New Houston billboards honoring congressman part of city's voting initiative

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Thursday, August 13, 2020
Houston mayor presents voting initiative honoring congressman
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Congressman George Thomas "Mickey" Leland died in 1989 during a mission trip and this is how the city of Houston is honoring him while encouraging people to get to the polls.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The fight to decrease the spread of COVID-19 continues, but with the 2020 presidential election nearing, leaders are also reminding people to vote and this is how.

Houston city leaders announced a voting initiative in hopes to help increase participation in Harris County in the midst of the pandemic.

The initiative, which will include a series of billboards across the county, was announced in memory of the late Congressman George Thomas "Mickey" Leland.

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"We may feel helpless at times because we can't control the pandemic or other issues like jobs and housing, but as proud Houstonians we do have the power to vote," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

Billboards addressing the voting initiative have already been recently installed in Hermann Park, along with a statue commemorating Leland, who died in 1989 while leading a relief mission to an isolated refugee camp.

The announcement of the initiative comes as we are just months away from the 2020 presidential election.

"We are 83 days from the Nov. 3 election, and it is important that every voter participates in the process," Turner said. "As Houstonians and Americans, each one of us has a civic duty to cast a ballot for person/persons of our choice. And each one of us has a stake in what happens in our city, and in our country and county and quite frankly all over."

Houston city leaders are encouraging people to vote, especially after nearly 400,000 vote-in-mail applications were sent into Harris County back in June ahead of the July 14 elections in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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During Wednesday's unveiling of the initiative, Turner also address the city's response to the coronavirus. He announced that as of Wednesday, the city's health department reported 431 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the city's total to 5,940.

"We recognized that our numbers are starting to trend in the right direction, there are still way too many people that are dying because of this virus," Turner said.

Turner added that the health department is also boosting its outreach efforts in the Hispanic community and other neighborhoods with a high positivity rate.