Voice Photostory by Ed Martinez Early in 1982, a petite woman in her 30s overcame formidable political opposition in the person of the Sheriff of Harris County, Jack Heard, to become the Mayor of Houston. The first woman to hold that position, Kathyrn J. Whitmire to one an all, had two terms as City Controller under her belt before tackling the establishment to wrest the top city job away from the pols and pros who were convinced they could hang her out to dry in a contest between Heard, the good old boy, and Kathy, the nice young lady. The good old boys were dead wrong, and they were the ones left with egg on their faces as Kathy Whitmire swept to a convincing win. This was not accomplished without considerable blood on the precinct floor, however, as Whitmire's opponents worked diligently to make political hay over Whitmire's endorsement by Houston Gay Political Caucus. Whitmire sought and received the support of the gays of Houston, and Heard's supporters felt he had a cross on which to crucify Ms. Whitmire. Wrong again. A last minute attempt by a supporter of Jack Heard blew up rudely in the faceB of those trying to portray Whitmire as a future militant gay libber, and the forces using the smear tactics went down to thunderous defeat. Ms. Whitmire then proceeded to Btep adroitly into the political quagmire of problems facing Houston by doing the unthinkable: she appointed a police chief who was a) black, and b) from Atlanta. She then had the audacity to get his appointment approved by the City Council in an 11 to 3 vote. Then she wooed the man who had built Atlanta's subway-transit system away from that city in an effort at solving Houston's monumental transit mess. Then, as if all that were not enough, she took on the police and fire departments in an open battle to free top administrative jobs from the stagnant clutches of civil service to make those departments more responsive to wishes of the fire and police chiefs. Not only that, she won those battles handily, by means of sheer political clout and clever negotiations with the organizations representing the firemen and policemen who realized that they had been nut maneuvered. Not really Wonder Woman, just a smart young lady who does her homework thoroughly and never fails to give credit to those around her, Kathy Whitmire is probably one of the shrewdest politicians in Texas, and that puts her in the same league with John Connally and a host of other slick politicians. She met us in her capacious office and answered questions candidly and thoughtfully. Are you enjoying being mayor as much as you thought you would? Oh yes, I really am. I feel very good about it, for three reasons: one, I have a very good staff, which has been a tremendous help to me. Tw#, the City Council has been very cooperative, and three, because of both those things we've been able to get some things accomplished. We've been able to set some goals such as getting our budget approved on time, getting the fiscal year changed, bringing in a new police chief, getting Borne changes in civil service... I'm really enjoying that. What do you think the biggest problem facing Houaton is right now? It's hard to pinpoint one thing, but the Mayor Whitmire item that comes to the top of the list for most Houstonians is the mobility problem, the difficulty that people have in getting where they're going ... as big as this city is and as much territory as it covers and as far behind as we've gotten in public transportation and in our public thoroughfare system, I would have to classify mobility as our number one problem that provides that daily irritant to people in Houston. This is not to minimize the crime problem that we're addressing through the police department. Is it possible that with the cutoff in federal funds, the sheer size ofthe city and the influx of people in spite of the recession, mobility may be one of those problems that have become chronic, that Houston may just slow down, or do you feel that it is soluble? Well, all those things come in degrees. You can't eliminate traffic in any big city but you have to find ways to make it more workable and more tolerable to keep it from getting worse. That is our more immediate goal, to keep traffic from getting worse that it already is. We think that a first step in that direction is to have a substantially increased bus system and that has been the first goal of Alan Kiepper since he's been in Houston. That's just one step. We're still looking at more advanced means—rail transportation that we believe that we can develop as a feasible alternative in Houston. At the same time, the city is presenting a united effort to the state highway commission to encourage the development of more freeways in the city of Houston. You're our mayor, and a lot of people wonder: what's the lady behind the big glasses and the bow tie really'like?Howdo you spend your private time, or do you have any time left over for a personal life? I think that's the key to it. A job like being mayor is a very demanding job and I do spend a great amount of time on it; 75 or 80 hours a week are dedicated to my responsibilities as mayor of the city so that doesn 't leave a whole lot of time for a private life and personal activities. But I am a very private person and do tend to keep my private life to myself. Has living in Montrose helped you understand the problems that gays face? I would say that that's probably true. Certainly I know a lot of people who are gay, and because of that personal association, any time you develop personal associations with people who have different lifestyles, different backgrounds, different economic positions, you become more familiar with their problems, and more sensitive to the difficulties they face. Now or in the future, at any time in your tenure of office as mayor, would you support an ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual preference in the area of jobs, housing, or credit—a gay rights ordinance? I think we've seen some ordinances that cover some of those areas passed by other cities, and I certainly believe in that philosophy, that we should not tolerate discrimination against people because of their background or lifestyle or whatever. I believe that all people should be considered as individuals in employment and in all phases of their Uves. The question becomes one of what should the city's role be, to what extent does the city have the authority to involve itself in various transactions that occur, whether they have to do with housing and employment or credit and what role should a city government play. It's not an issue that I am sure about at this time. It would depend on the attitudes of the city council and the legal authority that the city has. // the issue arose, if an ordinance were introduced by one of the city councilmen, would you support it? I think it would depend on the specific way that it was written. I would not want to tell you in advance that I would support an ordinance that might be projected by a council member, because I don't know how that ordinance would be framed, what kind of enforcement it would have, what it might cost to enforce it, whether it would be legally enforceable and all those kinds of questions. I will tell you that in concept I certainly support equal opportunity for people without regard to their lifestyle. Your opponent nailed you, or tired to, in the last election, over your endorsement by the Houston Gay Political Caucus. Would you seek the support of the Gay Political Caucus in another bid for mayor? Certainly, I always seek the support of all the groups in the city. One thing I was going to tell you is that you were talking about my opponent nailing me about the GPC support. I saw a poll recently that was done after the election, where they tried to analyze why it turned out the way it did. Eighty-seven per cent of the people who voted in the election were aware of my support from the Gay Political Caucus, but the overwhelming majority of them said that it made no difference one way or the other. I think that is very interesting, that it made no difference one way or the other. I think it is very interesting, that it did become a very high profile issue, and everyone was aware of it, but the majority of Houstonians did not consider that a significant factor one way or the other. Is there anything you would like to say to the people of Montrose? I think that we have a lot of potential in this city, and the thing that I want to say is that we can make Houston the kind of place that we want to live from the standpoint of addressing our problems with mobility and crime and park Bpace and improvements in the streets and all ofthe issues that need to be addressed if we get citizens involved. I think that the active civic organizations that have been formed in the inner city have certainly been making the differ ence towards the upgrading of our city and I believe that's really the strength of the city, the people that take the time to get involved. The thing that strikes a person listening to Mayor Whitmire is that she is, for all her savvy and intensity that is evident in her manner, not that most damning of adjectives, strident. She has the ability, almost unique among top women executives, to remain quintessentially feminine. The office of mayor has failed to harden or make coarse someone who is, obviously, very much a lady.
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