Split Ticket

District C's ex file: Then it got personal…

As the councilman is learning the hard way, when you go toe-to-toe with an ex, it can get expensive.

Off to the Races

At Large and Mysterious

Seats being vacated by mayoral candidates Orlando Sanchez and Chris Bell are crowded with contenders, but money and endorsements narrow the field.

In Position 3, George Biggs, an aide to councilman Rob Todd with interests in several nightspots downtown, has the money -- not the respect. "A bar owner for council?" scoffs the director of a major political action committee. "I don't think so." Biggs is the son of big-bucks society plastic surgeon Tom Biggs, and also gets credit for teaching boss Todd how to boogie.

The smart money is spread among Shelley Sekula Rodriguez, widow of KHOU/Channel 11 anchor Sylvan Rodriguez, Democratic attorney Marc Whitehead and Andrew Burks Jr., the only African-American in the race. Burks came close to beating Sanchez before and could benefit from a spirited contest in heavily African-American District D, plus Mayor Brown's multimillion-dollar effort to turn out the vote.

In Position 4, realtor Michael Berry has blanketed the town to the point of overkill with posters and billboards. Berry is less than forthcoming about his stance on issues, refusing to tell Democrats how he stands on abortion, and pulling a similar fade with gays about same-sex job benefits. Berry's apparent strategy is to overwhelm the opposition by sheer force of cardboard.

Businesswoman Claudia Williamson is lighter on campaign cash but has picked up most inner-city endorsements, including the Harris County Democrats.

If Berry doesn't win outright, look for a runoff where positions will be harder to conceal behind signs.

A Is for Acrimony

In northwest Houston's District A, incumbent Bruce Tatro and Republican activist Toni Lawrence are rematched. While Tatro has more than his share of enemies in the conservative Spring Branch neighborhoods, his downtown support remains solid. Look for a narrow Tatro win.

B Is for Bungling

Incumbent Carol Galloway ought to be cruising in this north Houston district, which put up for three terms with the likes of Michael Yarbrough, arguably the sleaziest local public official since Ben Reyes moved to an out-of-state jail. Yet somehow she finds herself in a race with two lively opponents, civic activist Cleo Glenn-Johnson and businessman Kurtyce Cole. Glenn-Johnson even snagged a Houston Chronicle endorsement, inexplicably bylined by the candidate herself on the Web version of the paper. Since Galloway is closely allied with Mayor Brown, she'll probably ride his campaign to a narrow victory, but not without a serious wake-up call.

Down and Dirty in D

Of the major contenders here, only community activist Ada Edwards has a squeaky-clean résumé. Realtor and former congressional staffer Gerald Womack lost his real estate license in the early '80s for unprofessional dealings (see The Insider, August 9); attorney and lobbyist Darryl Carter pleaded guilty to check forgery in the same time period (see The Insider, September 6); and Houston Community College trustee Chris Oliver recently made headlines for calling a college instructor a "bitch" when she asked him to stop exercising at a school gymnasium because it was interfering with her class.

Look for Womack, backed by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, to make a runoff against either Carter or Edwards.

E Is for Everybody but Rob

With term-limited incumbent Rob Todd looking to run for Commissioners Court, a flock of six candidates is vying to replace him. The early favorite is Todd's former staffer Adelaide "Addie" Wiseman, who wised up to Todd and left the office before his cell phone high jinks hit the fan (see The Insider, December 7, 2000). Wiseman has the endorsement of the Chronicle and the early support of several downtown political action committees. She operates a landscaping business but has another talent -- stand-up comedian -- which could be a major public asset on the new council. Look for Wiseman in a runoff, possibly against broadcast consultant Bill Jones or Asian-American real estate broker Jan Lang Kish.

Off the Hook in G

Bert Keller's first term in office was anything but boring. A drunken night at a topless bar led to a collision with a parked truck, capped by his fleeing to sober up in a nearby apartment. Then he ran afoul of County Court Judge Janice Law for failing to stick with the public service schedule mandated by his guilty plea. And Keller's wife, Susan, took up with council colleague Rob Todd for a fling, giving Bert the dubious title of Cuckolded Councilman. Still, Keller faces no well-funded opposition for re-election, leading one to wonder what it takes to get fired by the voters. The Chronicle endorsement went to Anthony Osso. See this week's News Hostage for Osso's unique bar connections.

Keller aide Mike Howard explains that the councilman has continued to perform his job through his personal travails, while Todd's affair with Mrs. Keller has only provoked sympathy for Bert among the good Republican women of G.

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