The end of a political dynasty in a small town in Texas

Because he could get lost in all of the election news this election year, I want to make sure we all know about the recent end of one of the most enduring family political dynasties in Texas – if not the country.

On November 16, Rebecca Kennelly Haas was sworn in as the new mayor of Richmond, a Fort Bend County town of about 12,000 people located just southwest of Houston. Not much news on who won the Nov. 3 election there.

Lots of news on who lost this election.

Haas beat Evalyn Moore, who had held the job since 2012. OK, you say, why should I care? Well, because Evalyn Moore has replaced her late husband, Hilmar Moore.

Yeah, so what?

So this: Hilmar Moore, 92 at the time of his disappearance, had been mayor of Richmond for 63 years. And so that means that November 16 of this year was the first day in Richmond since September 21, 1949 that there was no Mayor Moore in office.

Now, by dint of a 1420-1334 margin, the good people of Richmond are learning to live without Mayor Moore for the first time in some time.

Why? What happened? Why is a city turning away from a family it seemed happy to have led for seven decades?

Former Mayor Evalyn Moore, 76, has a few theories, one related to the pandemic and one personal. She told the Houston Chronicle that postponing the election until November from its usual spring date due to the pandemic had drawn in a lot more voters, with the presidential race and all. Indeed, in 2017, she was re-elected with a margin of 474-207. In 2014, it was a 547-456 victory.

And, she said, she suffered from something most political candidates see as a plus: name recognition.

“I understand a lot of people were tired of Moore,” she told the Houston newspaper. “They were tired of the Moores. So they saw my name and voted against me.

I would like to point out a series of “More Moores” road signs in the greater Richmond area, but I am not sure if this is true.

When Hilmar Moore died in 2012, I remembered that he had won 32 local elections and was widely acclaimed as the longest serving public official in the United States. Shortly before his death, Moore was interviewed by the BBC. He had become mayor of Richmond three years before Elizabeth became Queen of England (not an elected post).

His obituary stated that he “was outspoken and outspoken, leaving no one in doubt as to his position on just about anything.”

In 1979, while chairman of the Texas Board of Human Resources, he left no one in doubt about his position in relation to welfare recipients.

“I’ve always thought that when you can’t support yourself or your family, you give up certain rights,” Moore told reporters. “One of them is to bring more children. … I think it’s a right that you give up and if you don’t want to give it up, find a job and get out of welfare.

Later, instead of backing down, he backed him up with this, “If I was fully responsible, I would tell welfare clients that they should practice birth control. If they had another child, I would favor mandatory sterilization.

Still later, he said it was just a concept, which he knew could never become law.

“I can see where that would cause a uproar,” he said of the outrage that followed his comment. “Anything that is constructive leads to failure. “

Yes, Hilmar Moore was not everyone’s cup of tea. But he was with the people of his hometown in the 32 consecutive elections he won after being appointed mayor in September 1949 to fill a vacant post. Oh, and his father, John H. Moore Jr., had served as mayor of Richmond for two terms.

Evalyn Moore (Hilmar’s second wife; his first, Hallie, is deceased) was chosen by Richmond City Council to replace him upon his death. At her last meeting as mayor, Evalyn Moore was presented with a key to the city and a beautiful statement saying that her “passion for Richmond and her loyalty to the residents of this great city that she loves has had it. kept focused on the vision of delivering good quality. of life for all residents of Richmond, while protecting our historic assets that provide the charm and slow pace of life she calls the Richmond State of Mind.

Three days after her electoral defeat, she posted a greeting note to the woman who beat her. The note ended with news of important city activities:

“We had a successful movie night last Friday at Wessendorff Park with ‘The Addams Family’ and we’re presenting the next movie on Friday November 20th with ‘Moana’. Plans are also underway for the screening of the movie “Home Alone” following the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday December 4th, followed by the 18th Annual Miracle on Morton Street on Saturday December 5th! “

What’s not to love about small towns and their mayors? And this small town has kept its mayor in one family for 71 straight years.

Hilmar Moore, shown here in 2009 with a statue of himself, served as mayor of Richmond from 1949 until his death in 2012.