Friday, October 26, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 47


Former welfare mom deserves votes

Peter Sullivan 

The coming local election is probably not the most important event on your calendar. We all know Lee Brown will win and light rail will be mired in lawsuits for another 10 years regardless of voter opinions. As usual, the most widely advertised candidates will probably be elected.

Thankfully, Barbara Ashley is more optimistic. To combat the insensitivity of City Hall, she is running for City Council At-Large Position 4.

Ashley is about as real as candidates come. Her grassroots campaign is heavy on idealism, but light on cash. Her campaign can be heard, not from a television advertisement or
an obnoxious freeway sign, but by word of mouth.

Barbara Ashley's main objective is to "improve the quality of life for all Houstonians." Admittedly, this goal initially sounds implausible. But Ashley's life story makes you believe in
the miraculous.

Ashley, you see, has had an incredibly tough path to her current position as an attorney and city council hopeful. When she was 11 years old she saw her father pump five rounds
into her mother, then kill himself. In foster care, Ashley suffered years of physical and sexual abuse. At age 17, she married and had two children.

Though she was gainfully employed for many long periods, she had to constantly fend off familial and financial problems. Her lowest moment came about 10 years ago when she
found herself thrice divorced, unemployed and with hungry children at her feet.

Being down and out for much of her life, Ashley saw the impact lawyers had on people in need. She realized she could do a better job than any lawyer had done for her.

With the help of social workers, Ashley succeeded at Texas State University and went on to graduate from law school in 1999. Now Ashley gives free and discounted legal
assistance to low-income people and is committed to changing her city.

Running for City Council is the next step in Ashley's long path of service. She believes her legal experience and her status as a former welfare mother will bring a "good balance
to city council." 

In her campaign, she has exhibited a kind of virtuosity that is all too rare from politicians. While other candidates were holding suit and tie galas, Ashley was out on the street
talking to everyday people about the changes they wanted to see in city government.

Unlike some of her opponents, Ashley has adamantly refused to buy endorsements from non-profit organizations.

Her platform has a decidedly progressive sway. She promises to strengthen after-school programs, actively promote a cleaner environment, improve city planning and require
fiscal accountability from city government.

Unlike her opponent Michael Berry, Ashley is opposed to Proposition 2, the measure which would outlaw benefits for city employed same-sex couples of Houston. She is also in
favor of light rail and wants to expand bus service.

If you're voting on Nov. 6, I recommend you check the box labeled "Ashley." It just may enable city council to become a more truly representative place.

Sullivan, a senior history major
, can be reached at

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