Houston voters just approved Proposition B, which directs the City of Houston to work to obtain fair representation on an important regional transportation council, by a margin 65%-35%. It was a decisive win for proper representation and expanded democracy.
This strong ballot box victory however does not seem to impress Houston Mayoral runoff candidates Shelia Jackson Lee and John Whitmire.
From the Houston Landing:
"Houston’s two remaining candidates for mayor appear to have cooled their earlier support of local Proposition B now that it has been approved by voters and the candidates find themselves an election away from becoming the person in charge of carrying out its promise. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and state Sen. John Whitmire both endorsed the proposition to require Houston to leave the Houston-Galveston Area Council if the regional planning body fails to offer it proportional voting power. It was approved overwhelmingly Nov. 7, but in a Wednesday forum hosted by Transportation Advocacy Group – Houston, both Jackson Lee and Whitmire said the path laid by the proposition will be difficult for the city to navigate......“As it’s presently conducted, it is not the best pathway forward, but I will not rush to judgment before I assess how we can come together and have those monies distributed to ensure we’re unified as a region,” Jackson Lee told dozens of elected officials and transportation advocates.....Whitmire joked about the proposition’s promise to make the regional council more fair to Houston and argued that during upcoming negotiations the city needs to ensure it is being fair to governments in the surrounding region, as well."
If Rep. Jackson Lee and Senator Whitmire had these reservations about Proposition B, why did they both endorse it?
Maybe they both envy Prop. B's ability to turn out out a strong vote.
From the Houston Chronicle:
"In the precincts that fall in Texas Senate District 15, the district that Whitmire has represented for decades, the average turnout in the mayor's race was about 17% of registered voters..... In U.S. House District 18, the district that Jackson Lee has long represented, about 15% of registered voters turned out to vote in the mayoral race — lower than the turnout in Harris County as a whole this election cycle."
More and more, elected officials refuse to follow the directions given them in referendums and propositions. We are seeing this right now in Ohio where the state legislature is doing all it can to negate a clear 57% majority to amend the Ohio constitution to protect abortion rights.
Democracy is under siege across the country. It's exhausting to have to be at odds with the people we elect here in the most diverse city in America over the simple matter of following clear mandates from voters.
Raegardless of who is elected Mayor, it'll be up to each of us to insist that democracy prevail and Prop B is enacted in good faith by city leaders.
The Houston Democracy Project works daily to inspire, organize and strengthen pro-democracy coalitions in Houston and Harris County. The Project will continue through 2024 at the least.
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I'm Neil Aquino