CM Jackson’s residency questioned

You’ve gotta be kidding me.

Tarsha Jackson

The election in Houston city council’s District B was put on hold for a year as courts addressed whether one of the two finalists for the seat, Cynthia Bailey, was eligible to run for office.

Now, the winner of last month’s runoff, Tarsha Jackson, is drawing scrutiny of her own, just weeks after she prevailed against Bailey and took office at City Hall as District B’s city council member.

Some civic leaders in District B are asking the city attorney’s office to review Jackson’s eligibility because she lives in a portion of Harris County that Houston annexed for limited purposes. Residents in those areas can vote in city elections — Jackson’s voter registration shows she lives in District B — but state law appears to bar them from running for office. The Texas Local Government Code says residents in those areas are “not eligible to be a candidate for or to be elected to a municipal office.”

A city map of Houston annexations shows the north Houston address where Jackson lives was annexed by the city in 2002. The city planning department said it was a limited purpose annexation, in which the city does not collect property taxes but can levy a sales tax. Jackson does not pay city property taxes on her home, according to the Harris County Appraisal District.

That could make Jackson ineligible, although the city has not taken a stand on the issue. City Attorney Arturo Michel declined an interview request.


The city does not vet candidates’ addresses in determining eligibility. Instead, city attorneys confirm the address listed is in the district they hope to represent. The mayor’s office said in 2019 it declared eight candidates ineligible after those checks and others to ensure candidates have marked a box swearing they have not been convicted of a felony. More than 100 people ran for city council in 2019.

Jackson, a criminal justice organizer, said she did not know about the phrasing in the Local Governmental Code or her neighborhood’s annexation history. She votes in District B elections and said she did not have any concern about eligibility. Jackson said she disclosed her address on her ballot application and the city allowed her to run. She said her mind is on getting to work for District B residents.

“I’ve been forthright on everything when I applied to run to represent the residents of District B. My address is on all the documentation,” Jackson said. “I looked at the criteria we needed to run, and as far as I’m concerned, I met that criteria.”

She was sworn in by Mayor Sylvester Turner on Dec. 21.

Doug Ray, an Austin-based attorney with Ray & Wood who specializes in election law, said it is possible someone could pursue what is called a quo warranto lawsuit, a special type of filing designed to challenge officeholders. The county or district attorney would have to bring the suit themselves, or on behalf of another individual if they approve the claim.

“It’s within their discretion, and if they don’t sign on, it would be subject to dismissal,” Ray said, referring to the county and district attorneys.

He said the annexation question gets complicated based on the different types. The planning department said Jackson’s neighborhood is part of a limited purpose annexation through a strategic partnership with a municipal utility district.

“Assuming all those things are true … that limitation would apply,” Ray said of the barrier on running for office.

Man, I don’t know what to say. As the story notes, the city generally doesn’t enforce this unless there’s a complaint or it’s otherwise brought to their attention, as was the case with Michelle Bonton in 2019. On the one hand, the uneven nature of the enforcement is frustrating, and we always seem to hear about these things at a time when it’s too late to do anything about them. I generally have no patience for non-city of Houston people who try to run for city of Houston offices. (Plenty of them find various ways to bend the rules to make themselves appear eligible – I can think of at least one other serving right now.) This case feels more like a technicality, but one should probably be aware if one is paying city of Houston property taxes or not, especially if one is planning to file for a city office. Against all that, there was a ton of time for this information to come out, and the people of District B waited a long time for this election. What are we supposed to do with this information now? I guess we’ll see if someone pursues this. I don’t know what else to say.

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4 Responses to CM Jackson’s residency questioned

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    “Jackson does not pay city property taxes on her home, according to the Harris County Appraisal District.”

    Oy, vey! Yeah, that’s a pretty clear indicator that she knew, or should have known up front that she wasn’t eligible to be a city office holder. What to do about it? Well, that seems clear…..don’t seat her, and hold a new election. Will this cost money and make the city look incredibly stupid? Yup. Did her opponent wait until now to toss down the trump card? Sure. That doesn’t make it any less valid. Here’s the info. She’s de facto not qualified to hold the office. There you go.

    Isn’t this the very issue everyone here was so all fired up about with Dave Wilson? Y’all wanted full time surveillance of his warehouse in Houston he claimed as his residence to make sure he was actually living there, remember?

    Well, this is even more cut and dried than the Wilson case. She doesn’t pay property tax, meaning she lives in an ETJ…..not the city proper.

  2. voter_worker says:

    The City could take literally five minutes per application to determine if a property account is being assessed for the City of Houston or not. It’s a simple lookup on HCAD. Can we enlist EA Longoria to vet all candidates going forward?

  3. David Fagan says:

    The city shouldn’t be collecting sales tax where they don’t want to be responsible for the area. This woman votes for her representation, but it’s not allowed to represent? The law that allowed Houston to do this should be stricken for this reason. Either annex the place 100% or leave it be.

  4. Lobo says:

    Maybe the Lege should consider putting a statute of limitations — like 30 days perhaps with clock starting upon election — on a quo warranto action, if there isn’t one now, or prescribe the verification of eligibility based on the relevant documents (like tax bill) to prevent the problem form occurring ex ante.

    Legal certainty would be desirable in this situation. And prevention, rather than after-the-fact removal action.


    CPRC 33, which governs quo warranto actions, does not contain a statute of limitations. Assuming that the residual statute of limitations might apply by default (four years), it would make little sense for an office unlawfully occupied when the term of that office is also four years (or less). There should be an incentive to bring such actions ASAP, and have them barred if not promptly resolved.

    As for who may bring such action, see

    TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 66.002 (providing that a quo warranto proceeding is initiated by “the attorney general or the county or district attorney of the proper county”); see also Bute v. League City, 390 S.W.2d 811, 815 (Tex. Civ. App.-Houston 1965, no writ) (“Quo warranto is not available to a private citizen in his private capacity, although it may be brought upon facts related and verified by him.”).




    Sec. 66.001. GROUNDS. An action in the nature of quo warranto is available if:

    (1) a person usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or executes a franchise or an office, including an office in a corporation created by the authority of this state;

    (2) a public officer does an act or allows an act that by law causes a forfeiture of his office;

    (3) an association of persons acts as a corporation without being legally incorporated;

    (4) a corporation does or omits an act that requires a surrender or causes a forfeiture of its rights and privileges as a corporation;

    (5) a corporation exercises power not granted by law;

    (6) a railroad company charges an extortionate rate for transportation of freight or passengers; or

    (7) a railroad company unlawfully refuses to move over its lines the cars of another railroad company.

    Sec. 66.002. INITIATION OF SUIT. (a) If grounds for the remedy exist, the attorney general or the county or district attorney of the proper county may petition the district court of the proper county or a district judge if the court is in vacation for leave to file an information in the nature of quo warranto.

    (b) The petition must state that the information is sought in the name of the State of Texas.

    (c) The attorney general or county or district attorney may file the petition on his own motion or at the request of an individual relator.

    (d) If there is probable ground for the proceeding, the judge shall grant leave to file the information, order the information to be filed, and order process to be issued.

    Sec. 66.003. JUDGMENT. If the person against whom the information is filed is found guilty as charged, the court:

    (1) shall enter judgment removing the person from the office or franchise;

    (2) shall enter judgment for the costs of prosecution in favor of the relator; and

    (3) may fine the person for usurping, intruding into, or unlawfully holding and executing the office or franchise.


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