Houston, We Have a Runoff Election

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and State Sen. John Whitmire will face each other on Dec. 9. to be the next mayor of Houston.

Texans made some significant decisions when they went to the polls last week

Thanks to Proposition 1, they decided that you had to show proof that a farming practice was harmful to the public before regulating it.

By voting to pass Proposition 2, Texans gave cities and counties the right to exempt anyone who uses a property to provide day care services from paying property taxes.

And thanks to Proposition 3, the Texas Legislature must bring any tax increase based on net worth to the voters for approval. So, Elon Musk’s decision to move Tesla and Space X makes a lot more sense now.

But what Texans didn’t decide on Tuesday was who'll be the mayor of its largest city. As such, U.S Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Texas State Sen. John Whitmire will face each other in a runoff for mayor of Houston on Dec. 9.

Eighteen people were on the ballot to succeed current Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, who couldn’t run again due to term limits. Of that 18, Jackson Lee and Whitmire rose to the top, with Whitmire getting 42.5 percent of the vote to Jackson Lee’s 35.64 percent.

Reclaim Your Vote 2023: Black To the Ballot Box

Though Whitmire and Jackson Lee are both Democrats, they and the other 16 candidates were listed as non-partisan on the ballot. Gilbert Garcia, former chair of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, came in third but didn’t crack double digits with 7 percent of the vote. Most of the other candidates got less than 1 percent of the vote.

After remaining neutral during the campaign, Turner endorsed Jackson Lee, a longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives, in the runoff.

 "There's no doubt in my mind that a vote for Sheila Jackson Lee is not just a vote for the person but a vote for the City of Houston," Turner said. "So come Dec. 9, I shall gladly go to the polling location, step in and cast my ballot for Sheila Jackson Lee. And I hope Houstonians of all persuasions will do the same.”

While he respected the outgoing mayor’s decision, Whitmire, who was endorsed by former Houston Mayor Lee Brown, said it wouldn’t deter him.

 “I will continue to focus on what Houstonians care about – public safety, infrastructure, affordability, garbage pickup and other city services that Houstonians expect," he said in a statement issued by his campaign.

According to the polls, Jackson Lee is expected to do well with Houston’s Black community but may have problems expanding her base due to negative perceptions among Republicans and Independents. Whitmire is expected to do better with those voters.

In addition to the mayor’s office, seven city council seats and the city controller’s seat are also up for a runoff. The most notable among these seats is the race for Council’s District G. Incumbent Mary Nan Huffman faces off against attorney Tony Buzbee to represent the district. Buzbee tried to unseat Turner in 2019 but was unsuccessful. He went on to represent Texas Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton in his impeachment trial held earlier this year.

Voters will have from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Dec. 9 to make sure their voices are heard. Information on the candidates, their websites and how you can cast your vote can be found here. If you’re not sure of where your polling place is because it might be different than the one you're used in the general election, you can find that information here for Harris County, here for Montgomery County and here for Fort Bend County.

Also, a reminder that voters in Louisiana have elections to look forward to on Nov. 18. Attorney Gen. Jeff Landry won the primary election in October and is now the governor-elect, but statewide voters will be making choices for Attorney General, Secretary of State and Treasurer. For more information, visit Urban League of Louisiana.


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