An electrician best known for mailing homophobic fliers to thousands of Houston voters attacking the city’s lesbian mayor narrowly won an election to the Houston Community College Board of Trustees after he misled voters into believing that he is African American. Dave Wilson defeated longtime incumbent Bruce Austin, who actually is black, in an overwhelmingly African American district.
Wilson’s campaign fliers were filled with black faces that he admits to simply pulling off of websites, along with captions such as “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.” Another flier announces that he was “Endorsed by Ron Wilson,” which is the name of an African American former state representative. Only by reading the fine print will voters discover that the “Ron Wilson” who actually endorsed Dave is his cousin. The cousin lives in Iowa.
In an interview with a local TV station, the anti-gay activist turned higher education policymaker did not deny that he intended to mislead the electorate, instead justifying his actions by claiming that “[e]very time a politician talks, he’s out there deceiving voters.”
It’s worth noting that Wilson was likely able to get within striking range of a 24-year incumbent member of the board due to a wave of scandals involving insider dealing by board members. Nevertheless, he defeated the incumbent Austin by just 26 votes, so it is likely that Wilson’s deceptive campaign tactics helped push him over the edge to victory.
The Houston Community College Board of Trustees governs the college and has the power to approve the school’s “educational program.” Previously, Wilson unsuccessfully tried to scuttle the campaign of victorious Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker by mailing a flier to 35,000 voters featuring a picture of Parker standing by her same-sex partner and the caption “IS THIS THE IMAGE HOUSTON WANTS TO PORTRAY?”
Wilson told a local news station that he opposed Parker because “[t]he openly gay lifestyle leads to extinction.”