After one of the most depressingly low election turnouts in recent memory (less than 4%), Saturday night gave the city of Houston its’ final four members of the new look Houston City Council and several Houston Community College (HCC) trustees who will take the helm, beginning 2014.
In one of the most highly controversial races of the campaign year, lobbyist Dwight Boykins beat local business owner Georgia Provost in the runoff for the District D, being vacated by the term-limited Wanda Adams.
Boykins will represent District D, which includes Third Ward, Sunnyside and South Park, and extends from the northernmost area within Midtown southward, just outside downtown to Beltway 8. It also covers the area slightly outside of Clear Lake and Pearland, a portion of the Museum District and major institutions such as Texas Southern University, Yates High School, the Texas Medical Center and the University of Houston.
Just two women will remain on the 16-member council when elected officials are sworn in January 2014.
With the departure of Adams from council due to term-limits, coupled with the runoff-election loss by Provost, the city of Houston will not have a minority female serving on Houston City Council for the first time in roughly 25 years and will not have an African-American female serving on council since Carol Mims Galloway was elected to office for District B in 1999. Currently in the city of Houston, women make up a little over 50 percent of the population, but will only account for less than 1/5th of the representation on Houston City Council come January.
In the Houston City Council At-Large 3 race, Houston bail bondsman and political activist Michael Kubosh, who became famous for leading the fight against the red-light cameras in Houston, defeated former Houston mayoral candidate and Harris County Department of Education trustee Roy Morales.
In the race to represent the East End’s District I, civic activist and Harris County jailer Robert Gallegos beat Graci Garcés, who is chief of staff for the term-limited James Rodriguez.
In a race that did not come as a political shocker to most observers, first-term At-Large Position 2 city council incumbent Andrew C. Burks Jr. found himself on the losing end to his opponent David W. Robinson. Robinson, a former city planning commissioner who was among the many candidates who ran when the seat was open two years ago, soundly defeated Burks. Burks, who ran unsuccessfully numerous times before winning the At-Large Position 2 seat two years ago, struggled to raise money and failed to rebound from his second-place finish in the November general election to Robinson.
Speaking of incumbents, it was a tough night for incumbents on all fronts.
District A City Council Incumbent Helena Brown, who defeated Brenda Stardig two years ago by a 10 point margin, was unable to repeat that feat; losing her rematch with Stardig on Saturday night by a mere 119 votes.
There were also three elections for the HCC Board, two of which featured incumbents losing their re-election bids.
Although HCC District 1 incumbent trustee Yolanda Navarro Flores was the leading vote-getter in the November general election, she was forced into a runoff and ended up losing to challenger Zeph Capo, vice president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, in what many consider an upset. Flores had a long-time and storied political career, having been a longtime HCC Trustee and former member of the Texas House of Representatives.
In the HCC District 3 runoff, incumbent Herlinda Garcia, who was appointed to the post after the resignation of Mary Ann Perez who was elected to the state House, lost to education consultant Adriana Tamez.
In the runoff for the open HCC District 5 seat, businessman Robert Glaser defeated commercial real estate agent Phil Kunetka.
With the results of this election, not only will there be no African-American female on Houston City Council, but there will also be a reduction of one African-American council member period, with the runoff-election loss of Burks.
Boykins (District D) will join C.O. Bradford (At-Large Position 4), Jerry Davis (District B) and Larry Green (District K), as the four African-Americans that will be represented on Houston City Council beginning in 2014.
The Houston Forward Times congratulates all of the Houston City Council elected officials and has huge expectations that they will represent their constituents well.