Category Archives: City of Houston

Another Great Candidate Brunch in Kingwood

I’m the Emcee while Kevin McManis, Prez of KAD awaits my turn-over of the mic.

For another year, I had the honor of emceeing the Kingwood Area Democrats Spring Brunch and Candidate Meet-n-Greet. It’s probably the only time you’ll catch this lowly blogger at a country club, but I must say, the staff at Kingwood Country Club did a great job–great bacon!

Dems in the northern reaches of the county had the opportunity to shake hands with and listen to candidates for everything from Houston Mayor to Humble ISD trustee, and even a couple of 2016 candidates.

Candidates in attendance included:  Mayor – Sylvester Turner and Marty McVey; Council At Large 1 – Lane Lewis and Chris Oliver; Council At-Large 4 – Laurie Robinson, Larry Blackmon, and Amanda Edwards; Council At-Large 5 – Durrel Douglas and Philippe Nassif. For Humble ISD Pos. 7 – Nancy Morrison and Robert Scarfo; and Pos. 6 – Dr. Johnny O’Connor. For 2016, Judge Mike Engelhart who is seeking re-election; Steven Kirkland who will run for the 334th; and Joe Stephens, a Galena Park trustee running for JP Pct. 3.

Obviously, not all candidates showed, but as I told the crowd about the importance of Kingwood area Democratic votes to candidates’ bottom line at the end of election night, I also stated that decisions are made by those who show up. Like any group, voters enjoy retail politics and want to get to know their candidates. That said, the club does invite all candidates to visit KAD at their regular meetings since we’ve got seven months to go.

Some Highlights:

State Rep. Turner spoke a little bit about his work in the Texas Legislature, while also highlighting his years of leadership in various committees. Beyond his political work, he has also built businesses, such as a law practice and a title company. He gives credit to his hard-working employees for allowing him the time to serve in Austin. Marty McVey also highlighted his business experiences and how he would be able to bring that to the horseshoe to address issues like transportation and infrastructure.

Lane Lewis put on his Democratic Chairman hat to give a short update on the Party’s happenings. Needless to say, the Party is busy! Wearing his candidate hat, though, he concentrated some of his remarks on drainage as the evening before the rains caused his elderly parents’ home to flood.=Lewis stated that Houston needs someone who will advocate for the people on Council. He also hit on other issues regarding transportation and infrastructure. In fact, those seemed to be the issues of the day. Chris Oliver stated he wanted to bring his policy-making and budget-making experience on the HCC Board of Trustees to Council. He stated his experience in this regard would easily transfer to the tough decisions that need to be made on Council.

Larry Blackmon highlighted his experience as a teacher and in life. That he wanted to bring the peoples’ voice to Council. One issue he brought up was the need for Council to award contracts to the best bids, rather than the lowest bid as a means of ensuring a longer-lasting infrastructure. Laurie Robinson launched an impressive speech in which she spoke about her experiences about being called to action after Katrina. She led the way in finding housing for 16,000 folks who were at the Dome, and that when Ike hit, she was among those ensuring water and ice stations were available throughout the city. She also touched on her DC experience with helping write the Medicare prescription plan law. Finally, touching on her project management experience, Robinson feels she can utilize that experience to solve the city’s challenges. Amanda Edwards touched on her experiences in law school, New Orleans, and her return to Houston to a life of public service. A public finance lawyer, she stated she already helps to build cities and infrastructure and that that experience is needed on Council.

Philippe Nassif touched on his experience working in the nonprofit world, at the White House, and in the community. After stating that City Council needed a community organizer, his opponent Durrel Douglas agreed, and then provided his own experience with various community groups, such as TOP. While Nassif touched on his diverse background, Douglas offered his idea of a municipal ID for the undocumented to ensure people can come out of the shadows–at least locally. Both are running energetic campaigns with the hopes of unseating a over-funded right-wing incumbent Jack Christie.

I wish I could write more on all the candidates’ statements, but I was busy emceeing and not live-blogging or live-tweeting–or even taking notes. Still, I can’t say these candidates made my November decision any easier. I urge all to start paying attention now and not a few weeks before the election. So, stay connected to DC for the latest.

Check out the photos of the event here.

Thanks to the Kingwood Area Democrats for inviting me back. KAD will always be my second family and the Dem club which started up my local political involvement. Best of luck in 2015-2016.

Kingwood Area Democrats

 

Latino Turnout: Are Latino Candidates The Answer?

You may recall I wrote about attending a League of Women Voters low voter turnout forum a few weeks ago. Local professor Richard Murray stated that 2016 could be a good year for Latino turnout if either political party runs a Latin@ VP candidate.

