Sheila Jackson Lee and John Whitmire will be headed to a runoff election to decide who will take over for Sylvester Turner
According to an NBC News projection, Democrats Sheila Jackson Lee and John Whitmire will be headed to a runoff election to decide who will take over for Sylvester Turner, as he is term-limited and cannot seek reelection. There was a crowded field of diverse candidates in America’s fourth largest city, but Jackson Lee and Whitmire distinguished themselves from the pack. Each has received major endorsements from players in Houston’s political scene, Whitmire from the Houston Chronicle‘s editorial board and Jackson Lee from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
According to the Texas Tribune, the race has largely revolved around crime, budget crisis, and the personalities of the two leaders. Jackson Lee would be the city’s first Black woman mayor, and continue a long line of Black mayors in Houston if she is elected. Whitmire came into the race as the frontrunner, and he still occupies that position as he holds 42% of the vote, while Jackson Lee claims 35% of the vote.
Outgoing Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner appears ready to formally back Sheila Jackson Lee to succeed him now that she’s in the mayoral runoff pic.twitter.com/Mo3mZQIUo5— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) November 8, 2023
Jackson Lee told her supporters on Nov 7, “I started this journey around the issue of people — making sure that whatever I said was to make Houston a liveable city, and to make Houston a city that responded to the needs of families and our children,” Jackson Lee said. “I hope that however the outcome is, it will reflect the people bought into a positive agenda that will take this city into the future and that future will be something for everyone.”
Jackson Lee secured the endorsement of Turner on Nov 8, who had been abstaining from endorsing either candidate, Jackson Lee sorely needs the boost because the polling is indicative that she will lose in a direct head to head matchup against Whitmire. A recording of Jackson Lee cursing at and berating a staffer likely does not help her standing, but some Houstonians, like campaign volunteer Jason Dawkins, believe that she is already ready to hit the ground running as mayor. Dawkins told the Tribune “In many ways, she has served as some form of the mayor of Houston for all these years,” Dawkins said. “She’s really ready to be mayor on day one.”
State Democratic Party leaders see the runoff, which is scheduled for Dec 9, as a good thing for both the City of Houston and state politics. Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa told the Houston Chronicle, “A healthy democracy consists of strong candidates working towards the common goal of serving the best interest of our communities,” Hinojosa said. “Houstonians are lucky to choose between two Texas Democrats who have dedicated their careers to making Houston the powerhouse metropolis it is today. Houston is the heartbeat of Texas, and we look forward to the voters of Houston making their voice heard.”
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Source: Black Enterprise