State Rep. Sylvester Turner and Bill King are now in the runoff for mayor, with Turner leading the pack in Tuesday's election, nabbing about 31.5 percent of the vote, with nearly all precincts reporting.
A Who's Who of local Democrats flanked Turner when he took the stage to greet supporters inside the George R. Brown Convention Center Tuesday, from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to state Sen. John Whitmire, who insisted Turner would bring about an “administration of inclusion” after working across the aisle for more than a quarter-century in the Texas House.
“I've seen him do it, I've seen him do it on the House floor, where he brought everyone across the aisle,” Whitmire said.
Speaking to a boisterous crowd, Turner painted the runoff as a choice between Houston's past and future. “This is not a race about personalities,” he said. “This race is about the future of this city versus its past.” Turner, who if elected would be the city's second black mayor, added: “If you want to be mayor in this city, you have to appeal to the diversity of this city…The diversity of this city represents its value.” (See more of our photos from election night here.)
As for businessman Bill King, he told supporters he was focused on "getting the streets fixed, getting police out in the neighborhoods to catch some of these crooks and being financially responsible." King told Channel 11 Tuesday night that he knows being mayor of Kemah doesn't necessarily prepare him for being mayor of a city this size, but that his experience and work as an attorney make him the right candidate.
Meanwhile, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near NRG Stadium, Adrian Garcia, who was considered a front-runner in the race when he announced his run earlier this year, conceded by telling a small but vibrant crowd, "Unfortunately, this was not my time to lead our city."
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Joined at the podium by his wife and daughter, Garcia spoke of Houston's culture of "togetherness" and people of diverse backgrounds finding common ground — a somewhat ironic theme, given the trouncing that HERO, a non-discrimination ordinance meant to protect people of all walks of life, took at the polls.
Garcia resigned as Harris County Sheriff to run for mayor, and it was his tenure in that position that made him an easy target for his opponents. Although he showed promise early on, media stories about inmate mistreatment at the Harris County Jail, as well as a sweetheart ministry contract awarded to a friend, helped dragged him down. (In an especially poor choice of words, Garcia's campaign treasurer introduced him Tuesday night as a former cop who ran toward dangerous situations, "not running away, like a lot of people," when in fact Garcia ran away from a mayoral debate while it was in progress).
But the crowd cheered when Garcia was introduced as "the best sheriff in Harris County history," as well as the county's "most powerful Latino."
"As I look out to you, I see strength, I see prosperity, I see hope," Garcia said. He then championed Houston as the only city in North America with an airport system offering direct flights "to every continent in the world."
"For me, this campaign has always been about you, for you, for all of you," Garcia said. "...together, Houston will continue to be the city of opportunity it was for me."