District H Council Run-off set for Saturday

The open seat on Houston city council will be decided this weekend. Voters in District H have a chance to choose between run-off candidates Ed Gonzales and Maverick Welsh. Laurie Johnson has more on what the two men say they each bring to the district's constituents.

The District H seat was vacated in January when then Councilmember Adrian Garcia left the position after being elected as the new Harris County Sheriff.

Since then, Ed Gonzalez and Maverick Welsh beat out seven other candidates to make it to the run-off.

Both men spent this week in high-gear campaign mode, hosting events, knocking on doors, making cold calls to residents in the district, which encompasses the Heights and near northside areas.

Gonzalez says for him, it's about representing the neighborhood he was born and raised in.

"My whole life has been basically connected in some form or fashion to District H. And I've worked very hard in my own professional life as an 18-year public servant with our Houston Police Department and for five years volunteering my own free time in the District H office."

Gonzalez says that volunteer experience gave him an understanding of what constituents are concerned about.

"The top thing that most people talk about is the issue involving crime. Crime seems to be a major concern district-wide. And you know also just the quality of life, the daily issues that affect people in their neighborhoods. They want clean streets, they want safe water, they want the drainage issues to be resolved."

Pounding the pavement in his own right, Maverick Welsh hopes to gain the edge in the run-off. Welsh was a long-time high school teacher in District H before taking a position in Councilmember Peter Brown's office.

He says the vote for city councilmember is important to the daily lives of Houston residents.

"Who do you call first when you've got a problem with your street or your neighborhood? You call your district councilmember. You're not going to call the President of the United States or the governor or your U.S. senator. You're going to call your district councilmember. That's why I wanted to run for a district council race because that's where I think I can do the most good. And this is probably one of the most important elections people can vote in."

As for his plans for the district, one of his first concerns is illegal dumping.

"You know when you go outside of the Heights or Lindale, you see some pretty eye-opening stuff. Large parts of the district where you have open ditches and a lot of people have been just dumping trash everywhere. So it's really you know, a scary situation, I think people are tired of it. You know you've got a lot of crime in parts of the district that haven't got a lot of attention and I think it's important that every neighborhood get good representation in the district."

The two men each have endorsements from a number of politically well-connected people. But this race will come down to numbers...and small ones at that. Fewer than 4,000 people are expected to vote in Saturday's run-off to decide who will represent the 93,000 registered
voters in the district.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...