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Crucial election set for Saturday with Houston mayoral runoff



As the city of Houston headed into the final week before the runoff election for mayor, an ad for one of the contenders, Rep. Sheila Jackson Leeurged city residents to “vote on or before December 7th.” There was one problem: The runoff election is on Sat., Dec. 9 and the early voting period ended on Dec. 5.

Jackson Lee’s office quickly pulled the ad, telling Houston Public Media that it debuted Saturday and ran on the local ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates but had been created by an outside ad agency, not the campaign.

The erroneous ad and even the lack of knowledge about the date of the election seemed to sum up everything happening so far in the mayoral race in America’s fourth-largest city — limping ahead to a low turnout outcome in what is the last major election of 2023.

Jackson Lee, a 30-year veteran of Congress, is trailing in polls to state Sen. John Whitmire, who has had more than 50 years in public service. The two were the top two vote-getters in the Nov. 7 general election, which had 17 candidates on the ballot and a write-in candidate. Whitmire, 74, received 43% of the vote to 36% for Jackson Lee, 73. About 21% of Houston’s 1.2 million registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 7 election, according to The Associated Press. The current mayor, Sylvester Turner, is term-limited.

“It’s been a pretty sleepy race so far,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a professor of political science at the University of Houston. “We’ve seen mayor’s races in the past that have had a lot more fireworks, a lot more partisanship. This has been a race that frankly hasn’t really caught the voters’ attention.”

Since the Nov. election, the numbers haven’t moved much. A SurveyUSA Research poll on behalf of the University of Houston conducted in mid-November found Whitmire leading Jackson Lee 42% to 35%.

The race is considered nonpartisan, but both Whitmire and Jackson Lee are Democrats. Jackson Lee has pulled out major endorsements, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clintonformer House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. But, as Rottinghaus pointed out, the big-time endorsements haven’t managed to move the needle.

Whitmire, meanwhile, has boasted of some big-time local support, including Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvaleformer Houston City Councilman Jack Christie, who ran as a Republican in the first round, and Republican megadonor Tilman Fertitta.

Houston is considered America’s most diverse large city, so winning the mayor’s office means winning a coalition of voters.

Turner’s victory in 2015 by just two points over a conservative businessman was driven in large part by Black voters and get-out-the-vote efforts, according to the Houston Chronicle. Jackson Lee, who, if elected, would be the city’s first Black female mayor,  has not managed to galvanize Black voters the same way, Rottinghaus said. In the precincts with high numbers of Black voters, the voting numbers are way down, Rottinghaus said.

Although Whitmire has touted his Democratic party credentials, he also courted Republican support and has multiple large GOP donors backing him. The University of Houston poll showed him with a 56-point advantage among Republicans. While Houston leans Democratic, the city is not as much a Democratic stronghold as other large U.S. cities, and the Republican vote could be crucial to winning. Republicans also have complete control over the state government, with a GOP governor and majorities in both the Legislature and state Senate.

Whitmire, who is White, has also courted the Latino vote, and the University of Houston poll showed him with a 20-point advantage among Latino voters, who make up roughly 45% of the city’s population.

Although Houston is a young city, the average age of the Houstonian voter is 62, according to Rottinghaus. The major local issue has been crime, and both candidates said in the final debate on Monday that they would keep Police Chief Troy Finner.

With the two candidates so close on many of the issues, the race has had some slugfest.

Two weeks before the general election, audio was leaked where Jackson Lee appeared to berate a staffer with profanity. “I know I am not perfect,” she said in a statement in response. As Rottinghaus noted, they added a poll question in November about the leaked audio, and while most people said it didn’t make a difference, a “sizeable percentage” said it did. Those people tended to be younger and in particular, younger women — two groups that Jackson Lee needs to win.

