We previously analyzed District D with its 12 candidates and the impact it may have on the Mayor’s race. In our continuing series on Council races, we will focus on District I.
Like District D, District I has no incumbent. Council Member James Rodriguez has served his full terms on Council and is prohibited from seeking re-election.
There are 4 candidates in the race. Each has a distinct perspective and alignments with other elected officials. The candidates are referenced in alphabetical order.
Leticia Ablaza was formerly a Council staffer to Council Member Helena Brown. She has also volunteered on a variety of campaigns. She is a long-time resident of the district and drew nearly 40% of the vote when she opposed Rodriguez in 2011.
Gracie Garces is Chief of Staff to the current Council Member. Given her experience in working with him, she has deep ties to civic clubs throughout the district as well as the support of Rodriguez and State Representative Carol Alvarado.
Robert Gallego is a civic activist with deep ties in the district. He has served as a civic club president and has worked on most major projects in the area for years. He formerly worked for then County Commissioner and now State Senator Sylvia Garcia. She is actively campaigning on his behalf.
Ben Mendez is a businessman with deep ties across Houston’s Latino community as well as strong political connections. He is by far the best funded candidate and is running a well-organized campaign. However, his opponents accuse of him of “not living in the district”. While he did relocate, he has been active in the community for a long time.
The candidate field is strong and should bolster turnout. However, this district historically has a low voter turnout. It doesn’t seem that Parker or Hall are investing heavily in winning the Latino vote while they focus on other communities.
This district will have a higher than normal voter turnout due to the competition of the aforementioned candidates. However, it will not likely have a major impact on the Mayoral candidates.