Who do you trust on Public Safety?
The Annise Parker and Gene Locke campaigns released their initial runoff ads this week.
The ad comes with some controversy though. The Houston Police Officers' Union released a press-bulletin in which they claim the ad "is playing fast and loose with the truth."
Although it is not specifically stated in the press release, one may surmise they are talking about the following line: "Endorsed by Houston Police Officers 7 Times in a Row"
Gary Blankinship, president of the 5,000-plus member Houston Police Officers' Union, says, "The truth is, in past elections we did support her, however recently she lost our support and our trust. Houston police do not support Ms. Parker because she has no plan to support the police department or help officers fight crime in Houston."
To a voter not in tune with the election the four-second assertion in Parker's ad is misleading.
While the allegation that she does not "plan to support the police department" comes as a soft blow, it could have been a knockout punch if the HPOU delivered a straightforward message that made Annise Parker look like a weak candidate who was soft on crime.
Locke's "Safe" ad, like Parker's, concentrates on the public-safety theme. It is obviously an attack on Parker's leadership ability, which is the correct approach the Locke campaign should engage
The ad asks, "Will your neighborhood be safe? With Annise Parker for Mayor?" It then adds, "Houston Police Officers say Annise Parker is soft on crime."
Then, at about the ten-second mark, comes the dramatic statement that "Parker will 'take apart' the police department."
Now, if that does not scare the living daylights out of you nothing will.
In all actuality, to add context to the last claim: Parker indeed made that pledge...gasp...but one must read it in context to understand it.
The question was:
If you become mayor, when you become mayor, what would you do differently in any of the city departments in terms of structure or make-up, because obviously you will have to be thinking about that ahead. So if there is anything that you can think of now that says "This is an area of concern that I would have to address immediately"?
I would take apart the police department. I want a complete shake-up. I would like a new police chief. I want to rethink how we do policing in the City of Houston.
Locke's ad is well-produced and does a great job at targeting the core demographic that it was intended for.
The ad leaves a prospective voter questioning Parker's leadership abilities. Why does the Houston Police Officer's Union take such a strong stance against Parker? Why is it that after holding public office for over 10 years Parker has not developed the relationships to maintain the endorsement of HPOU?
Locke can argue effectively that he is obviously the right choice because Parker does not have the trust and support of the law enforcement community and he -- after a long stint in private life -- has come in, developed a relationship, and gained the support of law enforcement right under her nose.
Although Parker has obtained four other police union endorsements, it sends a bad message when the most prominent police union has not only failed to endorse her but they decide to question her credibility as a candidate.
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SHOW ME HOW
After reviewing both Locke and Parker's positions on public safety courtesy of their websites, there was only one stark difference ... Police Chief Harold Hurtt.
Parker has made it public that she is disappointed with his quality of service and a new chief will be appointed if she were elected. On the other side, Locke has remained silent on the issue. It also makes the decision a bit harder when one learns that Hurtt donated $1,000 to the Locke campaign in late May.
Although the candidates are nearly identical on the issue of public safety, the HPOU trusts Gene Locke. The question comes down to: Who do you trust?