HOUSTON – Houston voters elected Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire as its next mayor, giving him a victory over U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in the runoff. However, in another race closely watched by Aldine residents, Richard Cantu was not able to win a City Council at-large seat, defeated in a very close race by Twila Carter. Cantu received 83,715 votes, and Carter 86,386. In the Mayoral race, Whitmire received 128,908 votes, versus Jackson- Lee’s total of 68,633. The election was not well supported. Only 197,541 or 16.9% of 1,172,118 registered voters bothered to go to the polls, even though a Mayoral race is of great importance locally.

Whitmire, 74, who is one of Texas’ most powerful Democratic legislators, will now be at the helm of America’s fourth-largest city. His campaign focused on reducing crime, improving streets and bringing people together. He heavily outspent Jackson Lee, who was running to become Houston’s first Black female mayor.

The congresswoman’s campaign also had to deal with fallout from the release in October of an unverified audio recording that purported to capture her profanely berating her staff.

Whitmire built an insurmountable lead among early voters, winning among those voters by 30 percentage points.

Standing before a ballroom full of cheering supporters in the city’s convention center, Whitmire said he was fired up and ready to go to work as mayor.

“I don’t mind telling folks what a great city we have. But we’ve got great challenges. If we will come together and realize it won’t be easy. In fact, we will face challenges. But I see that as an opportunity. And I need you to join hands with me. We’ll meet our challenges. It’ll be an opportunity to show the nation what the city of Houston can do,” Whitmire said.

In another races of local interest, the City Controller position was won by Chris Hollins with 58.6% of the vote, versus Orland Sanchez 41.4% of the vote.

At her election night party, Jackson Lee thanked her supporters, congratulated Whitmire, and said she was committed to working with him. Jackson Lee said she planned to announce in the near future a decision on whether she would run for re-election next year for her congressional seat. A number of local politicians have expressed an interest, if she decides not to run.