Justin Ray, who has served as the mayor of Jersey Village since 2015, announced his candidacy Feb. 18 for Texas House District 135. Ray said he will run as a Republican for the seat, which was won by Democrat Jon Rosenthal in November.

All members of the Texas House of Representatives serve two-year terms. The next election for District 135 is set to take place in November 2020.

“I want to take my message of fiscal responsibility, limited regulation and taxation, and ensuring the public safety of our community to the voters, and I am confident they will respond in a positive manner,” Ray said in the Feb. 18 announcement.

Prior to becoming mayor of Jersey Village—a city in northwest Houston with a population of roughly 7,900 people—Ray served on the Jersey Village City Council and on the city's planning and zoning commission. Ray ran unopposed in his 2015 bid for mayor after former Mayor Rod Erskine opted not to run for re-election. Ray ran unopposed again to keep his seat in 2017.

In his time as mayor, Ray oversaw efforts to produce a long-term flood-recovery study, update the city's comprehensive plan and advance several capital improvement projects, including ongoing efforts to construct a new convention center at the Jersey Meadow Golf Course.

On a campaign website, Ray said his priorities include keeping taxes and regulations low, supporting border security at the southern border and supporting public education.

"My wife, Allison, and I have deep roots in this community and deep ties to public schools and public education," Ray said. "Allison is a public school teacher, her father is a public school teacher, as are many others in our family. Fixing our school system here in Texas is of the utmost importance, and I feel like I am well-positioned to lead in this effort.”

Ray, who works in business development, received an undergraduate degree from the University of Houston and a J.D. from the South Texas College of Law.

Rosenthal defeated Republican Gary Elkins to represent District 135 in November with 50.8 percent of the vote. He won on a platform that called for criminal justice reform, increasing access to health care and school finance reform. He said he specifically wanted to address loopholes that allow public education funding to be diverted to other places. He has authored 20 bills since being elected.

District 135 represents parts of unincorporated northwest Harris County, including the city of Jersey Village and the Copperfield area.

The Jersey Village mayor seat is up for election this May. With Ray planning to run for Texas House, Andrew Mitcham—currently serving on Place 1 of the Jersey Village City Council—will run unopposed for mayor.