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Amanda Edwards, the 2020 Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former member of the Houston City Council, is running for mayor of the city, a contest that is already garnering statewide attention despite being over a year away.
The field already includes two names well-known in Texas politics: veteran state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, and Chris Hollins, the former Harris County clerk who oversaw election changes in 2020 that became a lightning rod for Republicans. They are competing to replace term-limited Mayor Sylvester Turner in the November 2023 election, which is nonpartisan.
“As a native Houstonian and as someone who has a very deep passion and high level of experience in the city, my reason for running for mayor is to make sure that we are tackling some of the city’s challenges but also seizing some of the opportunities,” Edwards said in an interview. She added that Houston, the largest city in Texas and the fourth-biggest in the country, is “at a crossroads.”
If elected, Edwards would be the first Black woman to lead the city.
Edwards said her top issues will be preventing flooding, increasing economic opportunity and combating crime. Like other major cities, she said, Houston has seen a rise in crime, “and we need to make sure that we have enough law-enforcement officers in the communities, not just to improve response times but also create” better relations with those communities.
Edwards served on the Houston City Council in an at-large position from 2016-20. She ran in the 12-way Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and came in fifth.
Edwards is entering what is likely to be a high-octane competition. Whitmire has represented Houston in the Senate since 1983, making him the most senior member, and he has $11 million saved up in his state campaign account. He just fended off a Senate primary challenge in March from Molly Cook, an emergency-room nurse who attacked him for running for reelection to the Legislature while also having his sights on City Hall.
Hollins, meanwhile, made a name for himself during a monthslong stint as interim Harris County clerk in the lead-up to the November 2020 election. He responded to the coronavirus pandemic by doing things like introducing drive-thru voting and trying to send mail-in ballot applications to every registered voter in the county. The Republican-led Legislature eventually outlawed those tactics as part of a hard-fought bill that Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law last year.
Edwards said she plans to stand out with her background in municipal finance, an issue she specialized in as a lawyer before entering public service. She also pointed to her time on the council and regular presence in the city’s communities, “instead of just going door-to-door when it’s time for campaign season.” And noting the nonpartisan nature of the election, she said she intends to “build a very broad coalition because of the issues.”
After the 2020 U.S. Senate primary, Edwards endorsed one of the runoff candidates, state Sen. Royce West of Dallas. He lost to eventual nominee MJ Hegar by a small margin, and Cornyn defeated her by 10 percentage points that November.