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Day One Runoff 2019 EV totals: Wait, there was early voting?

Did you vote on that bonus early voting day on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving? Nine thousand four hundred and ninety people did – you can see the day one EV report here. For comparison, the final November 2019 EV totals are here, the final November 2015 EV totals are here, and the final December runoff EV totals from 2015 are here. I’ll wait till the Monday numbers come in before I start making a table for daily comparisons, as there were basically no mail ballots returned for this haul.

You may have noticed that the day one in person vote for the runoff was higher than the day one in person vote from November. The overall vote was greater in November because of mail ballots, but more people showed up at the polls on Wednesday than on October 21. That’s a little weird, because the November election included the rest of Harris County, while the runoff is Houston/HISD/HCC/Bellaire only. The same thing happened in 2015, though, so maybe it’s not that weird. Runoff voters are more hardcore, and there are fewer EV days available in the runoff. If nothing else, it showed that the extra day was indeed useful, even if all it did was shift people from Monday. I’ll be tracking the early vote through the runoff as usual.

Early voting for the 2019 runoffs begins tomorrow

From the inbox:

Early Voting for the December 14 Joint Runoff Election begins Wednesday, November 27, halts for Thanksgiving break, and resumes December 2-10. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., except Sunday, December 8, when they will open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Election Day, December 14, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The deadline to apply for a ballot by mail (received, not postmarked) is Dec. 3.

Harris County will open 33 polling locations during early voting, and 385 on Election Day. Registered voters can vote in the runoff election even if they did not vote in November. A total of 389,494 people voted in the November 5th election out of the more than 2.3 million registered voters in Harris County.

“We remind voters that they do not have to go to an assigned polling location in this election,” said Harris County Clerk Dr. Diane Trautman. “With countywide polling, they can cast their ballots at any voting center near their home, work, school, or wherever they may be during Early Voting and on Election Day.”

On the ballot are races for Houston Mayor, city council members, Houston Independent School District and Houston Community College board members, and City of Bellaire council members. The State of Texas has set January 28, 2020 as the runoff date for the House District 148 Special Election. Early voting for that election is January 20-24, 2020.

“We truly hope that all registered voters exercise their right to vote,” added Dr. Trautman. “Every voice matters, please be proactive and remember you can now vote YOUR way.”

Harris County voters can find individual sample ballots, polling locations, and utilize the new wait time feature at www.HarrisVotes.com. Mobile phone users can text VOTE to 1-833-937-0700 to find the nearest voting center.

District B will also not be on the ballot. You can find the map of early voting locations here – remember that this is City of Houston, HISD, HCC, and City of Bellaire only, so that’s why the farther-out locations are not open. The interactive map is here. Info for Fort Bend folks is here. Remember that the next EV day is Monday, December 2, and after that it’s a normal schedule. Happy voting!

What about those constitutional amendments?

Would you like someone to explain to you what those seven Constitutional amendments are about, in painstaking detail, with a recommendation for how to vote on each? Daniel Williams is here for you.

It’s that time of the biennium again! Time for voters to consider constitutional amendments on small minutia of public policy. Texas has the longest state constitution in the nation. It’s so detailed and specific that many ordinary and noncontroversial provisions of the law must be submitted to the voters for approval. That means that we the voters have a responsibility to educate ourselves on all that ordinary and noncontroversial minutia and do our best to vote in an informed and thoughtful way.

I’ve included the text of each proposed constitutional amendment, along with an attempt to briefly explain what the amendment is trying to do and how I’ll be voting when early voting starts tomorrow. I’ve also included information on how various advocacy groups and media outlets on all sides of the political spectrum have endorsed. If I’ve left off a group you think should be included let me know in the comments and I’ll add it.

Click over to read said painstakingly detailed explanations, the TL;dr version of which is “vote FOR props 1, 3, 5, and 7, and AGAINST props 2, 4, and 6”.

If you want further reading on the amendments, the League of Women Voters 2017 guide has you covered, though they don’t make recommendations. They do have information about the city of Houston bond referenda, and a brief Q&A with the HISD and HCC candidates; all but two of them provided answers. Finally, the Texas AFL-CIO has a guide to the amendments as well, along with their recommendations. You may find this exercise exasperating, but you can’t say you don’t have sufficient information to make good decisions.

