HOUSTON (AP) — Houston elected Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire as its subsequent mayor on Saturday night time, elevating a Texas lawmaker who has represented town for 50 years by giving him a victory over U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in a runoff.

Whitmire, 74, who’s one among Texas’ strongest Democratic legislators, will now be on the helm of America’s fourth-largest metropolis. His marketing campaign centered on lowering crime, bettering streets and bringing folks collectively. He closely outspent Jackson Lee, who was working to change into Houston’s first Black feminine mayor.

The congresswoman’s marketing campaign additionally needed to take care of fallout from the discharge in October of an unverified audio recording that presupposed to seize her profanely berating workers.

Whitmire constructed an insurmountable lead amongst early voters, profitable amongst these voters by 30 proportion factors.

Standing earlier than a ballroom filled with cheering supporters within the metropolis’s conference middle, Whitmire mentioned he was fired up and able to go to work as mayor.

“I don’t thoughts telling of us what a fantastic metropolis now we have. However we’ve received nice challenges. If we’ll come collectively and notice it gained’t be straightforward. In reality, we’ll face challenges. However I see that as a chance. And I would like you to hitch fingers with me. We’ll meet our challenges. It’ll be a chance to point out the nation what town of Houston can do,” Whitmire mentioned.

At her election night time celebration, Jackson Lee thanked her supporters, congratulated Whitmire and mentioned she was dedicated to working with him. Jackson Lee mentioned she deliberate to announce within the close to future a choice on whether or not she would run for re-election subsequent yr for her congressional seat.

“It’s sweeter to be saying what a candy victory it’s. It is equally as candy to acknowledge we put up a superb combat,” Jackson Lee mentioned.

Whitmire and Jackson Lee had made it to Saturday’s runoff after rising from a crowded area of almost 20 candidates in the Nov. 7 general election.

Each candidates — two of Houston’s greatest political fixtures — touted their decades-long political expertise as sturdy {qualifications} to steer a rising metropolis facing challenges that include crime, crumbling infrastructure and potential finances shortfalls.

Whitmire began within the Texas Legislature in 1973, first as a state consultant and nearly all of his time as a state senator. Jackson Lee has represented Houston in Congress since 1995 and earlier than that had served on Houston’s Metropolis Council.

Booming development during the last decade has precipitated municipal complications however has additionally turned the Houston space into an increasing stronghold for Texas Democrats. Though the mayoral race is nonpartisan, Whitmire and Jackson Lee are each Democrats.

Whitmire would be the oldest large metropolis mayor within the U.S. He’s set to steer a metropolis which is changing into youthful, with a median age of round 35 and with 25% of its inhabitants beneath 18, in response to census figures.

The selection between Whitmire and Jackson Lee, who’s 73, pissed off some Democratic voters, notably youthful ones, at a time when the celebration is trying to find new political stars in Texas who may finish 30 years of GOP dominance statewide.

The brand new mayor must take care of new legal guidelines from the GOP-led state authorities over control of local elections and the flexibility to impose local regulations.

Whitmire will substitute Mayor Sylvester Turner, who has served eight years and might’t run once more due to time period limits.

Whitmire may also lead what is taken into account one of many nation’s most numerous cities. Of town’s 2.3 million residents, 45% are Latino, with 23% Black and 24% white. One in each 4 Houston residents was born outdoors the U.S.

Generally known as the vitality capital of the world, Houston’s financial system has lengthy been tied primarily to the oil business. However the metropolis is working to change into a pacesetter within the transition to cleaner energy. Like different giant U.S. cities, Houston can also be coping with an absence of reasonably priced housing and issues amongst residents over rising gaps between the wealthy and poor.


Observe Juan A. Lozano on X, previously generally known as Twitter: twitter.com/juanlozano70

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