Houston City Council District B race will not appear on Dec. runoff ballot due to lawsuit

HOUSTON – The Houston City Council District B runoff race will not appear on the Dec. 14 ballot after the candidate in third place filed a lawsuit demanding another candidate be disqualified for being a convicted felon, according to a release from the Harris County Clerk’s Office on Wednesday.

Candidates Tarsha Jackson and Cynthia Bailey were set to face off in a runoff election after neither candidate got enough votes for an outright win on Nov. 5. Third-place finisher Renee Jefferson filed a lawsuit demanding Bailey be disqualified because she was previously convicted of felony forgery and also because she says she lied on her application for candidacy about the conviction.

“I’m just hoping everyone will get a fair chance to run a fair election,” Jefferson-Smith said Wednesday.

Jefferson-Smith filed a lawsuit to remove Bailey from the ballot last week, but it was denied. She filed a second suit contesting the election Friday which is now being considered in the 170th District Court. The second filing led to the county clerk’s decision to remove the race from the ballot.

“Due to a legal challenge, the City of Houston Council Member District B race will not appear on the December 14, 2019 Runoff ballot,” officials with the Harris County Clerk’s Office wrote in a statement Wednesday. “This will not affect any of the other races of the election procedures the Harris County Clerk’s Office carries out.”

Bailey’s attorney, Oliver Brown, contends his client is eligible to be on the ballot under the state’s “home rule” statues, and he predicts she will be.

“The government, in an abundance of caution, have now put the election on hold, but Cynthia bailey and Tarsha Jackson will still be in a runoff," Brown said. "They’re delaying the inevitable.”

The election contest was filed in the 125th District Court, according to Douglas Ray, the special assistant to the Harris County Attorney. Ray said Texas election code requires that an election not be carried out until a judge brings a ruling on the contest. Another code requires that a judge deciding an election contest must not be from the same jurisdiction as the race. As a result, a judge from outside Harris County will be required to hear this case, Ray said.

District B race will be decided by voters in a special election after a judge decides whether Bailey should be disqualified for being a convicted felon.