On the matter of other elections, Instant News Bellaire has coverage on the elections for Bellaire’s Mayor and City Council. And if you live in Alief ISD, Stace has a slate for you. Now get out there and vote!

The Bellaire “urban transit village”

Very interesting.

Nearly a year in the drafting, a sweeping change to Bellaire’s zoning laws creating an “urban transit village” where there is now a collection of nondescript warehouses will soon be before City Council.

On Nov. 1, the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously voted to recommend Council approval of the zoning ordinance they’ve has been working on since February with Gary Mitchell of the firm Kendig Keast, which had helped design Bellaire’s comprehensive plan five years ago.

Before the vote, the commission held a public hearing on the proposal. While members of the public were present at many of the marathon workshop sessions the commission held throughout the process, this was the first opportunity they had to speak directly on the proposal.

The warehouse district, previously called a Retail Development District in the city’s zoning plan, is a 28-acre area near the intersection of the Southwest Freeway and Loop 610. It includes a site where preliminary plans by Metro call for a light-rail station on Westpark where the regional transit agency hopes to connect the University Line with the Uptown Line leading into the Galleria.

This is the same basic location as the one-time proposed alternate site for Dynamo Stadium. The proximity of a future Universities Line rail stop was a key feature in that proposal as well.

Richard Franke, a Bellaire resident who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in May, said that the proposed ordinance was “an extraordinary effort.” Still, he peppered the commissioners with a list of questions he’d prepared.

“How will the legitimate interests of taxpayers be protected?.” he asked. “What if it reverts to an apartment complex? It’s clear that the residents of Bellaire clearly prefer detached, single-family housing.”

Responding to Franke, [Bellaire community development director John McDonald] said that while the quiet suburban lifestyle may have served Bellaire well in the past, recent trends in development throughout the greater Houston region have shown that a more “urbanized” form is beginning to take hold.

If Bellaire wants to attract new residents, particularly young professionals, it needs to seriously begin considering new forms of development, he said.

That’s almost shockingly forward-thinking of Bellaire. Who knew they had it in them? I hope Houston is paying attention.

Population growth in the Houston suburbs

The Chron’s Newswatch blog had a post the other day showing population changes in different ethnic groups for a number of Houston suburbs between 2000 and 2010. It was done as a chart, and while it was a very nice chart, I’m a numbers guy, not a pictures guy. So I translated it all into something that made sense to me, and here it is.

Bellaire Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 13,030 12,237 -6.1% Latino 1,220 1,601 31.2% Black 125 270 116.0% Asian 985 2,360 139.6% Other 282 388 37.6% Overall 15,642 16,855 7.8% Cinco Ranch Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 9,326 12,536 34.4% Latino 649 2,339 260.4% Black 313 640 104.5% Asian 739 2,339 216.5% Other 168 420 150.0% Overall 11,196 18,274 63.2% Conroe Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 20,062 27,148 35.3% Latino 12,000 21,640 80.3% Black 4,012 5,508 37.3% Asian 331 956 188.9% Other 405 956 136.0% Overall 36,811 56,207 52.7% Katy Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 8,266 8,842 7.0% Latino 2,791 4,090 46.5% Black 530 705 33.0% Asian 59 212 259.3% Other 177 254 43.5% Overall 11,775 14,102 19.8% League City Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 34,810 56,993 63.7% Latino 6,135 14,457 135.6% Black 2,272 5,766 153.8% Asian 1,409 4,429 214.3% Other 818 1,922 135.0% Overall 45,444 83,568 83.9% Pasadena Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 66,870 48,737 -27.1% Latino 68,287 92,705 35.8% Black 1,983 2,832 42.8% Asian 2,550 3,130 22.7% Other 1,983 1,639 -17.3% Overall 141,674 149,043 5.2% Pearland Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 27,628 44,531 61.2% Latino 6,098 18,707 206.8% Black 1,957 14,692 650.7% Asian 1,355 11,224 729.8% Other 602 2,099 248.7% Overall 37,640 91,252 142.4% Spring Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 26,779 25,466 -4.9% Latino 5,822 15,421 164.9% Black 2,511 10,262 308.7% Asian 509 1,629 220.0% Other 764 1,520 99.0% Overall 36,385 54,298 49.2% Sugar Land Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 38,443 34,995 -9.0% Latino 5,003 8,276 65.4% Black 3,230 5,754 78.1% Asian 15,009 27,665 84.3% Other 1,583 2,128 34.4% Overall 63,328 78,817 24.5% The Woodlands Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 48,693 73,670 51.3% Latino 3,673 11,449 211.7% Black 946 2,159 128.2% Asian 1,558 4,505 189.2% Other 779 2,065 165.1% Overall 55,649 93,847 68.6%

Please note that the individual totals may not sum up exactly because of rounding. Charts are nice, but I don’t think you can fully appreciate the huge scope of some of these changes without seeing numbers. Hope it’s as helpful to you as it was to me.

