Former welfare mom deserves
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
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
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
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.