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 its important that voters return to the ballot box one more time.
Well theres a runoff, Stanart says. Youre going to have an opportunity to vote on your mayor, so you dont 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. Thats historically been the protocol for runoffs in Houston. Stanart says theyre still waiting on final approval from Harris County and the city.
Were 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 were 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 hell focus on the same issues that resonate with voters.
Well 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.
Turner says narrowing the field allows the candidates to go more in-depth with their policy ideas. Hes 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.
Weve 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. Theyre just hard.
Voters also overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 1, Houstons 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 womens 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 theyre pulling the Super Bowl or the Final Four basketball tournament, but you might see a national group here or there saying they wont come to Houston for a convention, Stein says.
But Stein says the fight likely isnt 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 wont 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.