West U and Bellaire on the Google Fiber bandwagon

The deadline for submitting an application for a city to be a part of Google’s experimental fiber network was last Friday, the 26th. The cities of West University Place and Bellaire got theirs in before the deadline.

Cindy Siegel and Bob Kelly won’t be making any photo-op leaps to promote their respective cities’ cases for bring Google’s fiber to Bellaire or West University Place. Both cities are taking low-key approaches to their responses to Google’s bid requests, and both municipalities have something few other cities can boast; high-density entities with relatively low square mileage, with great proximity to one of the most tech-savvy large cities in the country.

Can Bellaire and West U compete against the others?

“We’re taking a more straightforward, practical approach,” said Bellaire City Manager Bernie Satterwhite. “If you look at what some of the other cities are doing, and look at some of the institutions that would benefit from this, I would think it might diminish our chances somewhat.”

In the same breath, though, Satterwhite told the Examiner: “But, it’s worth our while to pursue this.”

West University Place City Manager Michael Ross, however, thinks his city’s conservative, under-the-radar set of sales pitches to Google, will play to an advantage for his municipality.

“I feel our chances are extremely high,” said Ross. “It’s been proven time and time again that West University Place is a community that is very desirable for technology. We do everything we can with our current provider—what we’d really like is what, in this case, is a ‘supreme’ provider.”

They join Sugar Land in submitting an application, and we know all about Austin. Does anyone know if the city of Houston ever did anything about this? My guess would be No, since I’ve not seen any indication of it. But in the event I just missed it, leave a comment if you know what happened.

Bellaire officially opposes Dynamo Westpark Stadium

Bellaire City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday night that opposes the construction of a Dynamo Stadium on Westpark.

“To ignore it and not speak up for our residents would be the wrong thing to do,” said Mayor Cindy Siegel, after introducing the resolution, which stated:

“Whereas, the proposed Midway stadium site is not compatible with the existing Bellaire and Houston residential neighborhoods that surround this site and would negatively impact their quality of life with significant noise, traffic gridlock, cut-through traffic, event parking on the CenterPoint Energy easement immediately adjacent to Bellaire and Houston homes’ backyards, and overflow event parking on Bellaire and Houston residential neighborhood streets.”

The council vote came on the heels of continued negative reaction from residents after news of the Midway proposal surfaced in late January.

“The Dynamo stadium in that area would be a logistical nightmare,” said resident Cynthia Freeman to the council.

Councilman Will Hickman said he conducted a survey of 110 residents on the issue and revealed that 89 percent of the respondents oppose any stadium plan near city limits.

Mayor Siegel was an early opponent of this idea. The proposed location is outside the Bellaire city limits so the resolution has no force, but it is a pretty clear expression of what the locals want. Given that the folks on the East End are strongly in favor of the original downtown stadium idea, perhaps this will give that project another nudge. Dynamo President Oliver Luck certainly hasn’t given up on that.

Dynamo President Oliver Luck said the council’s resolution doesn’t change his thinking because he is already trying to make the downtown site work.

“We won’t say no to any other reasonable proposals until we have a shovel in the ground but certainly the East End has been our focus,” Luck said.

So you’ve got one location for which nearly all of the pieces are in place and there’s community support, and another location that would have to start from scratch and overcome opposition from its closest neighbors. Makes you wonder why we’re even having this conversation, doesn’t it? Instant News Bellaire has more.

“There’s no such thing as a project like this without public money”

Dynamo President Oliver Luck throws a little cold water on the claims that a Westpark Stadium could be built exclusively with private funding.

“We have not been presented a plan by the Midway Companies,” Luck said. “I can’t say whether there’s ‘no public money’ involved.

