Tag Archives: Harris County

Catching Up With Dem Primary Endorsements

Well, we are now almost two weeks away from the beginning of Early Voting for the Democratic Primary, so, it’s time for the rest of you to start paying attention. Endorsements don’t necessarily win elections, but if you are a member of a certain organization that endorses, chances are you might want to support someone endorsed by said organization. My buddy Charles Kuffner at OffTheKuff.com is compiling a list of endorsements and information about candidates.

And the good folks at Democracy for Houston just released their expansive list of nods.

dfh1

 

dfh2

 

Stay tuned for more Democratic Primary news!

About these ads

The Run-Up to Filing Day

I know, we’re not even done with City of Houston/HCC races, but we can’t wait to talk about 2014. Kuff gives us a rundown of those who have filed, thus far, in Harris County. If you want the Secretary of State’s list to check out who’s running from both parties, well, here it is. The filing deadline is December 9.

Obviously, there a lot of judicial seats that seem lacking of candidates right now, but I know there are a whole bunch of Dems that are ready to file, including my friend Julia Maldonado for the 246th Family District Court.

Kuff mentions a couple of suburban Texas House seats, including HD-150, in which my good friend Amy Perez has announced her intention to file later this week. Amy is an award-winning educator, a wizard at public policy, and a forward-thinking individual, which is much more than we can say about Riddle.

Also, be on the lookout for an announcement for another House seat, HD-132, which is now an open seat out in Katy/Cypress. There will be a teabagger battle on the Republican side, so, the Democrat who I’m hoping will announce a run will be a breath of fresh air.

So, stay connected. By Monday evening or Tuesday morning, we’ll have the complete list of Dems on the Primary ballot.

Analyzing the Jail Bond Vote and 287(g) Is Still Here

Kuff has numbers on the jail bond vote.

I found it quite interesting that predominantly Latino districts, like H and I, voted against the jail bond–53% and 54%, respectively. Even the Latino vote went against it by 1,000 votes, if you go by those numbers.

I voted against the jail bond because I wanted to stick to my principles–I’m not in favor of Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s insistence on keeping the flawed Latino round-up program, 287(g). He uses this program to boast thousands of apprehensions, a large percentage of which were for low-level offenses, according to performance reports from ICE. Of course, this comes at a cost of about $50 million.

Yesterday, I got a few angry text messages asking me if I knew the Sheriff was asking the Commish court to reauthorize the agreement with ICE. My question to them:  Did you vote for the jail bond? Obviously, I wasn’t surprised since the Sheriff has been quite the defender of this flawed program. And it’s a waste of tax money.

Data being collected under a new state law shows Harris County spent nearly $50 million from October 2011 to September 2013 to house immigrants here illegally being held at the request of federal authorities – more inmates by far than any other county jail in the state.

During that time period, the county reported housing 30,306 immigrants with ICE detainers at a total cost of $49.64 million.

On Tuesday, the court accepted an annual federal reimbursement of just $1.8 million for the cost of housing incarcerated illegal aliens in the jail. The county must absorb the rest.

The Sheriff’s office says that ICE detainers have fallen since 2009 and that they are only going after “big fish”–serious criminal. Well, since that’s how the policy was written, it’s nice that almost 20 years later, they’re more focused, right?

I must say, though, that I like Horwitz’s perspective at Texpatriate.

 

Emmett Says No to Early to Rise Ballot Item

County Judge Ed Emmett decided to take the undemocratic approach and say “no” to the folks from Early to Rise, who did the democratic thing and collected over 80K signatures to place on the November ballot a one-cent tax increase which would pay for an early childhood education initiative.

Early to Rise released this statement:

Earlier today Harris County Judge Ed Emmett announced that he would not order an election to approve a one-cent property tax to support early childhood education.

            “Because we believe the law requires the county judge to place this issue before the voters, we will be filing a petition for a writ of mandamus in behalf of the registered voters who signed the petition requesting relief from the Court of Appeals,” said attorneys Richard Mithoff and Russell Post, who are representing Jonathan Day in behalf of registered voters who signed the petition seeking to put the issue on the ballot.

            “This is not about Judge Emmett.  He is a committed and conscientious public official,” Mithoff said. “This is not about the wisdom of the early childhood initiative: voters may disagree about whether revenue should be raised for this project.”

            “This is about the law,” he said.

            The Texas Legislature has authorized voters to petition for an election to authorize their government to levy and collect taxes for educational purposes.  The requirement to invoke this procedure represents a high hurdle–requiring the support of 10% of voters from the last gubernatorial election.  We have now validated more than twice that number.

