The League of Women Voters and Houston Public Media have organized the debate.
Jon Taylor is a political science professor at St. Thomas.
"Well, it's gotten fun, I can say that! It's actually gotten testy, which honestly is not a surprise."
Observers have remarked that Houston gets serious about the mayor's race about every six years, or three terms. That election largely decides who will win the next two.
"It's funny you say that. That actually seems to be kinda conventional wisdom, that once we elect a mayor that we essentially give them two more terms without tremendous opposition; although, that's not completely accurate. We've had opposition before for mayors in their second or third race. That said, every election is different and every race is different. So Mr. Hall seems to be giving Mayor Parker a run for her money, for no other reason than she's having to put out ads left and right and both sides have engaged in negative campaigning."
Professor Taylor says Parker and Ben Hall have a lot to gain — or lose — with tonight's debate.
"So the question will be how much snipping will there be back and forth, and it'll be kind of fun to see how the minor candidates, how they will interact in this particular format. It's like watching during presidential primary debates where you've got every single presidential candidate really get attention and really, you know, make some noise."
The mayoral debate starts at 7 tonight on HoustonPBS/Channel 8 and here on KUHF.