“We (the Dynamo) won’t talk to the city or county about this deal — we have pushed that responsibility to Midway. We know what our conditions are, and basically, it’s replicating the financial structure of the downtown deal. That’s sort of a threshhold question. If they can do that, we’ll go ahead. If they can’t, it won’t happen.”

[…]

Midway recently completed a major mixed-use development in the Memorial area, City Centre, where there is a TIRZ — a tax increment reinvestment zone — in place with the city of Houston, that reinvests some property taxes into infrastructure improvements to help spur development.

Sources familiar with the Midway proposal say it is relying on extending a similar TIRZ in the Uptown/Galleria area, which ends at Highway 59, to encompass the Midway property south of Westpark.

That was news to John Breeding, who serves as executive director of both the Uptown TIRZ and Uptown Development Authority, who said neither agency is involved and is waiting to hear more.

Which comes around, again, to Oliver Luck, who knows a thing or two about stadiums from his four years as CEO of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. “There’s always infrastructure involved, public services that need to be provided,” he said. “There’s no such thing as a project like this without public money.”

Well, yeah. As I’ve said all along, it’s a matter of how much money the city and maybe the county would have to invest to make this happen, and whether or not that would wind up being less than what the East End stadium would require. Until there’s a real proposal on the table, we can’t make that evaluation. In the meantime, claims about “private financing” just distort the picture.

It should also be noted that the East End stadium deal is much farther along, and really just needs buy in from County Commissioners El Franco Lee and Sylvia Garcia. That deal could be completed quickly if they signed off on it. Residents in the area, who are facing the prospect that the city might view the location as suitable for a new jail facility if the stadium deal falls through, are pushing for it to get done. There’s no organized opposition to the East End proposal, while the Westpark concept would have to overcome pushback from Bellaire Mayor Cindy Siegel and possibly others. The bottom line is that if any stadium deal happens, the East End is still the heavy favorite to be the choice. David Ortez has more.

Finally, on a related note, freshman Bellaire City Council Member Corbett Parker, who has expressed support for the Westpark location and who is a friend of Oliver Luck, explains his relationship with Luck and the Dynamo.

Bellaire versus Westpark Stadium

Still more on the proposed Westpark location for Dynamo Stadium: The Mayor of Bellaire doesn’t like the idea.

[Bellaire Mayor Cindy] Siegel has scheduled an executive session of the Bellaire City Council Monday following the 7 p.m. State of the City address and indicated she’s optimistic other councilmembers will join her in opposing the 20,000-seat stadium that would reportedly double as a concert venue and feature a 3,000-vehicle parking structure.

“I would hope council would see the negative impact and would listen to residents, who I’m already hearing from by e-mail,” Siegel told the Examiner.

In that interview, she called the plans by the Midway Companies “a betrayal of the vision” that had been worked out among Bellaire, Metro, Thompson + Hanson Nursery and Midway. Those parties had funded an architect’s conceptual plan for a transit-oriented development at the location, in the southwest corner of the 610/59 intersection, bordered on the north by Westpark Drive.

But [County Commissioner Steve] Radack says Bellaire doesn’t have to sign off on the deal, and that he sees support for the private funding.

“Bellaire does not have jurisdiction over any of this…If this deal gets worked out then there will be a whole lot of citizens a lot happier by seeing private money being spent than public money being spent,” he told the Examiner’s Steve Mark.

Sounds an awful lot like Radack is telling Siegel to sit down and shut up. It’s true that this location is not inside Bellaire, but it’s right next to the boundary line, and for sure a stadium there would have an effect, mostly negative, on Bellaire. Mayor Siegel’s letter to Midway CEO Brad Freels lays it out:

Quite frankly, Brad, I have to tell you that I was blindsided by your company’s proposal to use your land at S. Rice and Westpark for a Dynamo stadium. This proposal is completely contrary to what was envisioned for the transit oriented development that included your property and the Bellaire Research and Development District (RDD) when Bellaire, Metro, Thompson and Hanson, and Midway shared the cost of an architect to develop a conceptual plan for a transit oriented development at this location. As I have stated at every joint meeting that your company has attended with Metro and City of Bellaire officials – our primary concern has always been to protect the integrity of the Bellaire residential neighborhood directly south of this site, in addition to protecting the interests of the Bellaire property owners in the RDD.

