The midterm elections on November 6, 2018 marked the end of one political cycle for the country and the start of a new political cycle for the city of Houston. 2019 will be the year that Houstonians get to select their leaders and Kris Banks is an LGBTQ leader who works closely with our current mayor, so he expects this year will be busier than usual.
Banks, 38, is the Special Assistant on Government Relations for Mayor Sylvester Turner. In this role he works with elected officials and the community to help develop legislation that will benefit the city. However, his current stint in local government is not the first time he has been active in leading the community at-large, or the LGBTQ community specifically.
“I started an organization called the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats for LGBTQ people under 35. That segued into leadership roles with the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, which is the largest and most influential local LGBTQ organization in town. I served as president of that organization from 2009 to 2010, which included the historic election of Annise Parker as the first LGBTQ mayor of a major city. The organization is the oldest existing LGBTQ organization in the South, and I was the first president born after it was formed.” said Banks.
Banks has lived in Houston for thirteen years. He has called neighborhoods like Montrose and EaDo home but currently he resides with his husband and two dogs in the growing Near Northside community. His deep involvement in the community has given him an insiders perspective on where to go and what to do in Houston.
“First things first, I would head over to the original Taqueria Laredo on Cavalcade for breakfast tacos. There's always a line, but it goes pretty fast and it's good for practicing your order in Spanish. Then I would go for a run in the newly renovated Memorial Park. After that, drive down to Hillcroft to go to Himalayas, an Indian/Pakistani place that serves its lunch special in these old school cafeteria trays, where each compartment has a different curry or dish.” said Banks when asked to describe his perfect day in Houston.
“Head home, grab a bike with my husband and ride down the Menil (Collection). I've been a million times but usually there's something new and I never get tired of the Cy Twombly Gallery. Walk over a few blocks to meet some friends at the West Alabama Ice House for a few beers, then back up to the Heights for dinner at Coltivare - my second wait of the day since they don't take reservations, but the cocktails in the garden make that alright, and I'm still digesting that curry from lunch anyway. We're definitely getting the black pepper spaghetti but I'll see what the night's special is to determine our full meal. Maybe we'll wrap things up with a drink at Raven Tower,”continued Banks.
Visitors and residents alike are wise to heed his recommendations. When you work for the mayor of the fourth largest city in America, you find yourself all over the city meeting with constituents. He knows what he is talking about.