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Jim McConn Papers

Identifier: MSS 0195

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of papers from Jim McConn’s time as a city council member and as mayor. The collection also includes files from many of his executive assistants while in office. Additionally, photographs document mayoral activities and events, and audio recordings capture many mayoral news conferences.


  • 1972-1981

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Jim McConn Papers must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

James Joseph McConn, or Jim, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1927. At a young age, he and his family moved to Houston. He attended St. Thomas High School and graduated from the University of Notre Dame. After graduation he went into the building supply business for 12 years. In 1960 he began building homes in the Houston area. His company, McConn Construction built homes in the Briargrove Park, Lakeside Forest, Sugar Creek, Quail Creek, and the Memorial areas.

McConn came into city politics by way of then-mayor Louis Welch. Welch recommended that he be appointed to fill the vacant City Council District C seat left by Lee McLemore. McLemore resigned after winning the 1971 election to run for the Texas Senate. In a special session at the end of 1971, McConn was approved by city council to fill out the remaining 10 days of McLemore’s term. When the City Council returned to session in early 1972 the council voted McConn to fill McLemore’s two-year term he had won prior to resigning.

McConn was elected for his second term in 1973 though he did not seek reelection in 1975. He announced his run for mayor on May 26, 1977. McConn came in second place behind Frank Brisco. Neither of them received over 50% of the votes which required a runoff election. McConn succeeded in winning the race and was inaugurated on January 3, 1978. He ran for reelection in 1979 ultimately winning a runoff with councilmember Louis Macey. He lost his third election to then City Controller Kathy Whitmire in 1981.

McConn’s mayoral tenure is remembered as a time of growth and change in the city. Under his tenure, Houston’s population exceeded 1.5 million the city saw the transition of the city council from 8-member district representation to 9-member district and 5-member at large representation. The city restructured the tax appraisal process to revalue property more equally and more consistently. Terminal C at the Intercontinental Airport was built and The Metropolitan Transit Authority was established. Tranquillity Park, once the city’s downtown premier greenspace was completed. McConn is also credited with infrastructure improvements and the creation of a modern sewage treatment facility.

As with most tenures, McConn’s was not without controversy. One of his first acts as Mayor was to fire the City’s women’s advocate, Nikki Hightower. Though in the early stages of police reform, the Moody Park Riots, happened during McConn’s first year in office. As significant are the controversies with city purchasing agent Jack Key’s alleged money extortion, and the city council awarding of Cable T.V. franchises.

After he left the mayor’s office, he became vice president of the Houston Sports Association from 1981-1988. He would then serve as director of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau from 1989 until his death from cancer in 1997.


56.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Series 1: City Councilman Papers

Series 2: Mayor’s Office Papers

Series 2.1: Mayoral Papers

Series 2.2: Communications Office

Series 2.2.1 Papers

Series 2.2.2: Photographs

Series 2.2.3: Audio Recordings

Series 2.3: Executive Assistants

Series 2.3.1: John E. Castillo

Series 2.3.2: Rick Gerlach

Series 2.3.3: Roger Line

Series 2.3.4: Florence Neumeyer

Series 2.3.5: Marsha Wayne

Series 2.3.6: Connie Williams

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Jim McConn and the Mayor's Office, 1981-1983.

Related Materials

HMRC holds a wide variety of City Officials material. Please contact the reference desk to inquire.

Processing Information

Processed by Abra Schnur, Summer 2019

In Progress
Abra Schnur
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houston History Research Center Repository


African American History Research Center
Houston Public Library
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
Houston History Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002