In reviewing your plans further over the weekend and driving by the site Monday during the day and rush hour traffic in the evening. I cannot see any benefit to locating a soccer stadium (that would also be used as an outdoor entertainment facility) at your site. I believe strongly that the proposed stadium site on your property has serious limitations and will have an extremely negative impact to the residential Bellaire and Houston neighborhoods that adjoin your property and the RDD. As we discussed, the S. Rice and Westpark intersection already experiences significant delays due to traffic backups. (This traffic problem has been discussed several times in prior meetings regarding the placement of a Metro Rail transit station here.) Additionally, traffic backs from Fournace on the 610 Feeder road up to Westpark daily during evening rush hour. A stadium at this site would just increase exponentially what is already a significant traffic problem!

Additionally, there is an existing traffic problem at the 610 and 59 interchange that has been a tremendous drain on emergency personnel responding to accidents that would be compounded further if the stadium was built on your site. Bellaire and Houston emergency personnel (but primarily Bellaire) already respond s several times a day to accidents at this location. To add stadium traffic to what is already a horrible problem would be a financial and manpower resource burden that Bellaire cannot accommodate.

My in-laws live near there, so I can attest to the traffic issues in that area from personal experience. I do think that the University line will help to abate that somewhat, but it won’t be enough. Besides, last I checked that area wasn’t very walkable, so either parking is going to have to be right there, or a whole lot of money is going to have to be spent on infrastructure improvements. In response, Freels and Radack appear to be telling Mayor Siegel that she shouldn’t worry her little head about it.

The Midway site is in Radack’s Precinct 3.

“I think that that (Midway) area needs a shot in the arm and I believe when the Dynamo are playing, it’s not peak times for traffic,” Radack said.

Freels made much the same point.

“I think when she understands the plan in toto she’ll embrace it,” Freels said. “I wish she would have full information before she makes full judgment.”

Well, maybe if fuller information were available, we could all make fuller judgments, but how much more do you need to know to say this is going to affect traffic in that area? As for Radack’s pronouncement, looking through Dynamo schedules for past years (the 2010 schedule hasn’t been published yet), they have played most of their games on weekends. I don’t know if that’s been to accommodate UH, or if that’s just the norm. If that’s how it would be going forward, then it would lessen the impact somewhat, but the inclusion of retail properties on the site would have the opposite effect. Again, until someone does a study and produces a report, we’re all just guessing. I do remain convinced that none of this can happen without some public money being spent to improve the infrastructure around Midway, and as I said before, it’s not at all clear to me that this site would require less public spending than the east downtown one. It’s just too early to say. More on this from the Examiner here, with video from KTRK.

UPDATE: Bellaire City Council Member Corbett Parker has more.

Galveston bans texting while driving

Consider yourself warned.

Galveston City Council members banned [texting while driving] Thursday, making the city the first in Galveston County to forbid motorists from using cell phones and other hand-held devices to view, send or compose electronic messages while driving.

Those caught texting while driving face a class C misdemeanor — the equivalent of a traffic ticket — and a fine of up to $500.

The law takes effect the first week of February.

[…]

Though it is now illegal to text while driving, motorists can defend themselves from getting tickets if the vehicle is stopped, if they were making a phone call, if they were texting to prevent a crime that’s about to be committed, if they were texting to obtain emergency assistance or if their life or safety is in immediate danger.

The ban does not apply to using voice-activated or hands-free texting devices, devices that are permanently installed in vehicles or navigation systems that are affixed to the vehicle.

More information here. The vote was 8-1, with the one dissenter wanting there to be more public discussion first. Note the defenses that Galveston will allow. In West U and Bellaire, texting and web browsing are still illegal even if you’re at a stop sign or red light. It’s because of differences like these that I believe there will be some action on this in the 2011 legislative session. As with smoking bans and school zone cellphone usage, whether you like this or not, there will be pressure to create a single standard.

Bellaire bans texting while driving

First West U, now Bellaire.

Following the lead of the city of Austin, the City Councils in Bellaire and West U Monday adopted ordinances to prohibit texting or web browsing while driving. Laws are in effect immediately, though not enforceable by respective police entities until proper legal notice is published and appropriate street signs are posted.

Officials in West University expect signs to be in place by about Jan. 1, while Bellaire’s enforcement will begin at a time to be determined in January.

“This one passes the common sense test,” said Bellaire Councilman Phil Nauert. “I don’t believe there’s any safe way to text while driving.”

