January 11, 2007
It's official: We will have an election to replace Shelley

I noted this on Kuff's World yesterday, and today there's a fuller story in the Chron.

Giving up on efforts to delay the vote until November, Mayor Bill White on Thursday called a May 12 special election to fill the City Council seat that Shelley Sekula-Gibbs vacated for a brief stint in Congress.

White had hoped for a change in state law to let the city wait until November's regular election to fill the seat, avoiding a special election that he estimated could cost as much as $4 million.

As the legislative session opened this week, however, White realized that he did not have the support of Harris County legislators to push the change through.

White said at a City Council meeting Wednesday that Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said he would block the city's request.

"I disagree, and I'm disappointed," White said. "I think it's ridiculous that these dates should be set so firmly in state law. I think there ought to be more decisions made at the local level. At the same time, the law is the law."

Whitmire said elections are important, and he would not play a role in postponing one.

"The city should not arbitrarily call off an election," he said. "Sometimes democracy costs. I'm sorry about all the circumstances, but I didn't create them."

Several other Democratic elected officials and the Harris County Republican Party also supported a May election.

I agree with Mayor White that ideally there would be some more local control over this, but only if his underlying intent was for the election to have been called sooner, so that whoever wins can serve a longer term before running again in November. If he really would have preferred to put it off till November no matter what, then I disagree.

Just to recap some things, I expected the Mayor's effort to change the law to fall short. I'm not surprised that Whitmire had a big effect on the outcome. And I'd be very interested to know who else favored the May election. All I know for sure is who said they hadn't been approached by the Mayor to assist him.

Prospective candidates include Melissa Noriega, wife of state Rep. Rick Noriega; retired Air Force officer Roy Morales, who ran for an at-large position in 2005; Andy Neill, a business consultant; Noel Freeman, a city employee; and Tom Reiser, a businessman who used almost $1.2 million from his own pocket in a losing 2002 congressional race.

The filing deadline probably will be in early March, according to the city attorney's office, which is calculating the timeline.

The City Council has to pass an ordinance formally calling the election before candidates can begin raising money.

That's the same list as the one that appeared in Kristin Mack's column from Friday. Note the omission of two names that had been bandied about previously, Jay Aiyer and Nandy Berry. As you know, I'm not surprised about Aiyer. I'd heard that Berry didn't really have her heart in it either, so no shock there as well. One name that as far as I know is still in the mix is David Goldberg, whose petition effort to force the special election is obviously not needed any more.

I'll say again, I support Melissa Noriega in this election. I'll certainly be blogging about it, and I hope to do an interview with all of the candidates. I expect there will be a huge flurry of activity once City Council does its thing, so stay tuned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 11, 2007 to Election 2007

More evidence of the real cost of Tom DeLay's arrogant attempt at manipulation of our political system. Somebody needs to send him a bill for $4 million.

Posted by: Dennis on January 11, 2007 10:14 AM

David is still in it. I saw him last night, he said he was going to file today. I'm not sure on that, but that is what he said.

I'll either be supporting him or Noriega. I'm waiting for Noriega's site to pop up - I want to see what she is running on (besides her past).

Posted by: Michael Hurta on January 11, 2007 5:13 PM

Is Shelly eligible to run to replace Shelly? Just wondering...

Posted by: Michael Croft on January 12, 2007 8:20 AM

Is Shelly eligible to run to replace Shelly? Just wondering.

I'm told that the Houston City Attorney says No, but that doesn't mean she won't try to get on the ballot. It's an unprecedented situation, as is the case with so many other things associated with this saga.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 12, 2007 8:47 AM