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Houston Council re-elects Gonzalez as Vice Mayor, Davis, as Vice Mayor Pro tem

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Houston City Council held its first meeting shortly after 11:00 AM Wednesday Jan 2, following the inauguration ceremony at the Wortham Theater Center. Council members and staff were shuttled to City Hall. But for those who are unfamiliar with down-town Houston, it takes only 10 minutes to walk from one builing to the other.

The formal agenda was short, but necessary. The newly sworn in council must elect a Mayor Pro Tem and a Vice Mayor Pro-tem. The primary task of the Mayor Pro Temis to preside in the absence of the Mayor, and the Vice Mayor Pro-tem is takes the chair if both the Mayor and Vice Mayor are unavailable. But beyond the public functions, both have substantial roles in assisting the Mayor and Council with the administration of the agenda and vetting appointments. Traditionally, the Mayor's choice is nominated and approved, as was the case on Wednesday.

Ed Gonzalez (District H) was re-elected as Vice Mayor, with a supporting statement by Council Member Oliver Pennington. Council Member Jerry Davis (District B) was nominated by outgoing Vice Mayor Pro Tem C.O. Bradford (at large 4).

The seating arrangement of the horseshoe reflected the changes in seniority. Ellen Cohen (District C) will now occupy the position of 2 seats from the Mayor, formerly occupied by Melissa Noriega (at large 3). Newly elected Michael Kubosh (at large 3) will have the last seat on the right, formerly occupied by Ms. Helena Brown, next to newly elected Richard Nguyen, and two from the City Attorney.

After completing the agenda, the Council members continued the tradition of introducing their family, friends, and staff, who made up most of the audience in attendance in order of position.

While the change in personnel will result in a different dynamic, it would be premature to predict any substantial changes in the way the Council will function. The vast majority of ordinances involve non-controversial matters such as contract approvals, accepting work on infrastructure projects, payments for easements, and approvals of TIRZ budgets. Most debates are likely to concern details or explanations of legal technicalities. The first regular meeting of Council will be next Tuesday, January 7.

Following the meeting, Mayor Parker held her first press conference of the year. Primarily, she restated themes she has raised in the past and fielded questions about perceptions of her last term and the new council.

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