City News

John Whitmire wins Houston Mayor race in run-off, defeats Jackson-Lee

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

State Sen. John Whitmire won in a landslide to be Houston’s 63rd mayor, defeating U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson-Lee in the December run-off.

Whitmire won by almost 60% in the run-off against Jackson-Lee, the Associated Press called the race less than half an hour after polls closed at 7:24 p.m. He will lead the largest Texas city and the fourth largest city in the U.S.

As a mayoral candidate, Whitmire took a strong stance on curbing crime in the city and has repeatedly emphasized that crime will be his priority as Houston’s mayor.

He, like Jackson-Lee, touted his experience in the Texas Senate, stating that his connections with Austin would aid the city in securing much-needed funding for infrastructure projects. At a mayoral debate at UH  he said it was crucial for Houston to build back its relationship with Austin.

“I don’t mind telling folks what a great city we have. But we’ve got great challenges. If we will come together and realize it won’t be easy. In fact, we will face challenges. But I see that as an opportunity. And I need you to join hands with me. We’ll meet our challenges. It’ll be an opportunity to show the nation what the city of Houston can do,” Whitmire said in his victory speech according to the Associated Press.

Whitmire has represented Houston’s District 15 as a Democrat in the state Senate since 1982. The UH alum previously served in the state House for 10 years after he was elected in 1972. He was appointed to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee in 1993. As the longest serving member of the state Senate, he is unofficially referred to as the “Dean of the Senate.”

Kathy Whitmire, who served as Houston’s mayor from 1982 to 1991, was married to Whitmire’s brother.

Whitmire lead the mayoral race in polls since its start and was ahead of Jackson-Lee during the general election in November as well.

Jackson Lee has represented Houston’s 18th district in the U.S. House as a Democrat since she was elected in 1995. She has until the Monday deadline to decide if she wants to file for reelection for her current seat. As of right now, Amanda Edwards, former city council at-large member and her former intern Isaiah Martin have filed for the March primary.

At 74, Whitmire is the oldest mayor to be elected in Houston in at least 100 years. He will take office on Jan. 1, leading a city turning younger, with almost 25% of its population below 18, according to the U.S. census. 

He will replace current mayor Sylvester Turner who is term limited and served as the city’s mayor for  eight years from 2016.

Whitmire leaves an open state senate seat ahead of the March primary.

City Controller

Attorney Chris Hollins won the race to be Houston’s next chief financial officer by 59.32% with 77,003 votes counted, according to Harris County unofficial election results.  Defeating  former Harris County treasurer Orlando Sanchez.

The controller is the chief financial officer of the city. Like the mayor, the controller is also bound to a maximum of two four-year terms. The controller is able to audit how city agencies are spending tax dollars and oversees how the city allocates its budget.

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