The winner of a tight local election in a mostly African-American community in Houston on Monday denied assertions that he deceived voters into thinking he was black.
Dave Wilson, who is white, edged out 24-year incumbent Bruce Austin by 26 votes, 5,961-5,935 to become the District II representative for the Houston Community College System board of trustees, according to the local election board.
Austin, who is black, attacked his rival for mailings that included photos of African-Americans, but no pictures of Wilson.
Austin said he “was rather disgusted” with the campaign tactics that he argued weren’t fair play, according to CNN affiliate KHOU.
KHOU also reports Austin plans to ask for a recount, although electronic voting means Wilson’s win will likely stand.
In an interview with CNN, Wilson denied allegations over race.
“I didn’t put my picture out there because I wanted to stick with the issues,” Wilson said.
As for the assertion that he wanted voters to think he was black; “that’s false.”
“I did not want race to be the deciding factor,” Wilson said.
Wilson also said he didn’t think people voted for Austin because of his race, but because of his incumbent status.
That is part of why the campaign victory came as a surprise.
“Nobody was shocked more than me,” Wilson told KHOU.
“I had always said it was a longshot. No I didn’t expect to win.”
Wilson doesn’t think voters would believe he’s black based on the campaign mailings.
“They know what I look like,” he said in the CNN inteview, speaking of public appearances and a 2011 candidacy for mayor.
Wilson says he won because of the hundreds of doors he knocked on and overspending and rising tuition in the community college system.
“Not one voter has complained” about the mailings, Wilson said.
Wilson admits that some of the photos he used in the mailings were pulled from the Internet. Others, however, were of students at a nonprofit electrician’s school he runs, Wilson said.
The reason for the African-American faces? Wilson said it was “target marketing” for the community.
Despite some depictions of being a “political mischief maker,” Wilson, instead, described himself as a “principled man” who is unafraid to speak out.