Ryan Holeywell | @RyanHoleywell | December 22, 2015
Here in Houston, we’ve been focused on our mayoral election, since we’ll have our first new mayor in 6 years after Annise Parker was term limited.
But Houston’s not alone. Eight major U.S. cities got new mayors as a result of the November elections. Here’s the new crop of lawmakers leading the country’s biggest cities.
Salt Lake City – Jackie Biskupski
Biskupski was the first openly-gay member of the Utah state house, and now she becomes the first openly-gay mayor of Salt Lake City. She defeated Ralph Becker, a two-term incumbent, in a narrow race. Biskupski focused on addressing homelessness and crime during her election campaign.
Memphis – Jim Strickland
Strickland, the chairman of the Memphis City Council, defeated incumbent Mayor A.C. Wharton, who had held office since 2009. A lawyer, Strickland’s campaign focused on addressing the city’s population loss, improving pre-K education, and reducing crime. Wharton faced ongoing controversy when it was revealed his campaign manager won a $900,000 public relations technology with Taser, the city’s body-camera supplier.
Indianapolis – Joe Hogsett
Incumbent Mayor Greg Ballard has led the city since 2008, but he opted not to run for re-election. Hogsett, a former U.S. Attorney, won the Democratic primary in May before winning the general election last month. Ballard was a Republican, so Indianapolis no longer has the distinction of being one of the few big cities with a Republican mayor.
Charlotte – Jennifer Roberts
The mayor’s office in Charlotte has been a merry-go-round as of late. When Roberts assumed office in December, she became the city’s fifth mayor since 2013. The slew of leaders was because former Mayor Anthony Foxx left mid-term to become U.S. Scretary of Transportation, and former Mayor Patrick Cannon was arrested shortly after taking office. Roberts, a former diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, previously served on the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners.
Columbus, Ohio – Andrew Ginther
Ginther received the endorsement of longtime Mayor Michael Coleman, who was first elected in 1999 and opted not to run for re-election. When he became city council president in 2011, he was the youngest person to hold that position. He has a long background in Columbus politics. He also serves as vice president for community affairs and outreach at the Ohio nonprofit Children’s Hunger Alliance.
Philadelphia – Jim Kenney
Kenney served as a member of the Philadelphia City Council from 1992 to 2015. He won both the general elections and Democratic primaries handily. Incumbent Mayor Michael Nutter, who served two terms, was term-limited and unable to run. Kenney voiced support for public schools and police reforms during the campaign, and he emphasizes his promise to fight poverty.
Charleston, S.C. – John Tecklenburg
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is the dean of American Mayors, having held the office since 1975. But Riley announce during his 2011 campaign that it would be his last, leaving Charleston poised to get its first new mayor in 40 years. Tecklenburg, a commercial real estate agent who previously served as Riley’s economic development director, defeated a state representative to win the seat. He said he will work to improve basic city services.
Houston – Sylvester Turner
The third time was a charm for Turner, a state representative whose previous efforts to win the mayor’s office in 1991 and 2003 were unsuccessful. He takes over for outgoing Mayor Annise Parker, who was term limited after three terms in office. Turner, an attorney who earned his degree from Harvard Law School, ran as a progressive against businessman Bill King in the runoff election.