Early voting begins for District 17 runoff between Bell, Huffman

By Marilyn Tennissen | Dec 8, 2008

Joan Huffman (R)

If the election were up to Jefferson County voters alone, Democrat Chris Bell would already be the new state senator for District 17.

The Houston attorney received 57 percent of the votes in Jefferson County during the November general election.

But voters in the rest of the six counties that make up the district did not give Bell the majority of votes he needed, so the race is not over. Bell is in runoff against Republican Joan Huffman.

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

Early voting begins today for the Dec. 16 runoff election.

In the general election, Bell received 38 percent of the votes in the six counties compared to Huffman's 26 percent.

Because neither received more than 50 percent district wide, the two are still battling to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Kyle Janek, who resigned in May.

Early voting in Jefferson County will be from Monday, Dec. 8, through Friday, Dec. 12.

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.

Early voting locations

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday

  • Jefferson County Courthouse, 1001 Pearl St., Beaumont
  • Jefferson County Sub-courthouse, 525 Lakeshore Drive, Port Arthur
  • Port Arthur Public Library, 4615 Ninth Ave., Port Arthur

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