By Charlotte Aguilar
Early voting starts Monday (Oct. 23) and runs through Nov. 3 on a ballot heavy with state and local interest.
While municipal elections in Bellaire and Houston are getting most of the attention, 14 proposed state constitutional amendments touching on a broad array of issues will be decided on Election Day Nov. 7.
If it’s needed – and the three-way mayor’s race in Bellaire makes that possible locally – a runoff would be held on Saturday Dec. 16, according to Bellaire City Secretary Tracy Dutton.
The legislature-generated measures range from a measure to raise the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000 and another requiring voter approval for any “wealth taxes” to be imposed. Others would raise the mandatory retirement age for state judges from 75 to 79 and grant a cost-of-living increase to retired teachers.
In Bellaire, voters will be choosing a new mayor, with four-times-elected Andrew Friedberg reaching his term limits. Two veteran city officials, former Mayor Pro Tem Gus Pappas and current Councilmember Nathan Wesely are in a race with political newcomer Aaron Perry, who has his own local law firm and has raised more than $50,000 in Bellaire and outside contributions for his campaign — with his opponents detailing a combined total of less than $10,000 raised, in first campaign reporting.
Each of the three Bellaire council seats has a contested race, with Catherine Lewis in Position 2 the only incumbent running.
Bellaire•West University Essentials magazine and EssentialsNews.com are providing our usual voter’s guide, with names appearing in the order they will on the ballot after a drawing at City Hall. All candidates responded to requests for information about their backgrounds, reasons for running, submitted questions to ask other candidates, and responded to the final set of questions culled from the submissions.
Bellaire voters are also being asked to approve the sale of the old 72.5-acre Ruffino Hills landfill the city once shared with West U, in far southwest Houston. West U sold its portion to the city of Houston last December for $10.5 million, to be used for stormwater detention.
Harris County has a bond measure on the ballot, seeking voter approval of the sale of $2.5 billion in bonds for hospital expansion and renovation.
And in perhaps the most surreal election, four seats on the Houston ISD board of trustees are up for grabs, only two contested and on the ballot in their districts (the District V seat representing Bellaire-West U is not up for re-election). The election must be held by law even though the board was disbanded with the state’s takeover of the district in June.
EARLY VOTING LOCATIONS (subject to change)
- HCC West Loop Campus – Room C108A/B
5601 W Loop South, Houston (across from Pin Oak MS)
- Bayland Park Community Center – Auditorium
6400 Bissonnet St
- Galleria: Marriott West Loop, Topaz Room
1750 W Loop South
NRG Arena – Hall D (Gate 9 entry)
1 NRG Pkwy
- Texas Medical Center: John P McGovern Commons – 1st Floor
6550 Bertner Ave.
- Downtown: Harris County Attorney Conference Center
1019 Congress Avenue
7 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 23-28, Oct. 3, Nov. 3; 12 noon-7 p.m. Oct. 29
- Polling places & hours, regulations, sample ballots at Harris Votes
- Bellaire election information, candidates’ filings
- Nonpartisan interpretation of ballot measures, candidates’ statements, Houston League of Women Voters Houston Voters Guide