Houston’s quarrelsome municipal election came to an end last night following a spar-filled campaign season. After coming in first in November’s runoff, former State Rep. Sylvester Turner edged out Bill King earning 51 percent of the vote becoming Houston’s next mayor.

Before the polls closed on Election Day, President Obama released his endorsement for Turner. Turner’s camp promoted the endorsement almost reluctantly and without much fanfare. It may have played a role in drawing more conservatives out making this race even closer than anticipated.

Just as important was the race for city controller. Deputy Controller Chris Brown took the race after getting 53 percent of the vote. Brown has served under outgoing controller Ron Green since Green’s days as a council member. Green’s tenure as chief watchdog has been relatively unnoticeable, tending to take the role as lapdog of Mayor Parker. Hopefully Houston will see a change with Brown’s administration.

In city council district races one incumbent, Richard Nguyen, lost to Steve Le in District F. Another incumbent, Mike Laster, easily won reelection in District J, and in District H’s open race, Karla Cisneros won.

For the citywide seats, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility endorsed candidate Mike Knox won with 51 percent of the vote in At-Large 1, and incumbent David Robinson won in At-Large 2. At-Large 4 went to former Sheila Jackson Lee staffer Amanda Edwards, and incumbent Jack Christie pulled off a majority in At-Large 5.

Rounding out the city’s municipal races were two races for HISD School Board. Embattled incumbent Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones easily won reelection over Larry Williams, and another incumbent, Manny Rodriguez won his reelection.

Most of the races were almost evenly split down the middle and signals that Houstonians are largely divided on the course they want to chart for their city. The decisions ahead in next few years will be vital in shaping Houston’s long-term future.

One of the first major problems that will plague Turner’s administration will be the looming $126 million deficit. Turner is sure to be battle tested in the coming months – hopefully Houstonians benefit from the outcome.

But, as with outgoing Mayor Parker, Turner has made it clear that even with the city’s pressing financial problems, he has his own agenda. His promises include increasing minimum wage, lobbying for an open carry exemption within city limits, and amending or repealing the voter imposed revenue cap.

With Houston having passed a change to term limits in November, Mayor-elect Turner is expected to serve for four years. Taxpayers, more than ever, must get informed and involved to make sure they have a say in the direction of the Bayou City’s future.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.

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