He further cited that 2002’s campaign by Tony Sanchez actually increased Latino turnout throughout the state. I recall Sanchez’s ads and they hit at the hearts of Mexican Americans–I certainly enjoyed them. But when Rick Perry ran ads tying Sanchez to drug dealers and money laundering, even White Democrats believed Perry and voted for him in large numbers.

We’re at 2015 and we’ve had a first test of the assertion that a Latino on the ballot helps drive Latino turnout. Post-election research showing how Chicagoans voted is quite interesting. Hispanic voters gave almost 70% of their vote to Chuy Garcia, while 66% of white voters and 58% of black voters went to Emanuel. As far as the other demographics were concerned, it’s not like Garcia was far from their issues, but they stuck with Emanuel for some reason. Perhaps Latinos were looking for change, but certainly a progressive Latino candidate did help increase Latino turnout in Chicago, according to Latino Victory Project, although numbers were still low.

Will Houston get to test this assertion next? I think it is safe to predict that a left to center Latino candidate for Houston Mayor could increase Latino turnout, but will the end-result be the same as Chicago? Would there even be a run-off? I guess it all depends on if Houstonians as a whole embrace a Latino candidate. Chicago showed a tendency, but obviously not a full embrace.

Obviously, Murray’s assertion is that there be a Latino VP candidate in 2016 to give either party a major assist, but I’m talking about a major Latino candidacy at the top of the ballot. After yesterday’s results, I tend to think results elsewhere would be the same. Latino candidates not only have to campaign to a diverse electorate, but against big money interests, and they also have to combat right-wing, anti-Latino sentiment coming out of state legislatures.

Still, I think it needs to be continually tested, rather than have prospective Latino candidates remain in their comfort zones. Certainly, it would ensure a response to those who would make Latinos a political scapegoat.

AL5s Douglas First Council Candidate to Stand Against SB185

durrelWe all know that SB185 has been getting its debate in Austin with some delays. The question of the matter is whether we want state and local law enforcement agencies to practice legalized racial profiling, which is basically what SB185 does. While some law enforcement leaders have stepped up against the bill, including Sheriff Adrian Garcia, I can’t say there have been many municipal elected officials or candidates for municipal office stepping up. So, to find that Durrel Douglas, candidate for AL5 has made his voice heard by asking Houston City Council to get involved in the issue was refreshing.

While Public Safety accounts for $1.3 Billion of our city’s FY-2015 $4.7 Billion budget, those resources should be used for police training, recruitment and community policing initiatives that build bridges, not break them down.

While some in the state legislature want to increase the burden and responsibility of over-exerted police departments, over the last five years, HPD has solved just 8 percent of burglaries, and the clearance rate has gotten worse, dropping lower every year since 2010 according to ABC-13 (KTRK).  Although SB 185 is to be voted on under the pink dome of our state capitol, our Houston Mayor and City Council members should use their influence to discourage passage of this horrible legislation.

Austin City Councilman Greg Casar, a community organizer, is heading in the right direction as he uses the megaphone entrusted to him by his constituents.

Obviously, this legislation would open the door for racial profiling since people like me wouldn’t be asked to show my papers.  Which race of people would be most likely to be “asked for their papers?”  Racial profiling of any kind is wrong.

Elected officials, conservatives, in particular, enjoy using border and immigration issues for their political purposes. I recall then-District E Councilman Mike Sullivan and then-CM Anne Clutterbuck went on an anti-immigrant tirade in support of 287(g) six years ago. With SB185 being debated, it seems both sides of the issue have been quiet at the horseshoe, but this law would greatly affect City coffers, police services, and community trust of he police. Where’s the outrage against the Lege by our local leaders?

Thanks to Mr. Douglas for bringing it up while it is still being debated.

 

At-Large 5: Philippe Nassif and Durrel Douglas

As Kuff mentioned last week, there’ve been some changes in the race for At-Large 5, with one prospect bowing out and two candidates coming in to challenge the incumbent, Jack Christie. I wrote a short piece about Durrel Douglas, whom I’ve known for a few years; however, it was a short time after that I found out that Philippe Nassif, who had been running for At-Large 1, had made the jump into At-Large 5.

nassifI met Nassif within the last year and there’s no doubt he has a lot of energy and great ideas on which to run for AL5. I had the pleasure of meeting with him recently and found out a lot about him, including his Lebanese and Mexican background.  His experience working with Mayor Annise Parker, the Obama Campaign, and the White House, as well as with a global nonprofit, gives him a well-rounded background on which to base his campaign.

