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Houston City Council Run-Off Races Will Sway Public Policy

Early voting for Houston's city council run-off races begins on Wednesday. There are five city council seats on the ballot and a lot of political sway up for grabs.


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The city council run-off races are in At-Large Positions 2 and 3 and single-member districts A, D, and I.

Rice University Political Science Chair Mark Jones says those single-member districts will have a lot of influence in the run-off races.

“Particularly turnout in District A and District D, those voters since they’re turning out for the district races will exercise an out-sized influence over the At-Large districts because in the other remaining council districts there’s less incentive to turn out.”

Most of the run-off races are a toss-up right now, although there are a couple of frontrunners.

Political Analyst Mustafa Tameez says one of the more significant races is At-Large Position 3, because it will have an effect on Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s final term.

“Mayor Parker is losing a very strong ally in Melissa Noriega, who occupied At-Large 3. She is going to be replaced by either Michael Kubosh or Roy Morales, both of whom are self-confessed conservatives and both have challenged the mayor in different ways.”

If those names sound familiar, it may be because Roy Morales ran against Parker in the mayor’s race in 2009, and Michael Kubosh successfully spearheaded the campaign to run red light cameras out of town. Kubosh is the current frontrunner.

Tameez says Helena Brown, another strong conservative, is likely to win her race in District A.

With 16 city council districts, it now takes eight councilmember votes for the mayor to pass her agenda.

“In these last two years, Mayor Parker is going to have her legacy, and so she’s going to try to put forward agendas and policies that she wasn’t able to get done in the last four years. The new make-up of the council, well it remains to be seen. Are there enough votes for her to get her agenda done, or some of these new councilmembers who are coming in, in her last last lame duck session, are likely to make their own points and try to deviate her agenda.”

While it’s not clear yet how the dynamics will play out at city hall, it is a reality that a very small number of Houston voters will decide the make-up of the city’s leadership for the entire populace.

Turnout for the run-offs is expected to be extremely low.


More voting information: 

For early voting: December 4-10th  

For run-off election day December 14th