The two main contenders in the Houston mayoral race hope that Hispanics, who make up 44 percent of the Texas city's population, will go to the polls and will be decisive in the Nov. 5 balloting.

Two-term incumbent Annise Parker's main opponent is Ben Hall, an African-American attorney.

Parker obtained more than 40 percent of the vote in mainly Hispanic neighborhoods in 2011 and believes that for this election her electoral support can only increase.

"Principally because in those elections I had a Hispanic candidate as my main rival, and now I'm getting support from the vast majority of Latino civic and business groups in the city," she tells Efe.

"The Hispanic community is very important, we have several Latinos elected to key positions on the municipal council and within the municipality. Without the clear support of Hispanics, we couldn't be first in the voter surveys," the mayor, who was first elected in 2009, said.

In 2011, Parker won 50.8 percent of the vote, enough to block any need for a run-off against her closest rival, firefighter Fernando Herrera.

But in this municipal contest, Ben Hall has another take. The fact that none of the candidates is of Hispanic origin favors him, he says, because "Latinos will feel represented" since he too belongs to a minority.

"We African-Americans and Latinos have a lot in common. We need more Latinos in higher-ranking positions in the city and for the neighborhoods where they live to get improvements to their infrastructure," Hall told Efe.

One of the problems facing the candidates is low turnout. In 2011, only 13 percent of registered voters went to the polls. EFE