          Under these circumstances, the Texas Legislature has mandated that a county judge has no discretion to second-guess the will of the people.  Rather, “the county judge . . . shall immediately order an election.”  This command is unambiguous and unequivocal; it must be enforced.

            Therefore, this initiative should be put before the voters to decide if early childhood education is something they want to invest in.

            The Early to Rise program, to be operated under the auspices of the elected Harris County Board of Education, will strive to improve daycare centers, early childhood education, teacher training and educational opportunities for the more than 400,000 pre-school children in our community.

            Funding will be derived via a one penny per $100 valuation of property, subject to voter approval in November 2013.  Given that the average Harris County home is valued at $192,000, this would be a $19.20 annual tax to homeowners; homeowners over 65 would pay roughly $3.20 a year because of their exemptions.

Frankly, I think that’s too nice a statement on the Judge after all that work Early to Rise put into the effort.

Kuff has more on the Early to Rise plan and its management and oversight, particularly the political accountability. According to the plan, the HCDE board would get to pick some board members to serve, pretty much like other entities in town, like the Sports Authority and Port Authority get appointees. I’m still thinking about whether this is good enough, but at least there is some say. Still, things are in limbo at the moment.

The plot has definitely thickened on this one. Let’s see what the Court of Appeals will say about this one.

Show Your Support for a HCDE Finalist

I didn’t make it a secret that I support my good friend Dr. Rey Guerra for appointment to the vacant position on the Board of Trustees of the Harris County Department of Education. But, to be fair, there are five other finalists.

This afternoon, the Board will be interviewing finalists for the post. Make your voice heard by contacting the members of the board. Who would you like to see in the position? And why?

Here is a list of board members to call and/or e-mail. The HCDE general number is (713) 694-6300.

Angie Chesnut
Board President
achesnut@hcde-texas.org

Debra Kerner
Board Vice-President
dkerner@hcde-texas.org

Erica S. Lee (Carter)
Position 6, Precinct 1
elee@hcde-texas.org

Marvin W. Morris
Position 1, Precinct 2
mmorris@hcde-texas.org

Kay Smith
Position 4, Precinct 3
kasmith@hcde-texas.org

Diane Trautman
Position 3, At Large
dtrautman@hcde-texas.org

We may not get a vote this time around, but we are lucky to have some members on the board who are responsive to their constituents.

 

SD-6 ~ Early Voting Begins on Wednesday, 2/20

That’s right, for those able to vote in Senate District 6, you have one more go-round at the voting booth (or by mail). The best time to get it done is during the Early Voting period, which begins on Wednesday, February 20. Here’s the schedule:

February 20 – February 22: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
February 23: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
February 24: 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
February 25 – February 26: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

There will be seven (7) early voting locations available around SD-6:

Location Address
1 Harris County Administration Building 1001 Preston, 1st Floor Houston TX 77002
2 Holy Name Catholic Church 1912 Marion Street Houston TX 77009
3 Ripley House 4410 Navigation Boulevard Houston TX 77011
4 H.C.C.S Southeast College, Learning Hub 6815 Rustic, Bldg D Houston TX 77087
5 Galena Park Library 1500 Keene Street Galena Park TX 77547
6 Hardy Senior Center 11901 West Hardy Road Houston TX 77076
7 Baytown Community Center 2407 Market Street Baytown TX 77520

SD6 Ballot Positions

SD-6 candidate Joaquin Martinez was at the County Clerk’s office this morning to draw for a ballot position and posted this pic on Facebook. Here’s the order in which the candidates will appear on the ballot.

We all know how folks say that the closer you are to the top the better for you–some say by a few percentage points if you are #1. But in a race like this, I’m pretty sure it will be all about candidate ID, doors knocked and/or bodies dragged to the polls. Good luck to all!

Meanwhile, Kuff has a post on an issue I hope to hear more about in the SD-6 special election–payday lending reform.

Rick Noriega Seems Out of SD6 Race

Kuff broke the news this weekend, highlighting a letter sent by former State Rep. Rick Noriega to the SEIU screening board. Ultimately, he said:

The time is not right to take on this race, and the fundraising needed, for the Noriega family. We are dedicated to public service, and tell you this with much regret–this seat is a true opportunity for leadership, one with which great things could be accomplished.

In fact, Noriega went a bit further and challenged the currently interested to run positive campaigns.

The constituents need to expect more–the debate truly needed about education, health care, infrastructure, revenue, economic development and jobs has not been on display.

Senate District 6 needs leadership, not a bitter battle for a plum elected office. You, as leaders, need to challenge the candidates to rise above self-interest and put forth plans that create real change, real opportunity in SD6.

