Elections

Chris Hollins wins election as Houston city controller

Former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins defeated former Harris County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez by a margin of just over 59% to 40% in early voting results.

Chris Hollins gives a speech at his election night party.
Rebecca Noel/Houston Public Media
Chris Hollins gives a speech at his election night party. Hollins won city controller in a runoff election against Orlando Sanchez.

Former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins defeated former Harris County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez in the race for Houston city controller. The tally from the Harris County Clerk's Office showed Hollins beating Sanchez by over 59% to just over 40% with over 122,000 early votes cast.

An emotional Chris Hollins to his supporters at the watch party on Saturday night.
"The city of Houston spoke with one voice tonight...we got it done,” he said. “…My promise to every Houstonian is we're going to come in on day one and work hard and work smart."

Hollins came within a few points of eking out a victory in the first round of the controller's contest. While Houston municipal elections are officially nonpartisan, Hollins has long identified as a Democrat. That may have helped him, given Harris County's trend of electing Democrats to major offices over the last several election cycles. Sanchez was previously elected county treasurer as a Republican.

Hollins was vice chair for finance of the Texas Democratic Party in May 2020 when Harris County commissioners tapped him for the post of interim county clerk. He came to the post after the elected clerk, Diane Trautman, resigned due to health concerns. As interim county clerk, Hollins oversaw the 2020 elections, introducing a number of innovations to increase voter safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, including drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting at some locations. He did not run for a full term as clerk and was succeeded by the victor in that year’s clerk’s election, Democrat Teneshia Hudspeth.

Hollins initially launched a bid for mayor of Houston before dropping out in favor of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who lost to Sen. John Whitmire.

Hollins will enter the controller's post as the city faces significant fiscal challenges with the rapidly approaching end of federal COVID assistance. Outgoing City Controller Chris Brown has repeatedly forecast that Houston's next administration will need to cut spending significantly starting next year if it is to avoid a budget crisis in 2025.

Rebecca Noel contributed to this report.