Tarsha Jackson believes in the power of collaboration. She says her experience bringing people together to tackle problems will help create positive change and opportunity in District B.
“Over the years, I’ve built coalitions and pulled together organizations to tackle certain issues and get policies passed. I didn’t do it alone,” Jackson said. “That’s what I’m going to bring to the table immediately – coalition building, working collectively to drive a common agenda.”
After almost two decades of social justice work, Jackson decided to run for District B City Council to better serve the community where she grew up.
“I’m deeply rooted in the district,” she said. “I felt like we needed someone inside that was going to be that advocate for a district that has been historically left behind.
“What better way to serve my community and my district than by running for office. I know the things we can do to improve it. I have fought and challenged administrations … about things they can put in place to make our neighborhoods better.”
The District B City Council runoff will be held Saturday, Dec. 12, almost a year after it was first scheduled. Following a series of legal challenges filed by the third-place finisher, a state District judge in October ordered the runoff between the first- and second-place finishers to move forward. In the runoff, Jackson, a criminal justice organizer, will face Cynthia Bailey, a neighborhood advocate.
Jackson became an activist more than 18 years ago after her then 10-year-old son was arrested at his elementary school for a classroom disruption. He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail. “I got involved with social justice issues after my son got involved with the juvenile justice system when he was 10 years old. He was special-needs,” Jackson said.
Following her son’s arrest, Jackson became a parent-advocate and community leader, organizing other parents to fight for juvenile detention reform. Her work has been recognized both locally and nationally.
Although she has been waiting almost a year for the runoff election, Jackson said the time helped her better prepare for a role on the City Council.
“It’s been a blessing in disguise. I think I’m actually more ready than I was at first. I thought I was ready, but now I’m like ready. I have a plan; we have a team together. I’ve developed relationships. We know what is needed in District B when a new representative takes over.”
“District B is huge,” Jackson said. “A lot of these neighborhoods don’t know what’s going on in other neighborhoods…. We’re dealing with the same issues. We need to collaborate and fight them together.”
According to Jackson, the coronavirus pandemic has hit District B “extra hard.”
“COVID has exacerbated the issues that are already impacting our community, like healthcare and jobs,” she said. “You have people already in poverty, and then COVID hits. They’re out of work. They didn’t have any reserve savings.
“We look at the schools. You have kids with no computers, but they have to do classes online. We have families that don’t have Internet because they don’t make enough money to have Internet.”
COVID or not, ‘we need to tackle poverty,” Jackson said. “We have to try to see how we can put people to work. We need to create jobs.”
For this reason, economic development is a priority for Jackson.
“In my district, you have over 40 percent of the people making less than $25,000 a year. We need to identify how we are putting people to work within the district. If we are using tax abatements, we need to add a requirement that the company has to hire within the district.”
Jackson highlighted resources like Houston.works, a website that matches job seekers to employers in the Greater Houston Area, and the Complete Communities Initiative, a program designed to ensure all Houstonians have equal access to quality services and amenities.
“We need to expand Houston.works,” she said. “We need to partner with organizations that have job training. And I want to compliment the mayor on the Complete Communities Program. I’d like to participate with him on that project.”
Voters eligible to cast their ballots in the District B runoff election can learn more about early voting and polling locations at harrisvotes.com.