When it comes to politics, I generally have no interest in the politics. However, when it comes to the political process and exercising the right to vote, I am very interested. More than this, I want my kids to understand what is happening in the City of Houston.
We have voted and we have discussed the process, but the more questions the kids asked, the more unclear the process seemed. So we interviewed the candidates and this is what we learned.
City of Houston Elections
Every four years (was two years), Houston holds elections for the office of Mayor, Comptroller and City Council. The City Council has 16 members. Eleven of these positions are elected from districts (districts A through K) and each represents a specific area of Houston. Five of the city council positions are elected "at large" and represent the entire city.
When you go to vote, you will be able to vote for the mayor, comptroller, all at-large city council members, and the one city council member that represents your district. So, if you live in district D, you will vote for the mayor, comptroller, city council at-large 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and city council district D. (You may also vote for other positions, but we'll get to that later.)
Once elected, each person serves for four years (which used to be two years). After four years, the person must run for re-election. After serving for two terms in the same office, the person can no longer run for that office. They may run for another office. For example, after serving three two-year terms, a city council member could run for mayor.
The mayor, comptroller and city council are all on the same election schedule.
HCC & HISD Elections
In addition to mayor, comptroller and city council members, you may have a few other elected positions on your ballot. To get a preview of your ballot, go HERE.
On your ballot you may see positions such as Houston Independent School District (HISD) Trustee and Houston Community College (HCC) Trustee. These positions are elected from different districts, and for different terms, than the City of Houston elected positions.
For HCC, there are nine trustees that serve staggered six year terms (similar to how U.S. Senate elections work). This means that not all of them are re-elected in any given year. Each trustee is elected from the district they represent. There is no limit to the number of terms an HCC Trustee can serve. If a person is re-elected every six years, they can be a trustee indefinitely if that person so chooses.
For HISD, there are nine trustees that serve staggered four year terms. Each trustee is elected from the district they represent. To find the district that you live in, go HERE. Note that if your children do not attend their zoned school (i.e., if your children are in a magnet program), the trustee in charge of the school may be different than the trustee you find on your ballot. You ballot will list your trustee based on where you live. There is no limit to the number of terms an HISD Trustee can serve.
Voting is easy in Houston. You can Early Vote or you can vote on Election Day. You can also vote by mail. A photo ID is required and children are allowed to accompany the parent.
In order to vote, you must be registered. If you are not, you must do this at least 30 days before the election date. Go HERE for information on registering to vote.
If you are looking for a nonpartisan overview of each candidate on the ballot, look for the League of Women Voters Voter’s Guide at your local library or go HERE.