8 file in special election to replace Carol Alvarado; 3 sign up for Joe Pickett's seat

There will be special elections on Jan. 29 in two Texas House districts to fill vacant seats, and the filing deadline was 5 p.m. Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, and state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso.
U.S. Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, and state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso.  Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Eight candidates have filed for the Jan. 29 special election to replace former state Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, while three have signed up for a separate special election — on the same day —to succeed state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, according to the Texas secretary of state's office.

The deadline was 5 p.m. Thursday to file to run in the two reliably Democratic districts.

In House District 145, the crowded field is competing for the seat once held by Alvarado, who won a promotion to the upper chamber last month. The candidates include six Democrats, a Republican and Libertarian. Among the more prominent names:

  • Democrat Christina Morales, a funeral home owner who is using the top operatives from Alvarado's Senate campaign last month
  • Democrat Melissa Noriega, a former Houston City Council member who took over the HD-145 seat in 2005 while her husband at the time, incumbent Rick Noriega, served in Afghanistan
  • Republican Martha Fierro, who finished third last month in the special election that Alvarado won to succeed ex-state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston

The other five candidates are Democrats Oscar Del Toro, Ruben Gonsalez, Elias De La Garza and Alfred Moreno, as well as Libertarian Clayton Hunt.

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Meanwhile, the special election in HD-79 is for the seat vacated by Pickett, who is resigning effective Friday due to health issues. The three candidates are Democrat Art Fierro, chairman of the El Paso Community College board; Democrat Michiel Noe, an outgoing member of the El Paso City Council; and Republican Hans Sassenfeld, an activist.

Fierro has emerged with an early advantage in the race, earning the endorsements of every member of the El Paso delegation to the Legislature beside Pickett.

Early voting in both races begins Jan. 14.