Category Archives: Elections

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.

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.

Low Voter Turnout: A Discussion

So, I attended the League of Women Voters-Houston’s discussion on low voter turnout. It was an interesting discussion featuring Mark Jones from Rice U., Dick Murray from UH, Hector de Leon from the county, and Mustafa Tameez, a local political wiz. The problem is when you have a nonprofit group trying to discuss voter turnout, the conversation tends to become partisan, or at the very least about issues.

From the get-go, Jones gave us a lesson: People vote based on age, education, and income level. The older, more educated, and better paid one is, the likelier they are to show up at the polls. But if we are to see an increase in voter turnout, it will take an increase in Hispanic turnout.

As it stands, 55% of Hispanics are registered to vote, but in 2014, 23% of Hispanics voted, while 44% and 39% of whites and blacks, respectively, voted. Jones stated that millennials didn’t vote, and the younger generation didn’t vote either. Jones didn’t feel that there could be an increase in education or income levels any time soon, so he suggested more competitive races. But in Texas, that’s been impossible, even at the local level, such as the DAs race of 2014. So, he suggested what has been working in a large number of states: No excuse absentee voting. Pointing to a large percentage of people who receive mail-in ballots returning them to vote here in Harris County, Jones believes that it could work if offered to all voters.

Back to low turnout, Jones stated that it is consequential in Republican primaries. Since the state is Republican, all decisions of who gets elected statewide are being made in the Republican primary. He also mentioned that low turnout is consequential in local bond elections where few voters decide on millions and billions of bond dollars. He suggests perhaps requiring a threshold of voter participation to legitimize the results.

Professor Murray stated there is a pattern of lower and lower turnout. He also stated that he expects turnout to drop for the 2015 city elections, but he has not seen that kind of decrease in Presidential general elections.

He pointed to the obvious regarding presidential campaigns that they maximize resources in important (battleground) states. He also stated that we are seeing less state competition and less county competition. Much of this is based on where voters reside, and that even at the partisan level, voters seem to want to reside in areas in which they find voters that are politically similar to themselves.

Another problem Murray sees is that we have too many elections which seem to suck the oxygen out of the political process. Another is the lack of information for voters to make voting decisions about candidates.

Murray suggested that the state needs to become competitive at the presidential level. That while the state is solidly GOP, Gallup recently found that there is only a 3% difference in how Texans identify themselves. Further, he pointed to the eventual candidacy of Hillary Clinton as a motivational candidacy that will increase turnout in various groups, especially Hispanics. In 2008, Clinton won Hispanics handily in the Dem primary. Add a Hispanic Vice-Presidential candidate (Castro) and you might have the makings of a competitive Texas in November 2016, according to Murray. He also added that if the GOP Anglo candidate adds a Hispanic to their ticket, it would become ever more interesting.

de Leon put numbers to the commentary from the academics in the room. He found it important to find out who is not voting and who is voting and start from there. A few of the stats found something interesting: The less one made, the more likely one was to vote straight party. He also mentioned that low Latino turnout was concentrated in areas which were represented by a Latino/a state representative. Not sure if he was blaming officeholders, but he did state that since minority voters usually vote in Democratic precincts, that there is no way there could be voter suppression by the other side.

Mustafa Tameez, though, did some truth-telling:  Rich, old white people vote, and minorities do not. He went further by talking about one actual reason that this blogger has been mentioning:  People no longer believe in the political system. Further, he stated another fact:  Most in the room were political junkies and that we needed to see beyond our lives and toward the lives of those not voting–actually connect with the non-voters.

Many in the room have also worked campaigns and we know what campaigns are about:  Finding likely voters and targeting them multiple times. Seldom do political professionals think about the non-voting public, and it was refreshing to see a pro admit that in this kind of discussion. Frankly, I got sick of the campaign game because no one wanted to be bold and work the low propensity voters, but that’s for another post. I won’t hold my breath that this will change, though, at least as campaigns go.

Basically, Tameez stated that all of us can do more to help people feel like they are part of the system. I’ll go further and state that campaigns need to do more, too.

So, it was an interesting discussion. The Q&A, though, turned to the partisan, which isn’t hard to do when we’re talking about voting, politics, and especially issues. Professor Murray mentioned what we’ve found in polling:  For Latinos, the top issues are usually Education, Jobs, Health Care, and then immigration. I’ll add, though, that immigration becomes a top issue when Republicans begin to attack immigrants and Latinos, or a Democrat makes promises or executive actions regarding the issue. And that’s how a discussion about Latino turnout becomes a partisan one because even the academics in the room agree that Latinos are mostly Democratic.  I will add that Latino voters react to both sides based on how they act–on the campaign trail and while in office–too.

There wasn’t any discussion of the political back-and-forth of campaigns and how prospective voters react to the media wars. Perhaps that is where we will find something else to discuss:  Messaging!!!

I’ll agree with Tameez, though, that many feel that the political system is the problem. I go back to my what one of my mentors once told a group of Latino activists:  If you have a problem with the system it’s because it’s not your system. Meaning, those who developed the political system didn’t have certain people in mind.

Those words have stayed with me for over 20 years. And in those 20 years, it’s been difficult to find a solution that falls somewhere between an armed revolt that changes everything and the wholesale electoral removal of all incumbents who have made themselves comfortable in this political system that thrives on low voter turnout.

