District B residents want runoff for council seat back on schedule

GF Default - Representing District B
GF Default - Representing District B

HOUSTON – Many District B residents are none too pleased their runoff election is being postponed. However, current councilman Jerry Davis said he will not abandon his district until this matter is resolved.

Members of the Texas Organizing Project crowded the steps of City Hall to demand the runoff election for District B goes on as planned. The County Clerk postponed District B’s runoff because of a legal challenge involving candidate Cynthia Bailey.

“They're upset, very upset,” said District B councilman, Jerry Davis. “They want representation in that office and I will do my best to be there for them until the new councilmember elect comes in.”

Davis is leaving office because of term limits, but he said the Texas Constitution will allow him to remain in office if the matter is not resolved by the beginning of next year.

Bailey was set to face Tarsha Jackson in the runoff, but the third-place finisher in the race, Renee Jefferson-Smith, is challenging Bailey’s candidacy since she is a convicted felon. State law reads convicted felons cannot run for public office, but Bailey is challenging that; claiming she is not prohibited from running for office by the city’s charter and the so-called “home rule” should take precedence.

“I'm prepared whatever comes my way because I believe what's for me is for me,” said Bailey. “I paid my debt to society, I'm qualified citizen and a voter.”

A hearing on the legal challenge to Bailey’s candidacy has not yet been scheduled

Smith and her attorney have criticized the city for not removing Bailey form the ballot prior to the November 5 election. Douglas Ray, who is with the County Attorney’s office, told KPRC the city was informed it had the authority to declare a candidate ineligible.

City Attorney Ron Lewis, however, maintains it was up to the state to enforce state election code. Lewis also pushed back against calls for the city to force the runoff to go on as planned.

“A pending lawsuit filed by a District B candidate addresses the issue of which candidate should be on the ballot,” Lewis wrote in an email to KPRC. “A Harris County district court’s ruling on that subject has not been overturned by a Texas Court of Appeals. An election contest is pending. Both cases are governed by state law, not City ordinances. Mischaracterizations of the facts, the law and the pending suits serve no public interest. The legal process should be allowed to proceed. Since the City is a party to these cases, I will have no further comment.”