Durrel Douglas

Here’s what I wrote about Durrel last week.

durrelI’m glad to see Durrel Douglas announce for At-Large 5 against Jack Christie. He’s been a good organizer and activist and will have a lot to say during the campaign.  Douglas, an immigration reform supporter, has already proposed enacting a municipal ID as a means of making Houston more welcoming and safer. I’m looking forward to Durrel elevating the political conversation in this town. It is way overdue.

There’s no doubt that both Nassif and Douglas will provide some energy to the race that the incumbent hasn’t ever had. While the incumbent has an endless supply of cash, I’m hoping voters seek new leadership from the unboring, energetic, and responsive. And in this race, voters have a couple of choices.

Stay tuned.

Chavez Day-Houston [Photos]

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Parade Grand Marshal Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

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State Rep. Sylvester Turner visiting Chavez Day prior to his campaign kick-off for Mayor.

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¡Que Viva!

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Leader and Activist Maria Jimenez honored for her years in La Causa.

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CM Robert Gallegos mentioned that the Cesar Chavez Parade was among the first events he attended when he launched his campaign for District I.

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Part of the crowd.

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Constable Heliodoro Martinez of Pct. 6 working the crowd.

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The Congresswoman had kind words for Tejano Association for Historical Preservation and Cesar Chavez Street activist Benny Martinez.

It was a well-attended event that must continue to grow. It was great to see Chavez High School students enriched by this celebration, as well as Pct. 6 Constable Martinez challenging the students to get involved as the struggle for civil rights is far from over.

Some kudos must also go to Sylvester Turner for showing up, which is more than I can say about the other announced candidates. As CM Robert Gallegos stated, a couple of years ago, this was the first event he attended and look at him now. One cannot expect votes if they don’t show up. And here’s a secret:  People who show up to these events celebrating activists actually vote–or are willing to listen.

Congrats to the TAHP and all involved for a great event.

 

District H: Jason Cisneroz

Earlier in the new year, I looked at a couple of places in District H only to get out-bid–on rentals! Obviously, folks think is the place to live. Yes, District H is still an up and coming council district and with CM Ed Gonzalez being term-limited, folks in the district get to choose a new council member to represent them. Jason Cisneroz is in the running and recently launched his campaign and social media presence.

Jason is a member of our Houston Police Department where he serves as a community service officer, working directly with citizens to improve neighborhoods and public safety. He has served our nation’s military overseas. And, he has deep roots in District H while offering institutional experience at City Hall having worked for then-Council Member Adrian Garcia and soon-to-be outgoing CM Ed Gonzalez. He has lived a life of public service and he still has much more to accomplish.

Keep an eye on Jason Cisneroz as he states his case to serve as District H’s next representative on the horseshoe.

Website:  http://www.jasoncisneroz.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JasonCisnerozCampaign

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jasoncisneroz

 

Catching Up on Local Political Stuff

Cops Endorse

I haven’t been a fan of HPOU ever since they supported racial profiling of Latinos for immigration purposes. You see, some of us good liberals never forget. I always hope that some of my favorite candidates vie for the nod then throw it back in their faces. Of course, I’m always disappointed. Earlier this week, some activists protested at HPOU requesting that they not back the current racial profiling law that is being debated in Austin (SB185). The protesters pretty much got the same message as before from the cops.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia continues to be the only prospect for 2015 to take a stand against SB185, which would directly affect HPD and the City of Houston.

Durrel Douglas for AL5

I’m glad to see Durrel Douglas announce for At-Large 5 against Jack Christie. He’s been a good organizer and activist and will have a lot to say during the campaign.  Douglas, an immigration reform supporter, has already proposed enacting a municipal ID as a means of making Houston more welcoming and safer. I’m looking forward to Durrel elevating the political conversation in this town. It is way overdue.

Make sure you attend Durrel Douglas’ kick-off.

Who Will Run on Fighting Corruption?

Because I got sick of it 10 years ago when airport concessions were being debated.

 

 

 

Is He or Isn’t He? The Saga Continues…

adrianWell, there’s nothing official yet, but Schleifer at the Chron cites “sources” as saying that Sheriff Adrian Garcia will announce for Houston Mayor in another month.

Garcia has sent signals over the past six months that he would join the crowded race to replace Mayor Annise Parker, emptying his mostly non-transferable political bank account, commissioning a poll and this past weekend attending a labor-organized policy forum intended for potential candidates for municipal office.

I’m sort of with Kuff on this in that it really is sounding like a broken record; not Garcia’s record player, but everyone elses. But, what if it’s really true?

