Residents of Montrose are preparing to vote for mayor in the first free and open elections in a generation. The neighborhood had been under the boot heel of former Mayor for Life Chris Hutto’s autocratic regime since declaring independence in 2007.
In the months since Hutto abdicated in January, Montrose has faced increasing sectarianism, economic uncertainty and border insecurity. The ongoing turmoil has invigorated a slew of mayoral candidates, each seeming to represent one or more of the enclave’s various factions.
Comedian Slim Bloodworth has marshalled her power base at Rudyard’s and has made a play for the Pacific Street Gay Reservation, the home turf of fellow candidate Ms. Mykie Dacus. Although Bloodworth has yet to issue a fully formed campaign platform, she has capitalized on her notoriety to become one of Montrose’s most talked about candidates.
Despite the visibility of Bloodworth’s support, her constituency has been primarily limited to Waugh Drive, J.R.’s and a handful of other locations. This lack of outreach to other bars, notably ones that attract an under 40 crowd, might damage Bloodworth’s chances — particularly since Mariana Lemesoff has mobilized the youth of Avant Garden into a potent voting bloc.
Lemesoff’s desire to use the strength of the mayor’s office to create a Montrose chamber of commerce, with the ultimate goal of returning street festivals to the area, has resonated with both recent immigrants and long-time residents. Surprisingly, allegations of occult involvement have only benefitted Lemesoff’s candidacy.
Lemesoff is not alone in her plans to utilize the office of the mayor to address some of the larger issues facing residents and business owners of Montrose. Jason Ginsburg stated that, if elected, he wants to tackle the neighborhood’s affordable housing crisis. He has yet to articulate a plan to untangle that decades-old Gordian Knot.
Ginsburg’s desire to preserve the flavor and unique nature of Montrose is echoed by all of the other candidates, especially Dacus who wants gay bars and culture to be visible on Westheimer again.
Whether or not gay bookstores and leather bars can come back to “the curve” in the age of Amazon, Tinder, Grindr and FetLife remains to be seen. Dacus, who is heavily involved in Houston’s drag community, also wants to use the mayor’s office to help spread and preserve gay culture to a wider population.
Although all four candidates have expressed an eagerness to improve or preserve some aspect of Montrose, the mayor’s race — like almost all campaigns — will come down to the simple questions of enthusiasm and who has a better turn out the vote operation.