Standing before dozens of Sheila Jackson Lee supporters on a sweltering afternoon Thursday in Mickey Leland Memorial Park, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo endorsed the 28-year congresswoman for mayor of Houston.
“If there’s somebody who can take the heat on behalf of the communities in Houston Harris County, it is Sheila Jackson Lee,” Hidalgo said to cheers from the crowd.
With Mayor Sylvester Turner stepping down because of term limits and at least 10 declared candidates seeking to replace him, Hidalgo joins a coalition of local unions in supporting Jackson Lee’s campaign, including the Houston Federation of Teachers.
Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who attended Thursday’s event, has also publicly pledged his support of Jackson Lee.
John Whitmire, a longtime State Senator who officially launched his mayoral bid at Minute Maid Park last week, has also received an endorsement from the Houston Police Officer’s Union.
Hidalgo praised Jackson Lee’s work in Congress, citing her efforts to bring federal relief dollars to all of Houston and Harris County, not just her own district, in the wake of natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hidalgo said they also shared the same vision to reduce crime by “adopting policies that actually work,” and not just repeating tactics from the 1980s and 90s.
Highlighting Jackson Lee’s connections to leaders in the federal government, Hidalgo said there could not be a better candidate to defend Houston and Harris County’s autonomy than the congresswoman.
“We know in Texas [that] Harris County is under attack,” Hidalgo said. “They’ve come after our voting rights; they’ve come after flood funding; they’ve come after our ability to raise revenue — our largest school district. We need that fighter, and Sheila Jackson Lee has never been one to shy away from us.”
After thanking Hidalgo for her endorsement, Jackson Lee took to the podium to discuss her years of bipartisan work that she said has benefited not just the 18th Congressional district, but all of Houston.
“For 28 years I have been this city’s congresswoman,” she said.
Jackson Lee spoke about her work championing diversity. She took time to recognize that the endorsement was taking place at the Mickey Leland memorial, which commemorates a congressman whom Jackson Lee said was ahead of his time in recognizing the importance of diversity. Leland died in a plane crash while on a relief mission in Ethiopia in 1989.
Leland, she said, was an example of the importance of working across the political divide. Something she said she has done throughout her career.
“Test me on working with Republicans,” she said to a laugh from the crowd, listing names of Republican lawmakers she has collaborated with, from former Gov. Rick Perry to George W. Bush to Donald Trump.
Jackson Lee ended her remarks by highlighting the importance of listening to communities across the city.
She said that as mayor she would see the good in every neighborhood, and that Houstonians deserve a mayor who cares for the wellbeing of all.