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



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.


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.

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



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’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner at the FITCC Event – Spectacular Photos



Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner, attended the Fidelity International Trade & Creative Connect (FITCC) conference where he gave an opening speech emphasizing the significance of hosting such a global event in the fourth-largest city in the United States. October 24-25, Fidelity Bank Plc. Nigeria premiered this international trade and creative fair attracting the brightest minds and industry leaders to explore the ever-evolving landscape of international trade, exports, and creative connections.

Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner is being introduced to Mustafa Chike-Obi, Chairman of Fidelity Bank Nigeria by event facilitator, Linda Anukwuem.

Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner is being introduced to the President of Afreximbank, Professor Benedict Oramah

To Mayor Turner, this event meant so much to his administrative agenda regarding global commerce. For instance, he just led a three-country trade mission to West Africa. He will out-serve his tenure next month, making this event his last endeavor to strengthen the City’s business ties with Africa.

Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner greets the President of Afreximbank, Professor Benedict Oramah

Houston is designated as a hub for international commerce, known as the energy capital of the world, and a global leader in healthcare, aeronautics, advanced manufacturing, and innovation. Besides having the largest Nigerian population in the country, the city remains the most diverse, with over 2.5 million residents. The city also holds the largest port in the U.S. in foreign tonnage, two international airports, and the largest medical center in the world. In addition, more than 5,000 Houston companies are engaged in international business, and approximately 1,000 Houston firms report foreign ownership.

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Voters are turning out early for Houston mayoral race



More than two weeks before Election Day for the Houston mayoral race, some local voters headed to the polls in an attempt to beat the crowd.

Early voting started Monday in Harris County, where more than 60 poll locations are open. The early voting period for the city elections runs through Nov. 3, with Election Day on Nov. 7.

“I prefer to come early because when it comes the day, it’s too much people,” said voter Olimipia Rodriguez, who was among the early voters Monday. “And right now it’s better for me.”

There are 17 candidates on the ballot for the mayor’s race. Texas Sen. John Whitmire and U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee are the frontrunners, according to a recent survey by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston.

This year’s city elections also include races for city council seats and city controller, along with a series of local and statewide propositions on the ballot.

Amos Daniels, who voted Monday morning at the Kashmere Gardens Multi-Service Center on Lockwood Drive, said she wants the next mayor to have accountability and felt that it’s been lacking during Mayor Sylvester Turner’s tenure in office, which began in 2016.

“It would be nice if these politicians would do what they say they’re going to do,” Daniels said. “[When] Sylvester Turner came in talking about he was going to be the pothole mayor and he was going to fix all the potholes and everything. Well, I live out in this area and one day I hit a pothole. He didn’t do what he said he’s going to do.”

Daniels said that she will vote for the candidate she believes can be transparent during their tenure in the mayor’s office.

“They just need to do what they say they’re going to do,” Daniels said. “They all come in with agendas. They all band together.”

METRO, the region’s transit provider, is providing free round-trip service to the polls through the early voting period and on Election Day. Voters just need to inform the bus operator or fare inspector that they are going to or returning from the polls.

Voters must have one of seven acceptable forms of photo identification in order to vote.

Voters can still request a mail-in ballot through Oct. 27. They must be completed and sent in by Nov. 7.

Culled from the Houston Public Media

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