Apr 22, 2024 - News

What's on Harris County's May 4 ballot

Illustration of a pencil filling in a ballot with the checkbox in the shape of the state of Texas.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Early voting begins Monday for the May 4 election.

Why it matters: It's expected to be a low-turnout election, although the results could have an outsized impact on property taxes and Houston's representation in Austin.

Driving the news: In Harris County, voters for the first time will elect three board positions for the Harris Central Appraisal District, which determines annual property valuations based on market values, for tax purposes.

  • The change comes after lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2 last year, approved by voters in the fall, creating three elected board seats in counties with populations over 75,000, to increase accountability.

What they're saying: Bill author Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) said the election isn't meant to politicize the board. "Just totally reject that concept," he told the Texas Tribune. "That's utterly false on its face."

  • However, state Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) told the Austin Chronicle this month that the appraisal district elections were "a calculated effort to bring in more conservative and Republican viewpoints into the taxation process."

Of note: The seats are nonpartisan, meaning voters will not see party affiliations on the ballot.

Meanwhile, voters in Texas Senate District 15 will choose between community organizer and emergency room nurse Molly Cook and State Rep. Jarvis Johnson to fill new Mayor John Whitmire's vacated Senate seat for the rest of the year.

  • The same two candidates will also square off in the May 28 Democratic primary runoff election to determine who will be on the November ballot for the term that starts in 2025.

What's next: Polls are open for early voting through Tuesday, April 30.

  • Here's a list of Harris County's 25 early voting locations.
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