Who is running for mayor of Houston? Here is the full list

Since the 1980ss, Houston politics was led by majority Democratic leaders at the county and city levels. As a result, the Houston mayor’s office is run on a nonpartisan ballot intended to accommodate all residents regardless of political affiliation: Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Libertarians.

A year and a half before the mayoral election (November 7, 2023), leaders of various positions have already declared their candidacies. With more candidates likely to announce in the coming months, the four publicly announced as of now include Texas State Senator John Whitmire, former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, former member of the City Councilman Amanda Edwards and Missouri City Police Officer Robin Williams. Each candidate has a different background, job title and vision for the city, but consistently focuses on similar issues that remain the top concern of Houstonians.

Current Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has been plagued by a number of infrastructure issues that have caused mixed feelings about his last term, like any politician. A year into his second term in 2017, the city was hit by Hurricane Harvey, one of the most devastating hurricanes in Texas history, with a total of $125 billion in damage. Turner did his best to bring the city back to life after a tragic natural disaster that many Houstonians had not experienced since Hurricane Rita in 2005. While he created programs with METRO, the main line of public system of the city, to better meet a functioning city for all residents, many Houstonians still believe the city system could be better. In its six years, with the impact of Hurricane Harvey, Winter Storm Uri, a severe COVID-19 pandemic, passed city budget deficits and an increase in homeless Houstonians, Turner kept the ship afloat. Some positives of his current tenure include creating access to housing for homeless Houstonians, starting the transition to move the city to solar power, and maintaining a positive relationship with the LGBTQ+ community in Houston.

But Houstonians still want the next mayor to address the same issues they were concerned about before Turner took office. For example, issues like flooding, road repairs, homeless community, traffic jams and public transportation are some of them, and a decrease in crime is another. Additionally, managing the sewer system, recycling services, and proper drainage remain a top priority for Houstonians. And worrying about flooding every time it rains is unsustainable. With the county currently in a lawsuit with the I-45 expansion by the Texas Department of Transportation, if passed, the city could see a complete change in transportation. Depending on how the legal proceedings unfold, this could mean more congestion, environmental risks and more than five years of construction.

Additionally, the city’s affordability and property taxes will result in the eviction of more families who have lived in the city for generations. Homelessness has been an issue every mayor has faced since the crisis began in the 1980s, although the number of homeless Houstonians has declined since the early 2000s. In 2021, the homeless population reached a historic low with 3,605 reported either on the streets or in social housing. But it exploded again more recently in 2022.

Additionally, criminal justice reform advocates were quick to denounce Turner for his lack of transparency during contract negotiations with the Houston Police Union, a resolution that ultimately passed unanimously by the board. The backlog of cases, unequal bail and a surge in repeat offenders will also be another task the next mayor will have to tackle. Here is the background of the current declared candidates:

Amanda Edwards, Lawyer
Lawyer Amanda Edwards is the third candidate to announce her run and she is the only former city council member to run. After serving four years as an At-Large Position 4 council member, Edwards said if elected, she wants to build on the work she has done on the council. On the board, Edwards served as Vice Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee, the Economic Development Committee, and the Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee. She also worked on a municipal task force that focused on traffic jams and environmental impacts on residents and created a city innovation district. The mayoral race comes after Edwards’ failed bid to oust Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn in 2020. Edwards points to his experience in municipal finance, as well as serving on various boards in the private sectors. and non-profit, as key factors that define it. away from the other candidates. Like the others, Edwards said his main issues will be reducing crime, mitigating flooding and increasing fair economic opportunity. To deal with rising crime, she believes the city needs to add more police to the streets while creating a culture where community policing and proper training take priority. As another born-and-raised Houstonian, Edwards said she will also focus on building an all-members-of-the-community coalition among government officials, community leaders, elected officials and ordinary residents to ensure everyone has a seat at the table and an opinion on the future of the city. If elected, Edwards would be the first black woman to lead the city.

John WhitmireTexas state senator.
The oldest member of the Texas Senate, Democrat John Whitmire is the first of four candidates to announce his candidacy for mayor. With a warchest of $11 million and thousands of possible endorsements from city and state officials, Whitmire could be considered the frontrunner in the race. After his last primary victory in March, Whitmire said he still plans to sit in the 2023 legislative session and then campaign for mayor before the November 2023 mayoral election. At 72, he is the oldest candidate in the race, with more than 30 years of legislative experience in the State Senate representing District 15. His political career began in 1973 where he served as Representative before joining the State Senate. As chairman of the Texas Criminal Justice Committee, he focused primarily on solving problems in the criminal justice system. And he prides himself on being “tough and smart on crime”. Also known as Dean of the Senate, Whitmire also focused on building relationships with public employee unions, supporting increased funding for public educators and cracking down on crime, sometimes even aligning himself with officials across the aisle, breaking with mainstream Democratic opinion. . In 2021, Whitmire was asked about the lack of air conditioning units in Houston prisons and replied, “Don’t commit a crime and you can be cool at home.” With only an announcement of his mayoral candidacy, one would assume that Whitmire will continue to fight for the same policies he has supported during his 49 years in government.

Robin WilliamsMissouri city police officer and former sailor
Robin Williams comes to the race with the most first-hand public safety experience. Williams served four years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps, which led to her joining the American Red Cross’ Department of International Social Services, where she supported and connected families displaced persons and former combatants who had been affected by the war. This led Willims to start his own non-profit organization, A Hero Needs a Story, which provides vets and serving members a platform to voice their experiences in the armed forces, while working with families and managing the veterans program at the Michael E. Debakey VA. Medical Center. Now up for Mayor of Houston, Williams is focused on Houston-area police/community policing engagement, homelessness, road repairs, improving health accessibility mental health and public transport. At 31, Williams is the only candidate who has never held public office, but said her experience in the armed forces and police makes her adept at solving crime in the city. As a Missouri City police officer, she said her campaign would reflect her experience as a black woman and officer to build trust between the community and residents. Additionally, his push for accountability across all Houston agencies shows a paradigm shift in the current system. As his website puts it, Williams’ term will be “supporting the blue, but not the bullies in blue.” His focus on economic growth, job security and flood mitigation also mimics issues cited by the other three candidates in the race. If elected, Williams could also be the first black woman to lead the city and the council in 2023.

Chris Hollins, Lawyer-Member of the board of directors of Metro
Widely known for creating accessible voting options such as 24-hour mail-in, drive-thru and online vote tracking for the 2020 elections during COVD-19 pandemic, Chris Hollins was the second candidate to announce his candidacy for mayor. Since the 2020 election, the Texas Legislature has passed Senate Bill 1, a restrictive ballot measure specifically targeted at Hollins and Harris County to create new ways for seniors, minorities, and voters with disabilities. to vote safely. Hollins successfully defeated a slew of lawsuits brought by Texas Republicans and has since focused on creating innovative ways for all Texans to have access to the polls. Since leaving his former position as Harris County Clerk, Hollins is now Vice President of Finance for the Texas Democratic Party and a member of METRO’s Board of Directors. In his race for mayor, in addition to accessibility to the vote, Hollins supports decriminalizing marijuana, fixing the city’s public transportation system, addressing environmental issues impact on residents and other issues. On tackling crime in the city, Hollins said he wants to add more police to the streets, a position similar to that of his opponents, who also make reducing the crime rate one of of their top priorities. Additionally, Hollins wants to tackle flooding, housing, investments in green spaces, partnerships with school districts, and road repairs. In his current work of METRO Board member, Hollins is managing the $7 billion expansion plan while hoping to transition the public transportation system to renewable energy by 2030.