ABOVE: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner addresses the U.S. Conference of Mayors 86th annual Winter Meeting at the Capitol Hilton January 25, 2018 in Washington, DC. The non-partisan conference of mayors from cities with populations of 300,000 or larger meet annually in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The much-anticipated results of the 2019 Joint Runoff Elections are in and the Houston Forward Times is here to give you the results of the key races that everyone was watching.
After being forced into a runoff during an extremely nasty and negative campaign, incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner easily defeated his challenger, Tony Buzbee, to win his second 4-year term as mayor of the fourth-largest city in the country. Turner defeated Buzbee by a wide-margin, garnering 57 percent of the vote to Buzbee’s 43 percent.
Buzbee, who refused to concede the race to Turner, spent $12.3 million of his own money on his campaign and made an odd statement on social media claiming that he didn’t actually lose the race, he just “ran out of time.”
Buzbee’s statement really comes off as a curious one, in that he had four years, since Turner was first elected in 2015, to connect with Houstonians to gain support, but clearly failed to do so.
With the victory, Turner becomes only the second African American to win re-election to lead the City of Houston. Mayor Lee P. Brown was the first African American to be elected mayor of Houston in 1997 and served the maximum of three terms from 1998 to 2004. City of Houston residents have since voted, in 2015, to change the terms of their elected officials from three 2-year terms to two 4-year terms.
During his victory speech, Mayor Turner delivered a powerful message to youth in the city who live in communities that have been underserved and under-resourced, encouraging them to look beyond their current circumstances and dream big.
“If there is any lesson from this campaign, it is this,” proclaimed Turner. “You don’t have to have as much money as somebody else. You don’t have to live in a house that’s as big as somebody else. You don’t have to drive a car that is as fancy as somebody else. You can still compete in the same race and you can win.”
Another historic milestone was achieved as a result of the 2019 Joint Runoff Elections. This is the first time in the history of the City of Houston that four African American women have been elected to serve on City Council, with a fifth African American woman to be elected later, once the controversial District B lawsuit is resolved. In that race, two African American women are the frontrunners to faceoff in a runoff election, with a third African American woman challenging the validity of one of those respective candidates. Either way, another Black woman will join the group of newly elected Council Members, making the total number – five.
Those four African American women, who will take their seats beginning January 2020, are:
Dr. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz | District D
Tiffany Thomas | District F
Martha Castex-Tatum | District K
Letitia Plummer | At-Large Position 4
Several of the other closely-watched races of the evening in this election cycle involved other Council races, Houston Community College (HCC) Trustee races and Houston Independent School District (HISD) races.
In the At-Large Position 1 race, incumbent Mike Knox won. In the At-Large Position 2 race, incumbent David Robinson was victorious. In the At-Large Position 3 race, incumbent Michael Kubosh prevailed. In the At-Large Position 5 race, Sallie Alcorn was successful.
Another standout victory was another African American who prevailed in an extremely diverse district, with Edward Pollard winning his race to become the next Council Member for District J.
Former HISD Board Trustee Rhonda Skillern Jones, soundly defeated her opponent to become the newest HCC District II Trustee, garnering 57 percent of the overall vote.
Kathy Blueford-Daniels (Position 2) and Patricia K. Allen (Position 4) both won their respective HISD Board Trustee races.
After this 2019 Joint Runoff Election, coupled with the upcoming District B runoff election that has yet to be decided, Mayor Turner will take the helm for his second term with one of the most unique and diverse groups that the City of Houston has ever seen – a total of six African Americans; a total of five African American women; and a total of nine women – all serving on Houston City Council with him for the next four years.
The Houston Forward Times congratulates Mayor Turner and all of the elected officials who were victorious on their recent victories. As always, the Houston Forward Times will be watching and has huge expectations for these elected officials in that we are hopeful that each and every one of them will represent the City of Houston and their constituents well.