(From left to right: Art Fierro, Melissa Noriega, Christina Morales)
Two special elections for the Texas House — District 79 in El Paso and District 145 in Houston — were held on Tuesday, January 29th and the results are in.
El Paso Community College Board Member Art Fierro won last night’s special election for House District 79 outright. He received 2,514 votes (53.3 percent) against two challengers. Second place finisher former El Paso City Representative Michiel Noe received 1,256 votes (26.7 percent), while the lone Republican candidate, Hans Sassenfeld, finished third with 943 votes (20 percent).
In District 145, two Democrats advanced to a runoff election. Small businesswoman Christina Morales led last night’s voting, receiving 1,238 votes (35.8 percent) against seven challengers, well short of the 50 percent +1 vote threshold to avoid a runoff, which is expected to take place in early to mid-March. Second place finisher, former State Representative and Houston City Council Member Melissa Noriega, received 1,077 votes (31.1 percent), while the lone Republican candidate, Martha Fierro, finished third with 872 votes (25.2 percent). Elias De La Garza finished fourth with 99 votes (2.9 percent); Oscar Del Toro finished fifth with 96 votes (2.8 percent); Libertarian Clayton Hunt finished sixth with 33 votes (0.9 percent); Alfred Moreno finished seventh with 32 votes (0.9 percent); and Ruben Gonsalez finished eight with 13 votes (0.4 percent).
Voter turnout in both special elections was sparse. Just 3,460 (4.8 percent) of House District 145’s 73,000 registered voters cast a ballot in the election. 144 special election voters (4.2 percent) cast their ballot by mail, while 1,439 (41.6 percent) voted early in person. 1,877 voters (54.2 percent) voted on Election Day – Tuesday, January 29th.
In House District 79, 4,748 (5.4 percent) of the district’s 88,000 registered voters cast a ballot in the election. 707 special election voters (14.9 percent) cast their ballot by mail, while 2,078 (43.8 percent) voted early in person. 1,963 voters (41.3 percent) voted on Election Day – Tuesday, January 29th.
The Texas House District 79 special election was called by Governor Greg Abbott when Joe Pickett stepped down in December, after a cancer diagnosis. The district is located in central and northeast El Paso County, including the El Paso International Airport and Fort Bliss.
The Texas House District 145 special election was called by Governor Abbott after former Rep. Carol Alvarado won a December 11 special election for Texas Senate District 6. Texas House District 145 is located Harris County, and runs diagonally along Interstate Highway 45 from Houston Heights to Southbelt/Ellington, picking up the Greater East End, parts of Pasadena, and the city of South Houston.
Once results of the two elections are certified, Art Fierro will be sworn in as the District 79 representative, and Gov. Abbott will schedule a runoff election for District 145. Early voting in a third special election is underway in District 125 in San Antonio.
Once Fierro is sworn in, the Texas House of Representatives will have filled 148 of its 150 seats, with 83 Republicans and 65 Democrats.
Reform Austin will continue to follow and report on developments related to Texas House District 79, 125, 145 and the current 86th legislative session.