More to come, I’m sure. Thanks to the League of Women Voters-Houston for getting the ball rolling. It was great seeing a packed room for this very important discussion.

 

Chuy Garcia Makes The Run-Off in Chicago

Chuy Garcia, the Cook County Commissioner who forced Rahm Emanuel into an April 7 run-off, is a pretty good candidate. A Durango, Mexico native, he is the son of a bracero whose family ended up in Chicago in 1965. Garcia served his community while going to college–an honest to goodness community organizer. After serving on City Council, he was the first Mexican American elected to the Illinois Senate and was re-elected, only to be defeated by a Richard Daley-supported opponent. After his defeat, he returned to organizing in his community. In 2010, he was elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners and was re-elected in 2014.

On Tuesday, after being outspent by the corporate-supported Emanuel 12-to-1, his grassroots campaign earned him 34% of the vote to Emanuel’s 45%. It was a complete embarrassment for Emanuel who boasted some pretty big political bosses on his resume. Emanuel even got an end-of-campaign endorsement from President Obama.

“Today, we the people have spoken. Not the people with the money and the power and the connections. Not the giant corporations. The big-money special interests. The hedge funds and Hollywood celebrities who poured tens of millions of dollars into the mayor’s campaign. They all had their say. They’ve had their say for too long. But today, the rest of us had something to say.”

One must wonder if President Obama and/or Bill and Hillary will get involved deeper in the run-off campaign. Certainly, it wouldn’t look good for Hillary Clinton to side with Emanuel over Garcia. Frankly, I think it best for that little group to stay out, or be bold and side with the right side of history.

One thing is or sure, Emanuel will once again sell out to the highest corporate bidders, so Chuy Garcia needs your help. Donate to his campaign today.

Let’s face it, this blogger has never been a fan of Chicago’s current Mayor. Didn’t like him under Clinton, in Congress, and especially under Obama. Didn’t like it when Rahm Emanuel attempted his own brand  of “comprehensive immigration reform” with Colorado bigot Tom Tancredo. Beyond Obama, I think Emanuel was behind the Term 1 delays on CIR. And to know he’s also the most bought politician in the Chicago Mayor’s race just makes me ill. That Chicago can make history by electing its first Mexican-American Mayor would be monumental.

 

Or, Why Wendy, Leticia, and Dems Should Have Opposed the Surge

Lisa Falkenberg at the Chron tells us about the trouble the press is having at getting real figures from DPS and the Texas Government about the “success” of the Rick Perry’s (and now Greg Abbott’s) DPS/National Guard border surge. In my opinion, it’s always been a political sham with racist, anti-Latino undertones.

You will recall that it was a great photo op for Republicans, which left Democrats Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte with little (political) choice but to support the DPS part of the surge, while Davis also supported immediate deportation of children escaping violence and poverty. Obviously, this blog and many activists weren’t happy about it. And while the DNC goes over its autopsy of 2014, one would hope that political decisions such as Dems supporting Rick Perry’s idiotic ideas would be mentioned.

Republicans have decided to continue throwing money at their border sideshow, while negatively affecting National Guard troops who have real jobs and families to worry about, and DPS agents who have better things to do than to militarize the border.

Nothing is more embarrassing than backing a Rick Perry idea only to have it fall flat on its face, as expected by many Dems.

Put this in the Democratic Playbook chapter on What Not To Do.

 

 

Luis Lopez is the new Finance Chair for HCDP

luisRecently, Democrats received an e-mail from outgoing Democratic Finance Chair Bill Baldwin who stepped down to take on some campaign duties on a 2015 campaign. Today, Democrats received an e-mail from HCDP’s new Finance Chair, Luis Lopez.

I’m sure you’ve seen him mentioned here on the DC, since I had the honor of helping Luis out as he repped Dems in the race for Texas House District 132. Luis ran a great campaign in a very red year, did some respectable fundraising in a year when Dems were mostly funding the top of the ballot, and, although the result wasn’t in his favor, Luis recommitted to serving his political party and his community. I’m always boasting that Luis is a force of nature, and he will not disappoint in his new role with the Party.

Here’s his e-mail, if you didn’t receive it. Let’s support Luis’ efforts!

I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself to you.

My name is Luis Lopez and I was recently appointed as the new Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party’s Finance Committee.

I could not be more excited to take on the role and the task of helping increase the financial security of our county party.

Election after election we see that when we invest our time, our energy and our financial resources into the Harris County Democratic Party, we get real results. So, yes, I will be asking you to open your wallet and make a contribution in this email.

The backbone of our Party is our sustaining membership program.

What if I told you that it would take an additional 1,292 Harris County Democratic Party Sustaining Members just to match the MINIMUM donation of at least $5000.00 that 31 people have made to the Harris County Republican Party to become members of the Republican Party Cornerstone Club.

We have to do better.

I want to ask you to commit to becoming a sustaining member, renewing your sustaining membership, or even just making a donation of $20, $50, or $100 today.

The Finance Committee is working on ways to keep the Party financially secure and raise the funds necessary to continue running programs throughout the year – but we cannot do it without you.

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We have a lot of work to do, so let’s get started!
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