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To have a special or not to have a special

On Wednesday at Kuff’s World, I discussed the possibility of Mayor White taking steps to avoid holding a special election to replace Shelley Sekula Gibbs for the remainder of her term on City Council. Today, Kristin Mack confirms that such a plan is in the works.

White plans to ask the Legislature for more leeway.

A special election to fill Sekula-Gibbs’ City Council seat can be no earlier than May, meaning whoever won would have to run again in November to keep the job.

“I don’t want to spend $3 million just so a seat can be filled six months early,” White said, factoring in the cost of a citywide election and a potential runoff. “I would like to see if the Legislature could change the law to allow the Houston City Council to decide whether to conduct the election in May or November, taking into account the cost of the election.”

He will base his argument for the legislation partly on a provision in the state Election Code that says a special election should be called “as soon as practicable after the vacancy occurs.”


White still faces a time crunch.

City Council has to call an election within 62 days of the next uniform Election Day, which is May 12. That means the mayor is looking at a March deadline for passage of a bill. And knowing the slow pace of the Legislature, especially in the early days of the session, it’s entirely possible that lawmakers wouldn’t meet that deadline.

He’d also have to get a supermajority in support of this plan so that it would take effect immediately upon being signed by Governor Perry instead of the constitutionally-mandated 90 days later. Nobody was identified as a potential bill carrier, so it’s unclear as yet how much of this is theoretical and how much is already underway. I’m going to try to follow up on that.

One more thing:

Whether the election is May or November, a field of candidates already is firming up.

Melissa Noriega, wife of state Rep. Rick Noriega, is in. She says she is definitely running in November. As for May, she can’t say with any certainty, since no election has been called.

Retired Air Force officer Roy Morales, who ran for an at-large position in 2005, is running, as is business consultant Andy Neill. City employee Noel Freeman already has a Web site and blog.

Lawyers Jay Aiyer and Nandy Berry – wife of Councilman Michael Berry – are still weighing their options.

Tom Reiser, a Republican who used almost $1.2 million from his own pocket in a losing 2002 congressional race, is also interested.

You read that last one here first.

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