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Houston’s next mayor will be a CLASS alumnus

Run-off contenders Sylvester Turner and Bill King both under political science bachelor’s degrees at UH

Turner / King

The next mayor of Houston will be a CLASS alumnus.

The Nov. 3 mayoral election ended without any of the 18 candidates vying to lead the largest city in Texas garnering 50 percent of the vote, forcing the top two vote getters to continue their campaigns with a run-off election race.

State Rep. Sylvester Turner finished first in the race with 32 percent of the counted ballots. Former Kemah mayor Bill King came in second with 25 percent of the vote.

Both men earned bachelor’s degrees in political science at the University of Houston – so no matter the outcome of the run-off election, a CLASS alumnus will be elected mayor of the City of Houston.

“We are extremely proud of these UH Political Science alumni, both of whom already have distinguished public service records,” said Dr. Susan Scarrow, chair of the Department of Political Science. “The UH Political Science department has a long tradition of helping students prepare to make a positive difference in their communities by offering politically relevant classes and meaningful internship opportunities.  These mayoral candidates exemplify the best of that tradition, and their careers are helping to inspire current UH students.”

While attending UH, Turner was Speaker of the Student Senate. He graduated magna cum laude from UH and earned his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1980.

After law school, he joined the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski. In 1983, Turner founded his own law firm, Barnes & Turner, where he continues to represent clients.   He was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1989 and served as a Democratic member of the legislative body for 25 years.

King graduated cum laude from UH in 1974, making him the first person in his family to graduate from college. He continued his education at UH and earned his law degree at the UH Law Center in 1978. 

His law career includes stints at Bracewell & Guiliani and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson. A registered Republican, King served in various positions with the City of Kemah including the Kemah Economic Development Corporation, City Council and two terms as Mayor from 1992-2004. And, he wrote a weekly column on politics and public policy for the Houston Chronicle from 2010 to 2014.

The early voting dates for the run-off election are set for December 2 through December 8 and the run-off Election Day is scheduled for Saturday, December 12.

The candidate elected as mayor will serve a four-year term as Houston’s next mayor since the Houston electorate passed on Nov. 3 the ballot measure to change the term limits for city elected officials to two four-year terms in office from three two-year terms.

Former Houston mayors educated at the University of Houston are:

  • Roy Mark Hofheinz, who studied at Rice University and the University of Houston before graduating from the Houston Law School at age 19, according to the Handbook of Texas Online. He served as mayor from 1953 to 1955.
  • Kathy Whitmire, who earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and a Master of Accountancy from UH. The first woman elected as Houston’s City Controller and as its Mayor, Whitmire served as mayor from 1982 to 1991.

- By Shannon Buggs