Houston Mayor

Houston Mayoral Candidates Head To Runoff Election

The two frontrunners, Sylvester Turner and Bill King, will compete in a runoff election.

turner election night 2

None of the 13 mayoral candidates secured a majority of the vote. So the two frontrunners, Sylvester Turner and Bill King, will compete in a runoff election. Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart says it’s important that voters return to the ballot box one more time.

“Well there’s a runoff,” Stanart says. “You’re going to have an opportunity to vote on your mayor, so you don’t get your mayor chosen unless you show up.”

Early voting dates are set for December 2 through December 8, and Election Day is scheduled for December 12, a Saturday. That’s historically been the protocol for runoffs in Houston. Stanart says they’re still waiting on final approval from Harris County and the city.

“We’re working with the City of Houston to get them to approve the early voting locations and the Election Day locations, and that should be done next week, and then we’re off to the races,” he says.

In the runoff, voters will also decide on two school board seats for the Houston Independent School District. Stanart says all of these races will fall on the same ballot.

Meanwhile, the two leading mayoral candidates have about six more weeks to campaign. Frontrunner Sylvester Turner secured 32 percent of the vote on Election Day. In the runoff, he says he’ll focus on the same issues that resonate with voters.

“We’ll continue to talk about building a safe city with strong schools and better economic opportunities, while at the same time addressing the infrastructure needs of this city,” Turner says.

Bill King addresses supporters
Former Kemah Mayor Bill King addresses supporters at his election night rally at the Westin Galleria. Joining King on the podium were
family members and State Senator Paul Bettencourt (right)

Turner says narrowing the field allows the candidates to go more in-depth with their policy ideas. He’s up against Bill King, who got 25 percent of the vote.

King was not available for an interview, but at his election watch party, the candidate reaffirmed his message about balancing the budget, building better roads and reducing crime.

“We’ve got to get the city back to basics, and when you sort of lay these problems end to end, they seem a little daunting,” King says. “But the truth of the matter is, these problems are not complicated. They’re just hard.”

Voters also overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 1, Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance. The long-disputed measure would have outlawed discrimination based on things like race, sexual orientation or gender identity. Anti-HERO activists fought back hard, arguing that the ordinance would allow men in women’s bathrooms.

In the end, 61 percent of voters rejected the proposition. That makes Houston one of the few major cities without a non-discrimination ordinance. Rice University political science professor Bob Stein says rejecting HERO could have economic consequences.

“Well, we may not see the NFL or the NCAA saying they’re pulling the Super Bowl or the Final Four basketball tournament, but you might see a national group here or there saying they won’t come to Houston for a convention,” Stein says.

But Stein says the fight likely isn’t over. He says the city council could pass an amended ordinance, or the next mayor could put forth a new one altogether, but it probably won’t happen any time soon.

“Sometimes these kinds of divisive battles require a sort of healing period, and clearly a new ordinance, passed by council unanimously or with an overwhelming support, might be the way to do it,” he says.

If the city faces any immediate economic backlash, Stein says the two mayoral candidates will have to address HERO in the runoff election.

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Tomeka Weatherspoon

Senior Producer

Tomeka Weatherspoon is an Emmy-award winning producer. She produces segments, the weekly television program Arts InSight, the short film showcase The Territory and a forthcoming digital series on innovation. Originally from the Midwest, Tomeka studied convergence journalism from the world’s first journalism school at the University of Missouri. She has...

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