John Whitmire, the Dean of the Texas Senate, has served his community his entire adult life.
As a young boy, John worked odd jobs and learned the value of hard work, even shining shoes at a Harrisburg Beer Hall. He also witnessed domestic abuse and moved frequently as a child.
When a fire burned down his family home, the community wrapped their arms around him, donating clothes and providing shelter. That lesson in compassion and empathy would guide him as a public servant.
In his teenage years, Whitmire settled into a more stable life in Houston with his mother, a nurse, and his stepfather, a social worker. Watching his parents help people as public servants steered John towards a career path of service.
After graduating from Waltrip High School, he soon began working for the Texas “Food Stamp” office, at the time a nutrition initiative for poor families. The case numbers became people and families when he was sent out to do house visits. These real-life interactions would become the base for how John would analyze and shape policies.
At the age of 22, a chance meeting with his UH professor, the legendary Richard Murray, presented the precocious Whitmire with the chance to run for a newly drawn Texas House District. The new single-member district showed his home, high school, church, and hospital where his mother worked.
“It looks like they drew that one for me,” Whitmire recalled. And in that moment, his journey as a public servant was solidified.
Throughout his career as a State Representative for 10 years and State Senator for 40, Whitmire has fought tirelessly for district representation across Houston. Notably, he played a key role in establishing the first Latino state senate district in Harris County and has been a staunch advocate for expanding access to early voting in person and Election Day polling locations in African American and Latino communities. His commitment to LGBTQ+ rights earned him the Harvey Milk Award in 1993 for his efforts against the decriminalization of the Sodomy Law. Whitmire has also been a vocal champion of women's rights, backed by a 100% voting record. He has worked tirelessly to preserve the DREAM Act, ensuring undocumented young individuals can access in-state tuition rates. Additionally, he supported workers' compensation for injured farm workers and unemployment compensation.
In a pivotal moment in his life, Whitmire and his family were robbed at gunpoint, an experience that ultimately led to his chairmanship of the Criminal Justice Committee and his fight for public safety.
As a long-serving chair of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Whitmire has demonstrated his ability to strike a balance between being tough on crime and being smart on crime by implementing intelligent reforms. He authored the Sandra Bland Act, addressing law enforcement training, jail resources, and support for individuals with mental illness, substance abuse, or intellectual differences. He also spearheaded grand jury reform, eliminating the "pick a pal" system and promoting diversity in panel selection. Additionally, he successfully led efforts to decriminalize school behavior and expunged thousands of class C misdemeanors from the records of young Texans.
When called on by the people of Houston to run for mayor, Whitmire eagerly accepted the challenge because he believes in answering the call wherever it leads. With a wealth of experience working alongside nine mayors and seven governors, he possesses invaluable knowledge in public safety, infrastructure, and effective problem-solving.
John Whitmire's extraordinary life experiences, unwavering dedication, and a proven track record in getting things done make him a true public servant committed to the well-being of Houstonians.