Houston Mayors

Courtesy of Wikipedia, here’s the complete list of Houston’s mayors since the start of things in 1836. The first mayor was James F. Holman, but he didn’t take office until 1837, when the wheels of local government finally got started.

Term Mayor
2010— Annise Parker
2004–2010 Bill White
1998–2004 Lee Brown
1992–1998 Bob Lanier
1982–1991 Kathy Whitmire
1978–1981 Jim McConn
1974–1977 Fred Hofheinz
1964–1973 Louie Welch
1958–1963 Lewis Cutrer
1956–1957 Oscar F. Holcombe
1953–1955 Roy Hofheinz
1947–1952 Oscar F. Holcombe
1943–1946 Otis Massey
1941–1942 Neal Pickett
1939–1941 Oscar F. Holcombe
1937–1938 R. H. Fonville
1933–1936 Oscar F. Holcombe
1929–1933 Walter E. Monteith
1921–1929 Oscar F. Holcombe
1918–1921 A. Earl Amerman
1917–1918 Joseph Chappell Hutcheson, Jr.
1917 J. J. Pastoriza (died in office)
1913–1917 Ben Campbell
1905–1913 H. Baldwin Rice
1904–1905 Andrew L. Jackson
1902–1904 O. T. Holt
1901–1902 John D. Woolford
1898–1901 Samuel H. Brashear
1896–1898 H. Baldwin Rice
1892–1896 John T. Browne
1890–1892 Henry Scherffius
1886–1890 Daniel C. Smith
1880–1886 William R. Baker
1879–1880 Andrew J. Burke
1877–1878 James T. D. Wilson
1875–1876 I. C. Lord
1874 James T. D. Wilson
1870–1873 Thomas H. Scanlan
1868–1870 Joseph R. Morris
1867–1868 Alexander McGowan
1866 Horace D. Taylor
1863–1865 William Anders
1862 Thomas W. House
1861 William J. Hutchins
1860 Thomas W. Whitmarsh
1859 William King
1858 Alexander McGowan
1856–1857 Cornelius Ennis
1855–1856 James H. Stevens
1853–1854 Nathan Fuller
1849–1852 Francis W. Moore, Jr.
1847–1848 B. P. Buckner
1846 James Bailey
1845 W. W. Swain
1844 Horace Baldwin
1843 Francis W. Moore, Jr.
1841–1842 Colonel J.D. Andrews
1840 Charles Bigelow
1839 George W. Lively
1838–1839 Francis W. Moore, Jr.
1837 James S. Holman

On the morning of December 17, 2011, there five living former mayors:

Bob Lanier (86)

Lee Brown (74)

Fred Hofheinz (73)

Kathy Whitmire (65)

and Bill White (57)

As a kid, I remember thinking that Oscar Holcombe was “supposed” to be mayor because it seemed as though he had been there all my life. Holcombe served more years in office as a Houston mayor than any other person in history and we was there for most of the early post WWII years when my generation was starting school and new to paying attention to such things.

My personal memories of each mayor are hardly the stuff of a political debater or historian. We moved to Houston on my 5th birthday, which also happened to be the last day of office for Neal Pickett (1941-42) so I had no memory of him until I later started exploring different aspects of local history. I still couldn’t tell you this morning of anything he ever did. Otis Massey (1943-46) is a similar blind spot.

My first memory of Oscar  Holcombe (1947-52) was that I shared his “Oscar” first name as my middle name. The next thing I recall is that I had trouble reading or pronouncing his name. “His name is not ‘Homisquab’,” Mom would correct me, “it’s Holcombe!” Then there were my dad’s constant pronouncements of Oscar: “Every time the city does something, Mayor Holcombe just gets richer.” Sometimes we took Sunday drives from the East End to just look at the houses people owned in River Oaks. And Dad would say: “Well, we are now surrounded by the friends of Oscar Holcombe.”

In my memory. Oscar Holcombe (1947-52, 57-57) was money and power; Roy Hofheinz (1945-46)was ambition and explosive constant bickering with City Council; Lewis Cutrer (1958-63) was ribbon-cutting and finally getting major league baseball in Houston; Louie Welch (1964-73) was “good old boy” prejudicial toward anyone who didn’t look like or think like himself, the perfect foil for the kinds of social changes we experienced in the 1960s and 70s; Welch got into trouble for referring to gays as “queers.”

Fred Hofheinz (1974-77), the son of Roy, got here in time to deal with the new federal revenue sharing program. When he asked for suggestions on what we might call our local program to that identity end, I offered, “How about ‘Preparation H?’ ” and never heard back from him.

Jim McConn (1978-81) just blurred by as a temporary return to good ole boys, golf, and real estate deals. Aside from simply knowing that he was one of our elite St. Thomas HS alums (not in my class, any way you want to take that statement), I had nothing to do with the man and no regard for the guy. In fact, like most Houston mayors, I never met him.

Kathy Whitmire (1982-91) will always be Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie.” Kathy proved that Houston was capable of reaching out to a level of gender equality that sure never came to light in the long reign of the good ole boys. Kathy PO’d plenty of locals, but she cared about the broader image of Houston as an international city and not merely one as an overgrown cowboy town. To a large extent, Whitmire was mayor during the great infusion of new Asian citizens and the start of the even larger Hispanic migration to Houston.

Bob Lanier (1992-98) did all he could to put Houston on a business like basis. He was mayor when that business style cost the city the Oilers when Lanier did not bend to the will of Bud Adams, but then Lanier turned around and helped the Astros negotiate a new downtown ballpark for the Astros. I’m short on details here, but that’s how I remember it.

Lee Brown (1998-2004) was a revivalist for bureaucracy and poor control of local spending. Luxury travel for the mayor and others to exotic faraway places in the name of spreading Houston’s good will to the whole world ran into megabuck debts to the city treasury and spoon-fed those groups in the community who already feel entitled to support.

Bill White (2004-10) did a great job returning the city to a more stable business-like approach to government and he presided over Houston’s humanitarian efforts in the wake of hurricane damage to Louisiana and Texas in the middle to later part of his administrative decade.

Annise Parker (2010-11 and counting) became another landmark officeholder as the first openly homosexual Houston mayor and, from what I can see, she handles the job without her personal condition or preferences getting in the way of her responsibility to all the people as the city’s chief executive. Many people don’t like what they see as her “too liberal” social agenda, but these are people who were pretty much prepared to dislike whatever she did anyway because of who she is and what she stands for on the social agenda plane. I say give her a chance and let’s see what she actually does.

My thoughts about the mayor’s office today are pretty much a local version of how I see the presidency today. Why would any qualified person in their right mind want either of these jobs today? Aren’t there easier, far less accountable ways to achieve power and wealth in 2012?



One Response to “Houston Mayors”

  1. David Munger Says:

    Amen, Bill…..GEAUX TIGERS…..

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