Why Houston Insiders Have An Eye On City Council District A

Early voting starts on Monday and all of Houston's City Council seats are on the ballot. But the council race that insiders have an eye on is in District A — on the near west side of town.

Two years ago, District A was represented by Brenda Stardig. Stardig served one term and then lost reelection to tea party newcomer Helena Brown.

Now, Helena Brown is facing fierce competition in her campaign for reelection from none other than Brenda Stardig.

“I really decided to run for District A again because I wanted to go back and finish the work I started. I’ve stayed focused my entire career in the community, focusing on public safety, infrastructure, flooding and nuisance businesses.”

Stardig says she lost in 2011 because she took the race for granted. She’s running a far more aggressive campaign this time.

Now further complicating matters in District A is Mike Knox.

“I’m in this race because for the past four years I don’t believe that we’ve had very effective leadership at city council. And I have some ideas and strategies that I think will be more effective.”

Knox is a retired police officer who is also running for the seat and is likely to draw enough votes to force the race into a run-off between the top two candidates.

Helena Brown seems confident it won’t come to that.

She holds up a newsletter photo of her with about a dozen other people as she points out that a super-majority of the civic leaders in District A have endorsed her.

“And if you represent the community and be their voice, you’re going to be respected for that. To sell out at the cost of the neighborhoods or their principles, their beliefs, or what they’re calling for is not appropriate and that’s not what District A has asked for. We’ve had that in the past, and that’s why even in my predecessor’s own neighborhood, I got 60 percent of the vote. This is what they’re asking for, this is what I’ve pledged and this is what I’ve delivered.”

But Brown isn’t very popular at City Hall.

She’s a frequent “no” vote for things like homeless housing, HIV and TB testing and park improvements.

She says those no votes are the will of her district.

Rice University Political Science Prof. Mark Jones says this is one of the only city council races where the incumbent could lose.
He calls Brown a relatively controversial incumbent.

“She’s seen as something of a loose cannon in city council. Now the advantage she has is that there’s a small segment of the district, but it’s a segment that votes at a relatively high rate, that likes what she is doing and is very happy with it.”

There are also two other candidates, Amy Peck and Ron Hale, running for District A, but they’re considered unlikely to garner much of the vote.

Jones says a run-off seems all but certain in District A. What no one can predict is who will be in that run-off and whether District A voters will end up surprising city hall insiders again.

Click here for more 2013 election coverage and information.


Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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