Tuesday, November 3, is election day for the City of Houston. Many of us have probably seen political advertisements for mayor, Proposition 1, or any number of issues. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of all the issues, and this year, the ballot is especially full. But that should not deter us from being informed and voting intelligently. Therefore, in the spirit of civic engagement, the following is an outline of who and what will be on this year’s ballot. Please follow the links for more information.
The candidates for Mayor of Houston are (each name is linked to ballotpedia.org): Chris Bell, Steve Costello, Joe Ferreira, Adrian Garcia, Bill King, Ben Hall, Victoria Lane, Rafael Munoz, Jr., Sylvester Turner, Nguyen Thai Hoc, Demetria Smith, Dale Steffes, Marty McVey
The top candidates, according to most polls, are Adrian Garcia, Sylvester Turner, Bill King, Chris Bell, and Steve Costello. You may recall that Ben Hall ran against Mayor Annise Parker last election. This mayoral election is important because it is the first one since 2009 in which Annise Parker is not a candidate.
Most of Sojourn’s members are served by representatives from City Council District C and District H. District C is served by incumbent Ellen Cohen, and District H is served by term-limited Ed Gonzalez. Here are the current candidates for each district:
The controversial HERO ordinance is on the ballot after a lengthy legal battle that ended in the Texas Supreme Court. Generally speaking, the proposed ordinance prohibits the City, private employers, and public accommodations from discriminating against people on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy. The most controversial portion of the ordinance is the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, which are not currently protected by federal law. For the upcoming election, voters will be asked whether they support the ordinance. Pay close attention to the specific language that will appear on the ballot.
Other Ballot Measures
One important measure on the ballot for Houston residents is whether citywide elective office should be limited to two successive terms. There are also elections for City Comptroller, HISD Trustees, Texas Constitutional propositions related to homestead exemptions, and county maintenance of private roads. A comprehensive, non-partisan election guide can be found here.
Why We Should Vote?
American Christians are prone to fall into two categories of thinking with respect to voting and political engagement. On the one hand, we think because Christ’s Kingdom is “not of this world,” our political engagement is of no consequence. On the other hand, we overestimate the power of politics at restraining our cultural decline. The former way of thinking leads to complete abstention from the political process. The latter leads to Moral Majority politics, where the justification of the United States before God depends upon Christian voter turnout.
The truth is that voting is an act of stewardship. By voting, we steward and exercise freedoms given to us by God, freedoms that Christian brothers and sisters around the world do not currently enjoy. In addition, voting is a tangible way that we can bless the city of Houston. In Jeremiah, the prophet encouraged the exiled Israelites to work for the good of the people in Babylon: But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:7). That admonition applies to us today, and voting is a tangible opportunity to seek the welfare of the City of Houston through its representatives, policies, and leaders.
There is no political party that best represents the totality of a Christian worldview, but we should vote in the direction that we want to see our communities go. Voting, like the rest of life, rests under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We should submit our voting decisions to God’s word, where we see most clearly what the welfare of a city truly looks like. So please mark November 3 on your calendar. And get out to vote!