(CNN) — CNN confirms Texas state senator John Whitmire, who defeated US representative Sheila Jackson Lee in a runoff on Saturday to become the next mayor of Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city, will take office.
"As you are all aware, this is just the start of the real challenge ahead of us, but my sole motivation for running was to change things. Whitmire posted on social media, saying, "I'm eager to get started.
Both Democrats Whitmire and Jackson Lee were compelled to enter the runoff after neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote in the closely watched first round of the formally nonpartisan election held last month.
Whitmire, 74, will take over for the term-limited Sylvester Turner, a former state legislator from the Democratic Party who supported Jackson Lee during the primary.
Whitmire called for improved ties between Houston and the Republican-controlled state government while running on a platform of decreasing crime and enhancing city services and infrastructure.
"All I want to do is finish the tasks. I don't make problems personal. He stated, "I see the problem, and I search for solutions," during a recent ABC13-hosted debate. "Hawaiians, not powerbrokers, wanted me to get more involved in the issues and use my connections and skills to make things happen.
Whitmire has spent more than 50 years as a member of the Texas legislature. After winning election to the state Senate ten years after his first election to the state House in 1972, he is currently the longest-serving member of the legislature. US Representative Sylvia Garcia, who represents the Houston area, as well as two former mayors of the city—Lee Brown, the first Black man to lead the city, and Annise Parker, the second female and first out-gay mayor—endorsed him. In addition, he got the support of other local law enforcement agencies and Jack Christie, a Republican who finished fourth in last month's mayoral contest and former member of the Houston City Council.
His campaign was supported by the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle, which praised his practicality and experience in the Texas legislature. It stated, "He makes up for what he lacks in youthful pep or pigment in connections and know-how."
Jackson Lee, 73, a representative for Texas' 18th Congressional District, was previously a Houston municipal judge and member of the Houston City Council before winning his first election to the US House in 1994. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo all endorsed her.