In addition to the leaked audio, Jackson Lee goes into the runoff election with high unfavorables. An October poll from the Hobby School at the University of Houston found that 43% said they would never vote for her compared to 15% who said they would never vote for Whitmire. In the same poll, 41% said they had a “very unfavorable” view of Jackson Lee with 28% having a “very favorable” view, compared to 13% reporting a “very unfavorable” view of Whitmire while 27% said they had a “very favorable” view.

But Whitmire has been dogged by allegations of conflict of interest as a state senator. According to the Houston Chronicle, Whitmire has been accused of blurring the line between public and private roles. Whitmire has maintained that the Legislature is part-time and has a salary of $7,200 a year, making avoiding conflicts of interest impossible.

“The major difference is when I’m mayor, I’ll be a full-time mayor. I won’t have a law practice,” Whitmire said at the debate earlier this week. “A bunch of the Chronicle issues I could dispute but it’s not necessary. It involved the practice of law. Most of those allegations arrived in previous campaigns. We make $600 a month as a senator. … You have to have civilian jobs, that’s where most of that was arrived at.”

Harris County, which includes Houston, has been targeted with state audits in 2022 and 2023 over voting and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law this year that removed Harris County’s elections administrator and transferred the responsibility to other local officials. This election has been the first election with the new system.

Culled from CBS

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Otu-Umuokpu Anambra USA in Houston Gets New Leadership  



Houston – TX: The Otu-Umuokpu Anambra USA Association Inc., Headquartered in Houston, Texas, has inaugurated its new executive leadership. An election was held in November 2023 where a set of new executive leadership emerged and was officially sworn-in on February 4, 2024.

Adaeze Stella Icon Adeone Samuel ( Stainless) is now the group’s new President, whereas Adaeze Nkiruka Mbonu ( Mmili doluedo) is the  Vice President.  Former President, Adaeze Dr Maria Elioku (Nkpulunma) remains the President Emeritus. A complete list of the new executive board members will be available on the group’s website, it was gathered.

While welcoming the new leadership team, President Emeritus Dr. Elioku thanked the outgoing executives for their impeccable service during their tenure. “As we all know, our mission as Otu- Umuokpu Anambra, USA Association is to promote and uphold our welfare and culture as well as foster unity, love, and harmony among us; and I am glad that within the past years, we were able to curtail distracting challenges to uphold those values,” she said.

Otu- Umuokpu Anambra, USA Association is a community of all paternal daughters of Anambra State of Nigeria with the core mission to promote and uphold the welfare and culture of her members; and foster unity, love, and harmony among them. The group has since its inception shared the uniformity of their ancestry as a unifying tool for community development and bonding of sisterhood.

For more information about Otu-Umuokpu Anambra, USA Association, Inc., please call 832-640-6329 or click to visit their website >>>>

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Empowerment Conference ULTRA 2024 Returns to Houston February 3rd



HOUSTON, Texas (January 22nd, 2024) – This coming February, Houstonians are invited to ring in the second month of the year with an empowerment conference that aims to keep attendees on track, accountable, and fully engaged to exceed their personal goals in 2024. The ULTRA Conference 2024 (presented by Ultrashift, Inc., a Houston-area based non-profit organization, and hosted by leadership practitioner and author Dr. Harry Akintola) will take place on Saturday, February 3rd at ACF Center (2204 Sharpview Drive) in west Houston.

As citizens worldwide continue to merge into the new year and prepare for February, their hopes of maintaining new resolutions and goals for career, financial, spiritual, and physical advancement often begin to see signs of inconsistency and shakiness. For Dr. Akinola, that is often the sweet spot and perfect timing to teach individuals and organizations how to master their minds and consciousness to yield prosperity. Since its inception in 2009, ULTRA Conference has impacted the lives of thousands and has hosted this event in many cities around the world, including South Africa (Johannesburg and Cape Town), the United Kingdom (London), Nigeria (Lagos), and Tanzania (Dar es Salaam).

