AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today announced a special runoff election to fill the vacancy in Texas Senate District 17 will be held Dec. 16.

District 17 includes portions of Harris, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, and Jefferson counties.

A special election to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Sen. Kyle Janek was held during the Nov. 4 general election.

In the runoff, Democrat Chris Bell will face Republican Joan Huffman.

On Nov. 4, Bell received more votes than Huffman, but did not reach the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff election.

Early voting for the runoff will be held from Dec. 8 through Dec. 12.

The winner of this special election will serve out the remainder of Janek's term, which expires in January 2011.

Huffman graduated from Louisiana State University and then moved to Houston where she went to work as a secretary in the Harris County District Attorneys Office.

While working she went to law school at night at the South Texas College of Law. After earning her law degree, she became a prosecutor for the Harris County DA.

In 1998, she was elected as judge of the 183rd Criminal District Court in Houston. She has not held public office since 2005.

Bell was born in Abilene and grew up in Dallas. He received a degree in journalism from the University of Texas and worked in radio and television for several years.

In 1992, Bell graduated from the South Texas College of Law in Houston and began a litigation practice. He was elected to Houston City Council in 1997 and passed campaign finance and ethics reform bills on the Ethics Committee.

In November 2002 he was elected to Congress. He lost his bid for reelection after 2003 redistricting. Bell filed an ethics complaint against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, in June 2004.

Janek, a Republican, held the District 17 seat from 2003 until June 2, 2008, when he resigned. Gov. Perry called a special election to coincide with the regular Nov. 4 general election.

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