Ora Houston not running for re-election


Breaking news in my inbox. Press release from CM Ora Houston:

Council Member Ora Houston, District #1, has decided after months of personal discernment and conversations with confidants, that she will not seek a second term on the City Council.
“It has been a joy, privilege and a huge responsibility to represent the ‘blended family’ of District #1,” said Houston. “Over the next seven months there are major issues to address and votes to take which will impact our City for generations, and the individuals who live here now and in the future.”  

Ora Houston has been the least predictable vote on the dais. I described her idiosyncratic views in a profile a few months ago for Towers.

UPDATE: Vincent Harding has declared he is running for District 1. Some insiders believe he is the new frontrunner. It’s unclear what his position on housing/CodeNEXT is, although it seems likely that his announcement was coordinated with Houston’s announcement that she wasn’t running again. If I had to guess, Harding has Houston’s support.

Here’s him talking to the Chronicle:

“We are at a pivotal moment, 90 years from the 1928 plan, in the middle of a land development code rewrite,” Harding said last week when he revealed his plans to the Chronicle. “At a time where we are consistently one of the Top 10 places to live, we are also one of the most economically and racially segregated cities in the country and … a third of our black and brown children are growing up in poverty.”

Before I knew about Harding’s candidacy, I interpreted Houston dropping out of the race as a big blow to the neighborhood preservationist bloc on City Council. Houston is one of four reliable anti-growth votes on the dais.

The other candidates  in the race are much friendlier to increasing housing.

One candidate, Natasha Harper-Madison, expresses a much more urbanist outlook on things, and unlike Houston, she’s a big fan of bikes.

Another candidate, Mariana Salazar, is the director of the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition and says nothing on her campaign website about neighborhood character; that’s a bad sign for the neighborhood bloc.

It’s not clear yet whether Lewis Conway Jr., the fourth candidate, will even be allowed on the ballot due to his felony conviction. He has described himself as a socialist; it’s not clear what his opinion is about increasing the amount of market-rate housing.


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