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Brings Empathy, Experience, and a Strong Work Ethic to His New Role as Mayor of Houston

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John Whitmire was elected Mayor of the City of Houston on December 9, 2023 and was sworn into office on January 2, 2024. Prior to becoming Houston’s 63rd Mayor, he had been a State Representative for 10 years and a State Senator for 40 years. A public servant all his life, Mayor Whitmire is known for his commitment to diversity in public service, advocating for voting rights, and his support of all Texans from all walks of life. As the long-serving chair of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, Mayor Whitmire implemented intelligent improvements, led grand jury reform, organized efforts to decriminalize school behavior, and expunged thousands of class C misdemeanors from the records of young Texans. Being fair and keeping Texans and Houstonians safe are of the utmost importance to him.

CKW LUXE had the honor of speaking with Mayor Whitmire about, among other things, what being elected means to him, what his early days in office have been like, the benefits he brings to the city, and what his expectations are for himself as Mayor.

CKW LUXE: Congratulations on being elected to the office of the Mayor of Houston. Can you tell our readers what the honor of being elected Mayor of Houston means to you?

Mayor Whitmire: I consider it special to be the CEO, or certainly, the mayor of the fourth largest city in the United States— Texas’s largest. I’ve worked city government for many years as a State Senator. I’ve worked with seven mayors, actually nine mayors, and lots of city officials partnering in Austin on public safety . . . so to be able to come and now have this role, instead of being a legislator, is special. It gives me an opportunity to use my experience and contacts and move Houston forward. I’m really excited; I look forward to coming to work each day. I am very busy . . . it’s more than a full-time job, but it’s something I look forward to each day. It’s an honor.

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CKW: Since being in office less than 100 days now, what have been your priorities and accomplishments?

MW: Well, public safety, and I have to deal with events that are out of my control. I know what it’s like to work with council each Tuesday and Wednesday, but it’s the freeze we had during my first week in office, the tragedy at Lakewood, and other challenges . . . so those are things not on my schedule that I have to spend time on, and research, and try to resolve. The firefighters’ negotiations took a lot of time and that’s been successfully negotiated . . . The challenges didn’t just show up. They’ve been here for years: the infrastructure, we know we’ve got to do better with our streets and drainage. . . My responsibility is to fix it; let Houstonians know what our challenges are and then what I propose as solutions. I care about people, or I wouldn’t have ever run for mayor.

CKW: You are working very long days to make this city better and stronger, how are you balancing your work with your time off?

MW: Not very good . . . If there is something I need to improve, it’s spending more time with my grand kids, Little League games, exercising more, more time to read, and thinking time. Because I’m so involved in working with staff, contacts, and Houstonians, I leave very little time for myself.

CKW: If you can choose one thing you learned while you were growing up that helped prepare you for life as a public servant, what would it be?

MW: Treat people the way you want to be treated.

CKW: You were a State Representative for 10 years and a State Senator for 40 years. How do you think those positions served as valuable experience for the position of mayor?

MW: To begin with, contacts, so I can talk to people in Austin, the Austin State Leadership. I help the city by networking, working across the aisle, and getting things done. So, the contacts and then the experience—what to do with the information you get. So I get additional resources for Houston from Austin. It just works. It’s of value.

CKW: Is there an accomplishment you achieved as a State Senator that you are especially proud of? If so, can you tell us what it is and why you feel it is important?

MW: My commitment to public safety. I chaired the Criminal Justice Committee for 30 years to work to make our criminal laws more effective and also to assist people in turning their lives around. Drug and alcohol treatment, mental health services, to hold people accountable if they’re violent, but also to give people a second chance if they just made mistakes and they want to turn their lives around. So, working with public safety is probably one of my proudest accomplishments.

CKW: Our readers would be interested in knowing why you decided to run for mayor after serving the people for so long in the senate.

MW: It was the decision that I could get more done here than in Austin. I loved being a State Senator, but I also love Houston more, so when Houstonians asked me to run, I answered the call. It’s just that simple. I weighed whether I could be more effective in Austin at this stage in my career or come back and lead the city. I made the decision that by being Mayor of Houston I could get things done. At this point in Houston’s history and my career, it was kind of a partnership. Really, the answer is Houstonians’ calls. I was asked by Houstonians to consider running.

CKW: Finally, we would be fascinated to know what expectations you have for yourself as the Mayor of Houston in the coming year. Is there any one thing you hope to see yourself accomplish before 2025?

MW: Bring people together. We have a great city and we have great people, and we celebrate our diversity, but it’s also good to keep in mind there are some things we just need to unite behind. And that would be: city services, inclusiveness, continue our diversity, but also bring people together and set aside our differences for what would be best for Houston. I want to let everybody be a part of the city’s efforts. My goal is unity and to bring people together. I want City Hall to look like Houston. I want everybody at the table. My mission is to bring everyone, every community, to the table. Don’t just talk about it. I’m results oriented.

Mayor Whitmire is devoted to the city of Houston and to the people who live in it. When they asked him to run for mayor, he decided it was the right thing to do for the city, for them, and for himself. He understood that his many years serving Texas in the State Senate would be advantageous to the position of Mayor of Houston to help move the city forward. He also understands there is work to be done to bring the people of Houston together, and he believes he is the person to make that happen. Houstonians believe it, too.

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