Mayor Parker won her re-election effort, as expected. She narrowly avoided a run-off by garnering 50.86% of the vote. In politics, it only takes 50+1 for victory. She defeated 5 opponents and in her own words, “the economy”. She considered the difficult economic climate to be a disadvantage and polls consistently document voter dissatisfaction with the slow economic growth in America.
It should be noted, however, that Parker’s 5 opponents were relative unknowns who spent few dollars and ran mostly grass-roots campaigns. Parker took the race seriously. She raised money, campaigned hard, ran television ads and operated a grass-roots organizing effort. I am certain that she and her team are thankful for every penny they spent and all efforts they put forward.
Had she not run an aggressive campaign, she would likely have found herself in a run-off this morning. Now begins the tough work of strengthening her agenda and convincing Council that they need to support her.
The Council races were intriguing, at best. The surprise of the evening was in Council District A where incumbent Brenda Stardig finished second to challenger Helena Brown and they are headed to a run-off. Stardig was accused of being too close to the Mayor by her opponent.
At-Large 5 has incumbent Jolanda Jones facing Jack Christie in a run-off. This is a repeat of 2009. Newcomer Laurie Robinson finished third with 19.8% of the vote.
At-Large 2 finds perennial run-off candidate Andrew Burks leading Kristie Thibault among a crowded field. Burks historically fares well and has repeatedly secured spots in a run-off. Former State Representative Thibault finished second with anti-Rebuild Houston candidate Elizabeth Perez nipping at her heels.
District B was another interesting race. It had many candidates but Alvin Byrd, Chief of Staff for outgoing Council Member Jarvis Johnson leads businessman Jerry Davis into a run-off by a margin of less than 100 votes.
In District C, Ellen Cohen led the crowded field in the new “hipstrict” and won without a run-off.
Other incumbents were handily re-elected. Mike Laster won the new District J seat while Larry Green won the new District K seat.
The run-offs will pose an interesting juxtaposition of Houston voters. As we predicted in this first round, voter turnout was abysmal – less than 10%. It will be even tougher in the run-off. Districts A and B run-offs will drive the vote for the run-off election.
District A , a predominantly white and mostly conservative district had a total of 7901 voters. District B, an African-American district, had 9017 voters. Both run-offs will be generating grass-roots activity and striving to turnout voters.
At-Large 2 and 5 include an African-American and white candidate in each race – Thibault versus Burks and Jones versus Christie. These 4 candidates will have to struggle hard to encourage voters citywide (beyond A&B) to return to the polls to cast their ballots for these races only.
We’ll examine this more closely in the coming weeks.