Bellaire’s enactment of the ordinance was done with little fanfare, following West University’s process that was the focal point of significant attention in the greater Houston area.

‘We’ve brought an awareness to everyone that texting is not responsible,” said West U Councilmember George Boehme.

Note that both cities’ restrictions include bans on texting while stopped for a red light. If you’re in a driving lane, even if you’re not moving, it’s forbidden. Link via Hair Balls.

Early voting locations set for runoff

Via press release from the County Clerk’s office, some dates to mark on the calendar:

IMPORTANT DECEMBER 12, 2009 JOINT RUNOFF ELECTION DATES

First Day of Early Voting – Monday, November 30, 2009
Last Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail (received not Postmarked) – Friday, December 4, 2009
Last Day of Early Voting – Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Election Day – Saturday, December 12, 2009

Early voting locations and hours are here (PDF). Note that there are only nine days of early voting, not twelve, and that voting locations outside the city of Houston are not open, as there’s nothing for most folks outside of Houston to be voting for; the main exceptions that come to my mind are the West University Place and Bellaire runoffs, and maybe the HISD Trustee runoffs, if either of Districts I and IX have non-Houston territory in them.

You can still register for the runoff

I suspect that just about everyone reading this blog is a registered voter, but if you aren’t, or you know someone who isn’t, you get a second chance for the runoff.

Harris County Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez reminds citizens they can still register to vote and participate in the runoff election on Dec. 12, 2009. Citizens who are not registered to vote must do so on or before Thursday, Nov. 12 to vote in the City of Houston runoff election on Dec. 12.

Vasquez pointed out that there also will be runoffs in the City of Bellaire and the Houston Independent School District.

“These are crucial elections. In Houston, voters will choose a new mayor and new city controller. Several council races will be decided too. If you are registered, you can vote in the runoff even if you did not vote Nov. 3. But remember, if you are not registered, hurry and register now so your voice can be heard,” Vasquez urged.

Vasquez noted that his office has made registering to vote more convenient than ever in Harris County. Voter registration applications are available at all 16 Harris County Tax Office branches, public libraries, City of Houston multi-service centers, community centers and health clinics. Citizens can even download an application from the Harris County Tax Office’s Web site, www.hcvoter.net.

As they say, act now and don’t delay. You have a week. Martha has other relevant dates for the runoff.

Runoff rules

Council Member Mike Sullivan sheds some light on my confusion about runoffs in school board elections.

As a former school board member, I know the answer well.

In short, in the state of Texas, a candidate for school board has to only achieve a plurality to win. It is not necessary to win by the conventional “50% + 1″ to win an election. You only have to receive more than one vote that everyone else in the race to win.

While this may seem like a strange, or archaic method, it has served this state well. There almost 1100 school districts in the state, and as they say, “you do the math”. It would be expensive, time consuming, and certainly a financial burden for almost school districts if the election law was written any other way.

I appreciate the feedback. I assumed Alief ISD would have a runoff because HISD has them. Checking the statutes, however, makes it clear that HISD is the exception and not the rule:

Sec. 2.001. PLURALITY VOTE REQUIRED. Except as otherwise provided by law, to be elected to a public office, a candidate must receive more votes than any other candidate for the office.

So there must be a provision elsewhere that allows for or requires HISD elections to need a majority. And I believe this is it in the Education code.

Sec. 11.057. DETERMINATION OF RESULTS; OPTIONAL MAJORITY VOTE REQUIREMENT. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (c), in an independent school district in which the positions of trustees are designated by number as provided by Section 11.058 or in which the trustees are elected from single-member trustee districts as provided by Section 11.052, the candidate receiving the highest number of votes for each respective position voted on is elected.

(b) In a district in which the positions of trustees are not designated by number or in which the trustees are not elected from single-member trustee districts, the candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall fill the positions the terms of which are normally expiring.

(c) The board of trustees of an independent school district in which the positions of trustees are designated by number or in which the trustees are elected from single-member trustee districts as provided by Section 11.052 may provide by resolution, not later than the 180th day before the date of an election, that a candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast for a position or in a trustee district, as applicable, to be elected. A resolution adopted under this subsection is effective until rescinded by a subsequent resolution adopted not later than the 180th day before the date of the first election to which the rescission applies.

