Well, the results are in on Houston's mayoral election, and, if you were hoping Election Day's weak turnout would somehow manage to yield a decisive victory for any of the major candidates, your hopes were misplaced.
That's right. In keeping with Houston's time-honored tradition of never selecting our mayor on the first pass, we're once again heading for a runoff.
Mayor Sylvester Turner garnered the largest portion of the vote, about 47 percent, just shy of the majority he needed to avoid a December runoff. His opponent in that race, slated to be held Dec. 14, will be trial attorney Tony Buzbee, who captured about 28 percent of the vote on Tuesday. Bill King, who nearly beat Turner back in 2015, received just 14 percent; Councilman Dwight Boykins got 6 percent, and former Councilwoman Sue Lovell came in sixth place with an even smaller portion of the vote. The seven other candidates split the rest.
On top of that, only four of the 16 city council positions were locked down decisively on Election Day. While District E's Dave Martin, District G's Greg Travis, District I's Robert Gallegos, and District K's Martha Castex-Tatum—all incumbents—were re-elected, the rest of the other seats are headed for runoffs next month.
The same goes for the race for the State House District 148 seat, vacated by Rep. Jessica Farrar at the end of September. Democrat Anna Eastman will face off with Republican Luis La Rotta; she got 20 percent of the vote, while he got 16.
Elsewhere, there were four seats up for grabs for Houston Independent School District's nine-member school board. The two incumbents who opted to try to keep their seats, Sergio Lira for Position 3, and current HISD Board President Diana Davila, were both voted out, while a crew of newcomers duked it out over the other two spots. However, it's likely none of this will matter much in the long run, since Texas Education Agency officials are expected to take over the struggling district entirely any day now.
One of the few things that was sorted out at the polls yesterday?
Harris County also followed statewide voting trends in approving nine of the 10 constitutional amendments on the ballot. While voters were solidly against Prop 1, which would've allowed municipal judges to hold other offices, they were on board for everything else, including the METRONext proposal—a $3.5 billion bond measure to revamp our transit system—and an amendment kicking sporting goods sales tax dollars to state parks, wildlife, and historical agencies. Voters also signed off on Prop 9, the amendment that allows an exemption for property taxes on precious metals held in Texas depositories. The vote on this one—which will allow the state legislature to okay exemptions to outfits like the Texas Bullion Depository, set to open in Leander next year—was a close one, however, squeaking by with just over 51 percent in Harris County, and 54 percent statewide.
So, as for who is going to actually be representing us—as head of the city, on the city council, and in the Texas Lege—let us reiterate that that'll be decided in a few weeks. As usual. Hopefully, the election returns process will be moving along more briskly by then. Even in an off-year election with the lower voter turnout that tends to come with it, it took election officials nearly 12 hours to actually report the final results.
And remember, y'all: While it's tempting to look at the last night's results and assume that the runoff elections will play out the same way, this will only happen if everyone who turned out this time around makes it to the polls again on Dec. 14. So, good job if you got out to vote yesterday, but your job isn't done yet.