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Mayoral Game Changer —Why Nigerians Are Embracing John Whitmire for Houston’s Next Mayor

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There are substantial reasons why this community is channeling its entire support to Sen. Whitmire. Mayor Brown’s endorsement may have triggered a wave of support and interest in the candidate by Africans and African Americans. Yet, there might be more reasons.

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The last time major African communities, dominated by Nigerians, united to support a mayoral candidate was during the electioneering campaign that ushered in the first African-American mayor of Houston, Dr. Lee Patrick Brown. Mayor Brown was re-elected twice to serve a maximum of three terms from 1998 to 2004. In each reelection bid, Africans campaigned vigorously on his behalf.   

Electioneering candidates for Houston elections can always count on the Nigerian community when it comes to grassroots poll support. The likes of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, outgoing mayor Sylvester Turner, Congressman Al Green, former Mayor Brown, and a long list of others have enjoyed such unprecedented support from the Nigerian community.  

Nigerians in Houston celebrating the Nigeria Independence Day. The Nigerians in Houston (NIH) for John Whitmire are rallying Nigerians and other African communities to galvanize city-wide support for Sen. Whitmire.

Consequently, in the upcoming mayoral race, some African community leaders are rallying decisive support for Houston’s Mayoral Candidate, John Whitmire. Led by business owners and community advocates, including Tony Nwadei, Ike Anya, Sylvan Odobulu, and Suzani Asmelash Grant, a group called Nigerians in Houston (NIH) for John Whitmire has concluded strategies for a grassroots vote-mobilization for the candidate. For weeks, they met day and night through both face-to-face collaborative meetings and Zoom. Now they are ready to hit the campaign ground and it appears they are not kidding.

There are substantial reasons why this community is channeling its entire support to Sen. Whitmire. Mayor Brown’s endorsement may have triggered a wave of support and interest in the candidate by Africans and African Americans. Yet, there might be more reasons.

Predominantly successful entrepreneurs, these prominent Nigerian community leaders, and influencers have always rallied financial and field support for candidates with vested interests in collaborating with the populace for development opportunities. Unfortunately, the community remains the least to be considered in significant matters of the government. An International Guardian’s previous editorial cited how most of those leaders visit the African communities to attend events and take photos with excited guests whereas significant matters of governance are totally snubbed. For instance, Mayor Turner just concluded a controversial trip to Africa where he spent only one day in Nigeria – Africa’s most populous country and the United States’ most viable trade partner in the continent. To make it unacceptably ridiculous, no Nigerian made his long list of delegates.

Consequently, in August 2022, Mayor Turner hosted the City’s first-ever Houston-Africa Energy Summit, featuring African Heads of State, African Ministers, Houston-based energy CEOs, and business leaders from the African continent and the Greater Houston Area. Unfortunately, and more disappointedly, Nigeria, Africa’s largest crude oil producer was not represented at this event.

 

 

“That was ridiculous,” said John Oladapo Awoola, an oil and gas entrepreneur based in Houston and Lagos. I actually read about that event on the Internet, and I tell you that these folks are taking us for granted. How can this City host such a conference without fairly engaging those that matter?”, he said. He continued, “It boils down to aligning ourselves with leaders that respect our interests, not those that would come here to party with us.”

Nigeria remained the leading oil producer in Africa as of 2022. Oil production amounted to roughly 69 million metric tons in the country. Libya, Algeria, and Angola followed, each with an above 50 million metric tons output. In the same year, the overall production of oil in Africa, including crude oil, shale oil, oil sands, and NGLs, reached 332.3 million metric tons, 3.76 percent less than in 2021. Therefore, any meaningful city leadership must be familiar with these trends.

“We are looking for something very different this time,” said a Houston-based Nigerian healthcare worker, Ephraim who identified himself as a Whitmire supporter. “We are sick and tired of our politicians coming here to take photos with us. I have lots of photos taken with the Jackson-Lees, the Turners, Garcias, and so on. Honestly, I am now realizing that those are completely unimportant. We need those who would take us seriously. If you go to Bellaire and Sharpstown, you see how they pay much attention to the Asian communities – then when you come to Bissonnette, all you see is crime and prostitution. We want solutions. What drove me away from Jackson Lee to Sen. Whitmire was Whitmire’s position on fighting crime. You won’t understand until you come to the Bissonnet area where we have our businesses,” he said.

 

Mayor Brown’s endorsement may have triggered a wave of support and interest in the candidate by Africans and African Americans. Yet, there might be more reasons.

Africans in Houston, especially in the Southwest are concerned about an alarming crime rate. Not just crime – they are also dealing with street prostitution, which has persisted for years unchallenged. As chair of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, who has championed strong, anti-crime measures, Sen. Whitmire has vowed to increase the number of police officers on the street and strengthen Houston’s Community Policing Program while keeping violent criminals behind bars and illegal guns off the streets.

The consistent governance lapses and the scorn of the African community, in general, are what inspired the Nigerians in Houston (NIH) for John Whitmire. The purpose according to handlers, is to rally around Nigerians and other African communities to galvanize city-wide support for Sen. Whitmire. They are raising funds, they are gathering volunteers to walk the streets, and they have vowed to carry their campaign beyond the electoral finishing lines.

The last time there was a major collaboration between the City of Houston and the African community was during Mayor Brown’s regime. He was not interested in coming to social events and taking photos but focused on economic empowerment and development possibilities. Nigerians and members of other African countries were appointed to key city government positions and parastatals. In addition, Mayor Brown’s trip to Africa was economically lucrative. He didn’t go for sightseeing. He took business folks who invested in the continent. 

This might explain why his endorsement of Sen. Whitmire inspired a population of African and African-American voters into action. Brown in his own words, stated, “As Houston’s first African-American police chief and mayor, I am proud to endorse Senator John Sen. Whitmire to be Houston’s next mayor… He was always someone I could count on to help, whether it was during my campaigns or during my tenure in office. Sen. Whitmire has always fought for public safety and equality. I will be voting for Senator Sen. Whitmire for mayor, and I ask all Houstonians to join me.”

Whitmire, who served as a State Representative for 10 years and State Senator for 40, has vowed to promote the growth of minority and women-owned businesses, ensure that historically forgotten neighborhoods receive desired services, protect the laws and ordinances that encourage diversity and equity, and create strategies to facilitate an open dialogue with people from all parts of our city to truly understand their concerns.

The Nigerians in Houston (NIH) for Sen. Whitmire, armed with a constructive message about how this candidate will make a difference, not just in Houston but also in the African community, has taken their gospel to the streets to woo voters. They are rallying community leaders and influencers not just to vote for their candidate but also to work the polls. “We did it for Mayor Brown, and it worked for our businesses and families, and we are ready to do it for Sen. Whitmire,” said Thankgod, a Nigerian entrepreneur who owns a real estate company.

Currently, it appears all fingers point to Sen. Whitmire as Houston’s next mayor. In the latest poll conducted by the Hobby School Survey of the University of Houston, the race will be close, with about one-third of likely voters opting to vote for state Sen. Whitmire whereas another third expecting to vote for U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. However, in the event of a runoff in December, the gap widens dramatically, with Sen. Whitmire holding an 18-point lead in a one-to-one matchup.

Texas Guardian News

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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