Dec. 2,1983 / Montrose Voice 7
Van Hightower Carries Montrose but Hall Wins City Hall
By Hollis Hood
Anthony Hall defeated Nikki Van Hightower in the Nov. 29 runoff for Houston
City Council At-Large Position 4, and Gay
Political Caucus president Larry Bagneris
claimed it was a setback for gay rights—
but not an unworkable situation.
Although Montrose went about 68 percent behind Van Hightower, Hall supporters say there was evidence of a
splintering of the GPC bloc vote. GPC had
endorsed Van Hightower.
Van Hightower's support was reflected
in the affulent and mid-income white vote
and in Mexican-American balloting
where she outpolled Hall 59.54 percent to
40.46 percent citywide. But she was no
match for the low and mid-income black
vote where where she got only about 3 percent citywide.
Overall election results showed Hall
with 67 percent of the total vote to Van
Hightower's 33 percent.
"This is not a defeat for the cause of gay
rights," said Bagneris, "it just means it
will take longer." He noted that activist
Van Hightower would have pushed for a
non-discriminatory employment ordinance, while Hall's position on the issue is
that gays are protected, with other minorities, in an employment-related mayor's
"We have to make sure, then, that each
new mayor approves that executive order,
instead of having our rights guaranteed
through an ordinance," BagneriB said.
Fair employment is only one of many
items that GPC addresses through its concerted political activities. Documentation
must begin, he said, showing proof that
discriminatory hiring and employment
practices do exist, as well as investigation
of other areas of alledged discrimination.
'That way, when the time comes, we can
prove there is a need for an ordinance," he
Hall solicited the gay vote and had been
supportive of the gay community's rights
in the past. He campaigned vigorously in
Montrose, visiting gay clubs and touring
with Mayor Kathy Whitmire in the waning days before the early November election.
However, the GPC endorsed Van Hightower by a two to one margin, which hurt
his chances of gaining major support from
the gay community.
Jerry Mayes of GPC said that Hall/Van
Hightower backing in the runoff compared to the Nov. 2 balloting changed considerably, indicating a definite split in the
GPC bloc vote, as well as fewer voters. Not
only was the overall voter turnout greatly
reduced, the percent of that turnout returning to cast ballots for Van Hightower citywide was lessened.
For example, if Van Hightower had 233
votes in a precinct on Nov. 2, only 115
returned to vote for her on Nov. 29. Hall,
however, may have gained only 100 votes
on Nov. 2, but all 100 returned to vote for
him on Nov. 29; thus, the radical changes
in percentages from the Nov. 29 balloting
which reflected each candidate receiving
about one-third of the votes.
Hall becomes the second black to be
elected to an at-large city council position
and brings black representation to one-
fourth of the members on city council. He
gave up his seat for District D (now filled
by Rodney Ellis) to run for the citywide
He told an extremely packed headquarters Tuesday night that the election
results prove "that even a young fellow
from Sunnyside can achieve citywide
office," thus attaining his goal of being
given an opportunity to exercise more
leadership on issues of citywide importance, such as crime and transporation.
"I'm glad that Hall was elected," said
one gay Hall supporter, "because I believe
he is better qualified because of his experience on City Council and in the legislature. I feel he will be in a better position to
work harmoniously with the mayor and
City Council and work more productively
with them than Van Hightower would
have. He will be just as accessible as she
would be; he haB always been."
This representative noted that Van
Hightower had no particular interest in
the gay community before running for
office, and became responsive to them as a
result of gaining the GPC endorsement.
"Hall over the years has shown sup-
Anthony Hall at his election central headquarters Tuesday night with
I in Nov.
Van kXigiytower confer* with a supporter prior to acknowledging c
, 29 aUarv election
" '.-. -'.', '. ' ' '■ , . ;• ■ ; ■/:■ ■■'.:.
port," he said.
Van Hightower's headquarters were a
much quieter scene, as the candidate made
a thank you speech and promised continued support of the causes to which she
has been dedicated for several years.
The most gratifying aspect of her work
as director of the Houston Area Women's
Center is watching people come from
oftentimes very depressing situations to
blossom and grow, and the campaign was
an extension of that process, she said.
"Win or lose, my commitment to work to
make Houston a better place to live, a
safer, freer place to be all we can be, won't
change," Hightower said.
After the election results indicated her
defeat, she telephoned Anthony Hall voicing her support of the councilman.
In Hall's speech, he said they would be
meeting soon to discuss ways to address
needs that Van Hightower saw as unmet
A Van Hightower representative quoted
her as saying (at the Copa, a gay club,
later that evening), "This sure doesn't feel
like losing," and that many issues that
needed to be in forefront had been brought
out through the campaign.
"She will be allies with the gay
community—politics or not," the Van
Hightower supporter said, "and she will
continue to be a prominent community
activist in a prominent activist community."
However, she could not comment on
whether or not Van Hightower would run
Lee Harrington, gay community leader,
said "I agreed with Lance Lalor on the
GPC tour when he introduced Nikki at
each stop saying, 'We have the chance to
elect to Houston's City Council the best
You're Reading the
One of America's Major
Gay Community Newspapers
person we ever had for gay rights.' If it had
been left to the gays, we would have. I was
proud of the bloc vote again—it always
sends the clearest messages, even to
friendly politicians, that lots of voters
"I congratulated Anthony and only
asked that he be as sensitive as he possibly can be to our issues during the next two
years. I am sure he will be," Harrington