I’m sure the Democratic freak-outs will continue over the Sheriff’s imminent resignation, leaving the Republican county commissioner’s court to appoint a right-winger to the post. I’m sure none of us wants a right-winger as Sheriff who will roll back any advances Garcia has pushed forward. And for those who have a beef with the Sheriff over his deportation record given his support of 287g and Secure Communities, I’m pretty sure we’ll be debating immigrant tent jails and pink striped jail uniforms soon with a Republican in office. Still, nothing is forever, and if Garcia wants to move on to another position, that’s his right. Who knows? He may become your favorite candidate for Mayor if and once he rolls out his plan for Houston.

I will add that recently, Sheriff Garcia came out against SB185–the legalized racial profiling bill that was debated on Monday. Of all the unofficial and official candidates, Garcia is the only one who has offered a take on a bill that would affect the City of Houston quite negatively.

That said, until I get a embargoed press release from his team, he’s still Houston Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

PDiddie has some questions for the Sheriff.

 

 

 

And Now We Have Six

Houstonians cannot say that they don’t have candidates to choose from come November–whether they like them or not. CM Stephen Costello, as expected, has tossed his hat in the ring for Houston Mayor. Some expect a few to half-a-dozen more before the deadline.

And, as expected, Costello is running against the recent City-Firefighters Pension deal, which is probably a good position on which to begin, given that another candidate, Sylvester Turner, helped broker the agreement. That’s if you believe this is THE issue. (Kuff has more on the pension deal back and forth.)

As Costello seems to see it, it’s a battle for “local control,” which is something the Republicans at the Texas Lege have turned away from recently. While Costello wants local control for Houstonians to decide on the pension, Republicans have been dead-set on seizing local control from cities who have passed nondiscrimination ordinances.

Local control is local control, so, how Costello navigates between the pension and the NDO (which will be an issue in 2015 one way or another) will be interesting. Whatever the debate on pensions, though, there probably won’t be much of a battle for the firefighters union endorsement this time around.

Of course, there are others in the running, including Chris Bell, Ben Hall, Marty McVey, and Bill King. And from these folks, we’ve seen everything from Pre-K (Bell) to international investment (McVey), to potholes on Kirkwood and elsewhere (King). So, if you’re looking for an issue, someone is bound to offer it up for discussion at a candidate forum.

Who’s next?

 

 

 

Playing Catch-Up on Houston Election Stuff

runningPDiddie posted on a meeting last week in which it was rumored that Sheriff Adrian Garcia was going to make some sort of announcement. I had been too busy with family stuff to give it any attention, but, here goes.

Perry credited a “Latino activist” as spreading the rumor, but, when I saw who it was, I realized that it was a self-proclaimed mayoral campaign staffer of the republatino who’s rumored to become a perennial candidate if he runs a third time.

Anyway, chalk it up to barrio chisme which doesn’t really help get Latinos excited about the 2015 election.

What is news is that Sheriff Adrian Garcia has taken on the issue of Pre-K as a means of stopping the school-to-prison pipeline. It’s good to see someone in law enforcement looking toward a future that lessens the number of warehoused folks.

“Many of the inmates in our Texas jails and prisons encountered setbacks with behavior and academics in their earliest years. A high-quality pre-kindergarten education is a crime prevention tool that will help children succeed while saving lives and taxpayer dollars in the future.”

Anyway, from the looks of the internets, there’s some movement among other candidates–whether it’s attending events, photo ops, or actually announcing. I’m not feeling the warm and fuzzies with the current line-up for Mayor, though.

That said, I hadn’t been feeling it for City Controller either, at least, not until the revelation that Chris Brown, who serves as the chief #2 in that office, was running for it. I mean, the institutional experience is a good thing, but I’m still waiting for the rest of the line-up. With four candidates, thus far, it may have the makings of a big, media-heavy race. But if any more join the fray, we’re looking at a race to make a run-off, for sure.

There was also movement in District H, but perhaps also a switcheroo, which PDiddie references. Since I don’t live in the district, I haven’t gotten any official announcement from any of the announced candidates, but I have spoken to at least one prospective candidate in local police officer Jason Cisneroz, whom I think will be the candidate to watch once he tosses his hat in the ring.

One possible race that I’ll start to watch is District F. I’m pretty sure that my own District J CM Mike Laster will get re-elected, therefore, he will not need my vote. In other words, I’m making a move to District F, and I’ve heard some good things about Richard Nguyen.

Well, let’s keep our ears open for the latest chisme.