According to event organizers, “Ultra 2024 promises to be an immersive ‘inspiritainment’ experience, driving home the point that the future is not something to be passively anticipated but actively shaped.” All of this year’s conference speakers and panelists are award-winning presenters and specialists from across various industries. Presenters and panelists for this year’s conference include keynote speaker and host Dr. Harry Akinola, JP Morgan Chase Head of CCB Talent Roti Balogun, Zeitios AI/ML Consulting CEO Iyanuoluwa Odebode, Ph.D, Wazobia Market Founder & CEO Tunde Fasina, Hampton HGDS Real Estate Investment Trust CEO Candra Brown, Fairdale Realty & Gazette Mortgage President & CEO Victor Lofinmakin, and Transformational Coach Jimi Tewe.

The conference will be sanctioned into a five-part session each dedicated to a range of topics and interactive activities, including Future-Ready Skills (exploring the critical skills necessary for thriving in tomorrow’s job market and how to acquire them), Embracing AI (a deep dive into practical strategies for integrating artificial intelligence into your business model and career, ensuring you stay ahead of the technological curve), Local & Global Business Strategies (gaining  invaluable insights into Houston’s dynamic business environment as a model for development and learning how to leverage  these strategies on a global scale), Citizenry in Action (learning how civic engagement and personal discipline can become powerful tools for societal change and individual success), Diverse Intelligence (discover how balancing the four intelligences can lead to a more satisfying and successful life), with strategic interactive breakout and networking sessions integrated into all  phases of the conference experience.

As an accomplished corporate executive who has headed up several learning and leadership development organizations in many multinational firms (including Standard Bank, Puma Energy and Chase Bank where he currently serves as Executive Director – Head of Talent, Business Banking), Dr. Akinola hopes that individuals will gain momentum and discipline to follow through on every endeavor set for their lives. “Like a butterfly’s journey from larva to flight, you cannot attain or achieve without first transforming. Ultra 2024 – Re-Imagine Your Future is more than an inspirational and educational conference,” said Dr. Akinola. “It’s an experience, a catalyst for introspection, a reawakening of thought, and a reset of aspirations, guiding you to become, empowering you to do, to have, and to soar towards your envisioned future.” Registration for this year’s conference is now open to the general public. To learn more about the ULTRA Conference 2024 and to register, please visit the official website online at, or follow Dr. Harry Akinola on Instagram at Harry Akinola (@HarryAkinola)

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Council Member Kamin Appointed to Lead National League of Cities’ Large Cities Council



City of Houston Council Member Abbie Kamin has been appointed Vice-Chair of the National League of Cities (NLC) Large Cities Council. Council Member Kamin was elected to a one-year term to develop and guide programs among local elected officials from similar communities. NLC President Mayor-Elect David Sander of Rancho Cordova, CA announced the appointment.

“I look forward to serving not only Houston, but all of NLC as we bring together our nation’s largest cities in the spirit of partnership, collaboration, and action,” says Council Member Kamin. “I thank NLC and President Mayor-Elect Sander for appointing me as Vice-Chair. We’re ready to get to work!”

As a member of NLC’s Large Cities Council, Council Member Kamin will play a key role among a diverse group of local leaders to encourage collaboration, networking, and the development of resources and programs beneficial to communities that share demographics, size or location that can be replicated across the country.

“Our member councils play an integral role in NLC’s work, bringing local leaders together to share ideas and inform NLC policy about the issues and challenges facing every kind of community in America,” said NLC President Mayor-Elect David Sander of Rancho Cordova, CA. “I’m excited to have Council Member Kamin serve on NLC’s Large Cities Council. The council will ensure that all of our cities, towns and villages have access to ideas and resources they can use to thrive.”

The leadership of this year’s council will consist of Chair Adam Bazaldua, Council Member, Dallas, TX; Vice Chair Wardine Alexander, Council President Pro Tem, Birmingham, AL; and Vice Chair Abbie Kamin, Council Member, Houston, TX.

Kamin also serves on NLC’s Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee where she continues to advocate alongside members for sustainable and resilient solutions for cities.

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