Of the current 15 members of Houston City Council, including Mayor Annise Parker, none arouses the intense passions that Jolanda Jones has stirred in her two terms.
The defense attorney and former track star campaigned for office on the promise to serve as “the voice of the voiceless” at City Hall. Over the past four years she has more than fulfilled that commitment, winning a devoted following in the low-income communities of Houston while irritating and sometimes enraging critics and colleagues. She has rough edges, and certainly does not represent business as usual.
The Chronicle believes that on balance, Jones has served a valuable function on a City Council that has historically played a subservient role in Houston’s strong-mayor form of government. She speaks out frequently, questioning administration proposals and demanding more information. That lengthens council meeting times and often delays action, but it also provides additional scrutiny and the impetus to improve legislation.
In the current campaign, many of Jones’ critics are backing Laurie Robinson, an accomplished financial consultant specializing in health care and the public sector who has done audits for the city. She is a promising prospective council member; we hope she runs again for public office, whether for this position or another.
After carefully examining the facts, the Chronicle endorses Jones for re-election and urges voters to return her to City Hall for a final term.
Well, they didn’t endorse Robinson but they had nice things to say about her, so I wasn’t too far off the mark. I completely agree with their assessment of the role CM Jones plays on Council, and I admire her for it. The question is whether there are more people now than before who think that her baggage outweighs that. I’ll be very interested to compare 2011 results with those from 2009. In any event, my interview with CM Jones is here, my interview with Robinson is here, and my interview with Jack Christie is here.