HOUSTON -- Houston Mayor Annise Parker has been elected to a third and final term as the leader of the nation s fourth largest city.

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In a crowded field, Parker got more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday, enough to avoid a runoff in December.

She had faced eight challengers, with the strongest being former Houston city attorney Ben Hall.

Parker was first elected in 2009. She won her second term in 2011. Term limits prevent Parker from running for a fourth term.

During Parker s administration, Houston weathered the recent recession better than most major U.S. cities and has been named in surveys as one of the best cities to live in.

With Parker s re-election, Houston continues to be the largest city in the United States led by an openly gay person.

Parker gave her victory speech Tuesday night at the George R. Brown Convention Center, where she celebrated her first victory as Houston s mayor.

To the voters of Houston, thank you for renewing your trust in me, in the city, in our ability to come together to work together to continue to make Houston the best city it can possibly be. It is already a great, great international city, but the best can always be better, she said.

Before Parker's victory speech, Hall thanked his supported as he conceded the election at the House of Dereon.

Just before I took the stage, I called present incumbent Mayor Parker and I told her that the numbers may not speak well tonight, but this does not end this journey. We shall continue to fight for all of the dreams and aspirations of this great community. You have not heard the last of Ben Hall, he said.

Prior to the polls closing Tuesday evening, Parker and Hall were both busy trying to secure last-minute votes.

Hall started his day at 5 a.m., working some polls, shaking some hands and then voting at a Holiday Inn located on the Katy Freeway near his Memorial-area home.

His wife of more than 30 years and his 22-year-old son went to vote with him.

Hall pumped a lot of his own money into his run for mayor, and his TV ads were well produced.

Meanwhile, Parker started the day at the Breakfast Klub, a few blocks from her home, shaking the hands of voters.

She said she was feeling confident in winning re-election.

I have expected to be the winner in this campaign all along. It was a question of whether it was today or in a runoff. And I think it s going to be today, she said.


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