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John Whitmire Elected Houston Mayor After Stressing Public Safety

John Whitmire turned a huge war chest, a timely message on crime and distrust of his opponent into a resounding victory over Sheila Jackson Lee in the Houston mayor’s race Saturday, reports Houston Landing. The influential state senator with modest roots will take office Jan. 1 overseeing 23,000 employees serving 2.3 million residents, who have expressed unease about where the city is headling. Whitmire has promised to hire more police, settle a long-running contract dispute with firefighters, fix the streets and root out waste to ward off a fiscal cliff. He will succeed Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is term-limited.

Both candidates in the runoff were Democrats. Whitmire ran a nearly error-free campaign that tapped into voter anxiety about public safety to build a coalition of Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats. Jackson Lee, a well-known congresswoman who cast herself as the true Democrat and relied heavily on support from Black and progressive voters, never had a breakthrouigh moment. Whitmire promised to work with the firefighter and police unions, noting he had visited a police officer wounded in the line of duty on Saturday morning. Whitmire had a built-in advantage as the more moderate of the two candidates in a runoff featuring two Democrats, said Mustafa Tameez, campaign manager for former Mayor Bill White. “Having two people from the same side, Sen. Whitmire was able to build a coalition that included Democrats and Republicans and independents,” he said. In the senate, Whitmire was a leader on criminal justice issues.


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