Endorsement watch: Hellyar and Evans-Shabazz

The Chron endorses Nick Hellyar in At Large #2 in a piece that mostly praises other candidates in the race.

Nick Hellyar

Houston voters have a clear top-flight candidate in the race for City Council At-Large Position 2.

Nick Hellyar, 41, has received endorsements from Democrats and Republicans, from the police union and LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, and from this editorial board four years ago when he ran unsuccessfully for a City Council at-large position. He’s a realtor who ran constituent services for former Councilmember James Rodriguez and district director for then-state Rep. Carol Alvarado. Pragmatic and focused on two top issues on voters’ minds — public safety and infrastructure — Hellyar could be a great partner for our next mayor, who may have limited experience in city government. Deep knowledge of how to get things done at City Hall will be all the more valuable.

Then again, this race features several other excellent candidates, including two who have also earned our endorsements in previous elections.

Holly Flynn Vilaseca, 42, served on the Houston ISD board during its nuclear meltdown phase, but her own role was mostly constructive and we backed her reelection. Her battle scars from that time could actually be useful: she could explain to her colleagues what happens when leaders abandon decorum and ethics. In addition, having worked as a bilingual pre-kindergarten teacher in Houston ISD — her mother immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia — Flynn Vilaseca could aid city government in better engaging Spanish-speaking residents.

Danielle Keys Bess, a 39-year-old real estate agent, has worked for the campaigns of several Texas Democrats. She earned our endorsement for a state representative race last year, but lost to Jolanda Jones in a runoff. When we met with candidates for this City Council race, she impressed us again with her ability to inspire while explaining policy clearly. She spoke about her own neighborhood, Riverside Terrace, as a “beacon” of “what opportunity looks like” for African Americans. Could she help more Houstonians become homeowners? The city blew a historic opportunity to use $60 million in federal relief dollars after Hurricane Harvey to build single-family housing. Her expertise in real estate, matching buyers with affordable options, could help right that ship, or at least avoid future failures.

They also said nice things about Marina Coryat and Obes Nwabara, and noted that Willie Davis didn’t bother to show up for the screening. I interviewed the five who did:

Nick Hellyar
Obes Nwabara
Danielle Bess
Holly Vilaseca
Marina Coryat

Over in District D, the Chron endorses the incumbent, CM Carolyn Evans-Shabazz.

CM Carolyn Evans-Shabazz

The four-mile Columbia Tap Trail that runs through Third Ward has been a source of recreation, exercise and frustration for many in the community. When the concrete path was put in along the route of a former rail line in 2014, it was lacking much of the real hardware and amenities that make a hike and bike trail safe and enjoyable.

Since then, it’s been a sore spot, an “afterthought” as resident and writer Joy Sewing described it earlier this year. Finally, in October, City Councilmember Carolyn Evans-Shabazz allocated $100,000 for improvements, supplemented by $50,000 from the Houston Housing Authority. But the promised safety upgrades stalled in bureaucratic limbo while rashes of burglaries and assaults plagued the trail.

“It just has to happen,” Evans-Shabazz, 69, told us. The holdup seems to be a question of long-term maintenance, and which department would take that on but the councilmember told us she’d lean on the mayor to get it done before he leaves office.

And maybe before she has to leave as well.

There are several people vying to take her place on City Council, including two names that will be familiar to many in the district that includes Third Ward and Sunnyside. Travis McGee, 49, owns a barbershop, leads two combined civic clubs and has been at the center of high-profile protests in the area, including against the proposal to build a new Sunnyside multi-service center on a former dump and the state takeover of Houston ISD. Georgia Provost, 82, is a former educator and a veritable institution in the community, part of Provost Studios, the portrait studio opened by her late husband that celebrated its 75th anniversary last year.

They share many of the same priorities as the current councilmember, including increasing vocational training and after-school opportunities for young people, combating crime, improving job opportunities and making sure development doesn’t overtake the heart of the neighborhood or swamp existing infrastructure.


These changes should usher a new era for a stronger district but, as the Columbia Tap Trail fight shows, it takes work to make sure promises are fulfilled. The community will need a well-rooted guide while it continues to navigate the pressures of densifying new development. Provost and McGee both have those deep roots and connections but so does Evans-Shabazz, plus her four years of learning how to navigate the delays, shortcuts and potholes at City Hall.

I did not do interviews in District D this year. I’ve interviewed CM Evans-Shabazz twice before, once in 2017 when she ran for HCC Trustee, and again in 2019 when she first ran for District D. If I lived in D I would vote for her. Georgia Provost is as the Chron says, but she’s basically a perennial candidate now (she also ran in the 2022 Democratic primary for County Judge), and I more or less soured on her after she backed Mike Knox over Raj Salhotra in the At Large #1 runoff in 2015. Travis McGee seems like a good sort, and he’s also a frequent candidate who doesn’t ever seem to file campaign finance reports. I can’t take people like that seriously as candidates.

We’re down to just two Council races for the Chron to endorse, District G and At Large #1, the Mayor’s race, and two contested HISD Trustee races. (You haven’t forgotten those HISD races, Houston Chronicle Editorial Board, I hope?) In District G I’m going to step way out on a limb and guess that they will endorse the incumbent, CM Mary Nan Huffman, over the chaos monkey Tony Buzbee. At Large #1 is less clear, and I’d guess it comes down to either Melanie Miles or Leah Wolfthal for them. But I could be wrong, they do surprise me sometimes. As for Mayor, I could make a case for them picking one of at least four candidates – Whitmire, SJL, Gilbert Garcia, Robert Gallegos. I feel much more confident saying we’ll find that one out on Sunday, or at least in the Sunday print edition; it may be online earlier than that. Leave your guesses in the comments.

UPDATE: I see that I am wrong about who the Chron will endorse in At Large #1. This is why no one should make predictions, and by “no one” I mean me, myself.

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3 Responses to Endorsement watch: Hellyar and Evans-Shabazz

  1. Joshua says:

    Chron will endorse lee for mayor

    Carolyn will win reelection in district D decidedly

    Bess will go to the runoff.

  2. Frederick says:

    Nick Hellyar missed a great opportunity for a great ad campaign with …

    …”Hellya for Hellyar”

    Anyway, I’ve got his name circled on my LOWV Guide to vote for in Nov. What a great all-around candidate.

  3. D.R. says:

    Chron at large endorsements honing in on need for more Hispanic representation in the at-large seats.

    Reyes in 1
    Cantù in 3

Comments are closed.