With backing of firefighters, Boykins scrambles Houston mayor’s race

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Photo: TMC

This week, City Council Member Dwight Boykins filed paperwork to run for Houston Mayor and on Thursday welcomed the endorsement of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.

In a statement, Boykins thanked HPFFA for their support and said, “One of my top priorities as mayor will be to ensure that public safety is properly supported and funded in Houston.”

A Democrat representing south Houston, Boykins will now join two other major candidates challenging Mayor Sylvester Turner, who received the firefighter’s endorsement in 2015.

“It’s bad news for Sylvester Turner,” Mark Jones, a Rice University political science professor told the Texas Signal.

“This race will go to a runoff. The only question now is who those two individuals in the runoff are going to be,” Jones said.

Before Boykins entered the race, Turner was facing two Republican-leaning candidates by himself: high-profile lawyer Tony Buzbee and former opponent and businessman Bill King.

Now, Turner will have to compete for the Democrat and African American electorate with Boykins, Jones said.

In 2015, Turner received 85 percent of the vote from District D, an area of Houston with a significant African-American population and the district which Boykins represents. No other district in Houston came out in higher numbers than D to support Turner’s first run for mayor.

“Boykins entering this race means that Turner is going to have to compete for the African American vote,” Jones said. “He’s certainly isn’t going to be able to win the 80 or 95 percent had Boykins not been in the race.”

In recent months, Boykins has made headlines for sparring with Turner over Proposition B and firefighter pay issues.

In March, he brought the City Council agenda to a grinding halt over 68 firefighter cadets who had not been promoted because of the city’s hiring freeze.

Boykins repeated the fillibuster-style tactic two weeks later while pushing for a garbage collection fee to prevent nearly 400 firefighter layoffs; Turner opposed the measure and said the fee would hurt the poorest of Houstonians.

In the end, Texas District Court Judge Tanya Garrison ruled that Prop. B violated the Texas Constitution. Following the ruling, Turner said there would be no layoffs. 

“Are firefighters deserving of a pay raise? The answer is, ‘Yes,’ he said. “Is this administration committing to offer a pay raise to them? The answer is, ‘Yes.’”

Former city council member and LGBTQ community leader Sue Lovell is also considering entering the mayor’s race. The election takes place on Nov. 5. 

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