Yikes!

Back to fundraising, the bottom line is that it’s just too difficult to run against two well-funded opponents, no matter the name recognition. As far as the issues are concerned, it’s been my experience that in these types of races, the records and stances aren’t much different. So, the folks making the money are the oppo-research pros looking for the most negative things about an individual, rather than small things that would probably result in bigger gain. This stuff might make it to a negative mail piece (or push-card) or two, but will it resonate? Will it tamp down any enthusiasm remaining from the 2012 races?

Ultimately, this race is all about the field–who knocks on more doors, who makes more phone calls, and who drags more people to the polls. Of course, the personal negativity could reach voters in this manner, as well. Consequently, that may increase the minutes spent with a prospective voter when one is trying to reach as many as possible.

Anyway, Noriega’s announcement gives those in the running a clearer shot to the win. Of course, Rick Perry is still sitting on SD-6, and at least Sylvia Garcia has been calling on Perry to set a date.

Garcia to Perry: Call This Election

Sylvia Garcia, the former county commish running for Texas Senate District-6 has asked Gov. Rick Perry to call a special election as soon as possible. Perry has yet to respond or say anything about SD-6, so, Sylvia Garcia is engaging the people of Senate District 6 by asking them to sign a petition to show Perry that the people want a State Senator sooner and not at his political leisure.

“The legislature will start on January 8th and Senate District 6 needs a strong voice in Austin to restore public education funding and fight for healthcare for our seniors and our children. Unless Governor Perry calls the election right away we could be without a state senator in Austin for two months after the session has started,” said Garcia.

Representative Jessica Farrar pointed out that the 7 state representatives that are in Senate District 6 are left with out a leader in the Senate to work with on bringing their legislative issues forward from the house. “We need a Senator on January 8th, I am asking all of my constituents to sign, please go to Sylvia Garcia’s website and sign the petition,” said Farrar.

Garcia continues to campaign and the endorsements continue to roll-in, including influential neighborhood organizing group, Texas Organizing Project. Hundreds attended the grand opening of her campaign HQ on Saturday, and already over 100 have signed the petition demanding the Governor call a special election.

The energy is definitely out there. The people want an election and they deserve it. Like any political office, it belongs to the people.

Sylvia R. Garcia Announces for SD-6

From the Inbox:

Houston, TX — Houston community advocate and longtime public servant Sylvia Garcia announced today she will run in the coming special election to represent Texas Senate District 6.

“I’ve been fighting for our community and our families for years in Houston and Southeast Harris County,” said Garcia, “and now I am ready to take our fight to Austin.” “Our neighborhoods need a State Senator who understands our priorities and our values,” Garcia continued.

“Rick Perry and his Tea Party allies have already cut nearly six billion dollars from public schools and fired thousands of teachers. Now Perry’s opposition to the new health care law means four hundred thousand people in Harris County could continue to be without health insurance. That is why I am running for Senate — to protect our schools, our jobs, and our families,” concluded Garcia.

“I have worked with Sylvia to improve the availability of health care in East Harris County,” said Representative Ana Hernandez Luna (Dist. 143). “She understands the issues, has the ability to work with others to achieve the goal, and the passion and energy to stay in the fight until the battle is won.”

“Sylvia has never stopped working for us,” said House Democratic Caucus Leader Jessica Farrar. “Serving as a social worker, attorney, city controller and county commissioner has provided her broad experience and solid relationships at all levels of governent. She is well equipped to fight against the special interests in Austin putting people first. Sylvia’s priorities of education, healthcare, and jobs are what strengthen families most.”

“You can trust Sylvia Garcia to say what she’ll do and do what she says,” said State Representative Armando Walle (Dist. 140). “Throughout her years of public service you have always been able to count on Sylvia’s word.  She has the intellect, honesty, maturity professionalism and integrity we want in our representative in the Texas Senate. Someone our children can be proud of”.

“Make no mistake, Rick Perry and his cronies are not going to give up their disrespectful opposition to our President,” said Representative Garnet Coleman (Dist. 147).  “They may have lost the election, but our community knows Perry will keep fighting our President’s efforts to improve our schools and health care. We need Sylvia Garcia to stand with us.”

“I have worked with Sylvia on community projects for many years, both when she was an elected official and when she was a community activist,” said Yolanda Navarro, “Whether it was neighborhood improvements, redistricting or better schools she was always a leader we could count on to lead the charge.”

Garcia will announce her campaign team in the coming days, and plans to begin campaigning immediately.