So the default is “most votes wins”, but a district may make its own rule that requires a majority. Which is I presume what HISD has done. I looked around but didn’t find such a resolution for HISD, so if anyone happens to know where to look for one, I’d appreciate it.

So there you have it. Note also that for city elections, you apparently need a majority to win in Bellaire, even though state law does not require that of them. Days like this make me think I should have gone to law school, if only so I could have a better understanding of how stuff like this works.

More thoughts about yesterday’s results

– I didn’t note it last night, but all 11 Constitutional amendments passed. No surprise there, they almost always do.

– Looking back at my turnout projections, the right number to go with was the 30% scenario. As it happens, going by the numbers in the Mayoral race, 31.0% of all votes cast for the City of Houston races were early votes. Doing the same math for the constitutional amendments, 29.0% of all Harris County votes were cast early. One reason why the City of Houston turnout was so poor is that only 69.5% of all Harris County voters were in the city of Houston. Had it been 75%, as I had assumed in my projections, the city’s turnout figure would have been 192,804 instead of 178,594.

– The Chron story on the turnout contains some funny math.

Part of the difference between this year and previous open-seat races is the jump in registered voters, driven in part by massive efforts to get people signed up for last year’s presidential election.

In Harris County, nearly 1.9 million people are registered to vote, compared to 1.2 million in 1997, and less than 1 million in 2003.

*boggle* Let’s skip over the assertion about efforts to get voters registered last year, since we know that number should in fact be much higher than it is; as a percentage of population, the number of registered voters in 2008 was down significantly from 2004. An awful lot of that effort to register voters was just to re-establish those who had moved since the previous election. Be all that as it may, the relevant figure for 2003 was 1,506,629 registered voters. I can only assume that “less than 1 million” figure refers to the city of Houston, in which case what we have here is an apples and oranges mixup.

– You do recall that Roseann Rogers, the “Buzz Lady”, was running for City Council in Bellaire, right? She finished second to Corbett Parker for that seat, with 28.11% to Parker’s 49.23%. I presume this means a runoff, but am not sure if the law is different for smaller cities like Bellaire.

– Other thoughts on the results, from Greg, Coby, Stace, Martha, and David Ortez. Martha’s analysis of Roy’s performance is well worth reading.

That’s all for now. I figure there will be a short lull, then things will fire up and go red hot till Runoff Day. I at least plan to enjoy the respite, however brief it may be.

UPDATE: On the one hand, regarding Bellaire, state law only requires a majority to win for cities of 200,000 people or more. On the other hand, Bellaire does indeed have runoffs for its elections. You can see how this can get confusing.

UPDATE: Nancy Sims, PDiddie, Hair Balls and Campos weigh in.

HISD trustee Dianne Johnson not running for re-election

There’s plenty of action in the City of Houston elections this fall, but they are not the only races on the ballot, as HISD and HCC will be electing Trustees as well. At least one of the five HISD Trustee races will be for an open seat as current Trustee Dianne Johnson announces she will not run for re-election.

Dianne Johnson has told The Examiner she will not seek another term as trustee of Houston ISD District V, which includes West University Place, Bellaire, Southside Place and much of southwest Houston.

“If eight years is enough for the president of the United States, it ought to be enough for a board member,” she told The Examiner Thursday.

“It’s time to move on,” said Johnson, who was first elected to her seat in 2001. “It’s good for other people to have that opportunity.”

Johnson, a longtime committee member at Bellaire High School, Pershing Middle School and Condit Elementary, was re-elected to the school board in 2005, when she was elected board president. Johnson was weighing her decision on whether to run for another term while she and fellow board members have been wading through the process of selecting a new superintendent. There has been considerable speculation that that process, and the relative delay in finding a successor to Dr. Abelardo Saavedra, played a part in Johnson’s decision.

“No,” said Johnson. “I hope I’ll be a part of the selection. I’ve been listening to the community intensely as we’ve looked for a new superintendent.”

Five of the nine board seats are up for election. Larry Marshall and Greg Meyers have indicated they will run again, while Natasha Kamrani and Harvin Moore have not committed. Filing starts next month, with the election in November.

Should be interesting to see who lines up to run for this seat. I expect to have my hands full with Council, Mayor, and Controller interviews, but I hope to be able to talk to some HISD and HCC Trustee candidates as well. Thanks to Hair Balls for the catch.