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Houston runoff elections: Tough mayoral race as early voting starts Monday

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U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Texas Sen. John Whitmire are headlining the runoff election this year after neither cleared the required 50 percent vote mark required to be called Houston’s next mayor.

Early voting for Houston’s runoff elections kicks off next Monday. Here’s what you should know.

Early voting begins Nov. 27 and runs through Dec. 5 before the election on Dec. 9. There will be nine races on the ballot.

Mayoral race

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and State Sen. John Whitmire are headlining the runoff election this year after neither cleared the required 50 percent vote mark required to be called Houston’s next mayor.

The two led a crowded race weeks ago when final ballot counts revealed that 42 percent of voters supported Whitmire and 35 percent voted for Jackson Lee. Jackson Lee and Whitmire were quick to become headbutting contenders, rising to the top of a crowded field of mayoral candidates for their legislative experience and notable endorsements.

Their months-long heated race for the seat has stayed the subject of local and national headlines after their campaigns dished out thousand of dollars in advertisements and billboards.

Gilbert Garcia came in third place in the general election with 7.2 percent of the vote, and former city councilman Jack Christie followed with 6.9 percent of the vote.

The eight other races in the runoff are for city controller and seven of the 16 seats on the Houston City Council, including four of the five at-large positions. Here’s what else is on the runoff ballot.

Other races on the ballot

City controller – Former Harris County treasurer Orlando Sanchez against former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins

District D – Incumbent Carolyn Evans-Shabazz against Travis McGee

District G – Incumbent Mary Nan Huffman against Houston attorney Tony Buzbee

District H – Mario Castillo against Cynthia Reyes Revilla

At-large position 1 – Julian Ramirez against Melanie Miles

At-large position 2 – Willie Davis against Nick Hellyar

At-large position 3 – Richard Cantu against Twila Carter

At-large position 4 – Letitia Plummer against Roy Morales

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Houston

Historic Firefighter pay settlement and new contract win city council approval

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Houston City Council has approved a historic pay settlement and a new five-year contract for the 4,000 dedicated men and women of the Houston Fire Department. The vote marks a long-awaited victory for Houston firefighters, ending the disrespect and legal challenges and beginning the process of returning the HFD to a world-class department with adequate staffing and equipment.

“This is a historic day! I urge Houston firefighters and their families to relish this well-deserved victory. For eight long years, you have persevered through immense challenges while continuing to protect and serve our community,” said Patrick M. ‘Marty’ Lancton, President of the HPFFA. “Today’s vote by City Council is not just a resolution of past grievances; it’s recognition of our sacrifices and a commitment to providing the resources needed to continue serving Houston with dedication and pride.”

Houston City Council stalls vote on Fire Department contract – Houston  Public Media

The settlement includes provisions for back pay owed to firefighters, addressing a contentious issue that has strained labor relations for nearly a decade. The new five-year collective bargaining agreement provides pay hikes, significant improvements in working conditions, enhanced benefits, a renewed focus on recruitment and retention, and mental health support — a crucial component given firefighting’s stressful and demanding nature. The landmark deal underscores the core tenets of what it means to be a Houston firefighter: delivering excellent service, being good stewards of city resources, and giving back to the community.

“We owe a profound debt of gratitude to Mayor Whitmire for his steadfast commitment to bringing this ordeal to a close,” said Lancton. “He made a promise, and he has fulfilled it. His support and public recognition of Houston firefighters and the job they do are bolstering morale and helping to mend years of distrust. We eagerly anticipate further collaboration as we strive to enhance firefighting and emergency services for Houstonians.”

Firefighters will receive their back pay in July. The new five-year contract is effective with the start of the city’s new fiscal year on July 1, 2024.

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Houston

Council Member Abbie Kamin Honored by Greater Houston LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce

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Greater Houston LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce is honoring City of Houston Council Member Abbie Kamin with the Chamber Champion Award at the fourth annual Pride In Business Celebration & Awards Luncheon, which recognizes the contributions made by Chamber members, Impact Partners, and other key stakeholders in building a more diverse and inclusive business community. The awards spotlight deserving companies and individuals and showcase their impactful work to support the LGBTQ+ community.

Council Member Abbie Kamin received the Chamber Champion Award, a designation earned by a strong advocate for the Chamber committed to advancing prosperity for our LGBTQ+ community.  “I’ve had the privilege to work alongside the Chamber and see firsthand the incredible partnerships they foster for our LGBTQIA+ community and businesses. I am extremely moved by this award and what it represents.” said Council Member Kamin. “Business is the backbone of our thriving city and can make a difference when it comes to fighting back against the unacceptable discrimination and bigotry our LGBTQIA+ community is facing. I will always stand with our LGBTQIA+ businesses and families, and thank the Chamber for this prestigious honor.”

“Council Member Kamin has been a longtime advocate and champion for the LGBTQ+ community. She is a partner with the Chamber on the Show Your Pride campaign and supported the Chamber’s efforts to make Houston the first city in Texas to recognize LGBTQ+ owned businesses in City of Houston contracting,” said Tammi Wallace, Co-Founder, President & CEO, Greater Houston LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce.  “In 2022, she created the Families with Pride festival to celebrate love, inclusivity, and all families, and she was recognized as the Ally Grand Marshal for the Pride Parade in 2021. It’s for these reasons and more that the Chamber is proud to recognize her as an outstanding champion and ally of the LGBTQ+ community.”

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Community

Council Member Thomas Hosts Swim & Water Safety Seminar

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As temperatures soar into the high 90s, Council Member Tiffany D. Thomas is bringing her “Summer of Safety” initiative to the pool. Pools offer a refreshing escape from the heat, but they also come with inherent risks. According to the latest U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the CDC report, there is an annual average of 389 pool or spa-related fatal drownings and 6,300 nonfatal drowning injuries among children under 15. Alarmingly, 73% of these fatalities and 80% of the injuries involve children under five. Tragically, as recent as June 1st of this year, a 5-year-old girl drowned in a pool in the Westchase area of District F.
“This speaks to the overall importance of why we need to make sure that our families, young people, and adults have the tools they need in order to swim,” said Council Member Thomas.
Launched in 2023, the “Summer of Safety” initiative is returning with enhanced programming. This year’s events continue to focus on the health and safety of young residents in District F, aiming to improve the quality of life for all constituents in the district and across Houston.
The “Summer of Safety” initiative kicks off with a Swim and Water Safety Seminar at the Alief Neighborhood Center Pool. Hosted by Council Member Thomas in collaboration with Houston Waves, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and Coach CPR LLC., the seminar will feature a beginner’s swimming class and essential pool safety guidelines.
This event is a prime opportunity to update, educate, and empower the community with the knowledge that swimming skills and pool safety are crucial at any age.
Event Details:
WHAT: Swim & Water Safety Seminar
WHEN: Saturday, June 15 and Saturday, July 13, 2024, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
WHERE: The Alief Neighborhood Center Pool, 11903 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX 77072
WHO: Tiffany D. Thomas, Houston City Council Member for District F, and a staunch advocate for quality of life and public safety; Moms, Dads, kids, and adults enjoying the first summer in the new Alief Neighborhood Pool.
WHY: There are approximately 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings each year, which averages to about 11 drowning deaths per day. Additionally, there are around 8,000 nonfatal drownings annually, resulting in an average of 22 nonfatal drownings per day.

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