Now, Primary Season May Begin

Saturday’s elections didn’t have an explosive finish in regards to turnout, but the finishes did ultimately show who wanted to win the most. In the end, Houston ISD ends up with one of the most diverse boards I’ve ever seen.

In District I, Elizabeth Santos earned a whopping 61% of the vote to earn her spot at HISD. It was quite the insurgency in a fight for the future of public schools. In District III, Dr. Sergio Lira took the early vote and election day vote in grand fashion, ending up with 57% of the vote.

As diversity goes, HISD will now have four Hispanics, three African-Americans, one Asian-American, and one Anglo-American. Also, it’s the most progressive, pro-public schools group of trustees ever to serve together–all elected and some even in tough-to-win districts.

Congrats to the winners and current office holders!

Pretta VanDible Stallworth cruised to victory with almost 72% of the vote to win a seat on the Houston Community College Board.

There are challenges ahead mostly coming from the Texas and federal government, and that’s why the 2018 Democratic Primary is so important. Stay tuned!

 

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Thoughts on Viernes – 120817

Proof of Poverty

As I mentioned yesterday, some fact-checkers in Austin wanted proof of Democratic candidate for Texas Governor Lupe Valdez’s farm worker family roots. No, they didn’t ask for college transcripts, proof of serving in the military or anything like that. They wanted proof of poverty! I was surprised to see that Valdez’s people sent in a couple of photos.

Now, I wish my family had had the money to buy film for the ol’ Kodak 110 to take pics of us in the fields, or cooking meals on coals because we ran out of gas, or using said coals to heat the bathroom so we could bathe for school. Anyway…

Little Brown Trust Fund Boy Gets Opponent

I was happy to find out that Miguel Suazo, an oil/gas lawyer,will file to run for Texas Land Commissioner. Suazo worked with NM Senator Jeff Bingaman, so, he’s no stranger to government service. I look forward to hearing  his story and his plans for the office.

State Senator Borris Miles

I have had the privilege of representing the constituents of District 146 and Senate District 13 for over 10 years.

Because I’ve shown myself to be an effective voice of the people, I have made powerful enemies who will go to any length to destroy and disrupt my service.  I will not continue to address anonymous accusations that attack my personal and professional character as an effective lawmaker.

Sexual harassment is a serious offense and I plan to join my colleagues in the Senate in developing policy that allows all people due process and assurances they may work effectively in a fair and safe environment.

The people expect me to do my best and I will continue to fight for them until they decide otherwise. I will not be deterred.

OK, then.

VOTE ON SABADO (FIND YOUR VOTING LOCATION HERE)

HISD District I – Elizabeth Santos

HISD District III – Jesse A. Rodriguez

HCC District IX – Pretta Vandible Stallworth

Lupe Valdez Files for Texas Governor; Farm Worker Family Scrutinized

Sheriff Lupe Valdez has filed to run for Texas Governor in the Dem Primary. It was expected and hoped for by many who have thought of the current choices as a complete flatline–including me. Thanks, Lupe!

Like any major candidate, one attempts to connect with voters with a good narrative. And Lupe Valdez has a story.

Valdez was born in San Antonio in 1947, one of eight children in a family of migrant farm workers. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern Nazarene University — a liberal arts college in Bethany, Oklahoma — before receiving a master’s in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Texas at Arlington.

The story continues with her service in the US Army as a captain, her work as a federal agent with CPB and as an investigator and her trek toward becoming sheriff of the state’s second largest county. If anything, she was among the first Democrats to inject some hope into Dems about Texas one day becoming blue, having been elected Sheriff in that first blue Dallas wave in 2004.

As Sheriff, Valdez hasn’t backed away from Greg Abbott’s politicization of the immigration issue, particularly the use of 287(g). Valdez at one point decided that low-grade undocumented offenders wouldn’t be reported to ICE, earning her the ire of Greg Abbott and a threat that cities and counties who didn’t cooperate would have their funds cut. Her mention of deportations and family separations in her post-filing speech shows she’s the only candidate ready to take on Abbott.

As excited as I am about her candidacy, I was also a bit irked when I read a “fact-check” article about Lupe in which it seemed her farm worker kid life was being questioned.

“I am the youngest of eight children born to migrant workers.”

The fact-checking PolitiFact Texas project based at the Austin American-Statesman hasn’t independently verified that biographical detail.

What’s Selby looking for? Kennedy-esque 8mm video of the family arriving at some midwestern state? Of them going up and down the plowed fields picking sugar beets? Smiling for the camera? Of old pay stubs, which included the deductions for overpriced rent and groceries billed by the farmers, thus taking most of the summer’s paycheck?

South Texas Chicano families of 10 picking sugar beets in Cassleton, North Dakota, cherries in Sturgeon Bay, WI and tomatoes and strawberries in California and Bluffton, Indiana were the norm in the 50’s. That included the Medellins and the Sernas.

I take it a bit personally, having been the son of farm workers. I even had the privilege of hanging out in a sugar beet field one summer that our family needed to go earn some money. It wasn’t that successful a summer–long story. And I’m sure there are plenty of these long stories that are hard to document, but that many of us wear as badges of honor and with which we can identify.

If Selby and others want to know about Chicano farm worker life, then I suggest he watch “…And the Earth Did Not Swallow Him.” The movie based on the autobiography of Crystal City’s Tomas Rivera.

That said, I’m ready to support Lupe Valdez and I look forward to what develops.

UPDATE:  Lupe Valdez has provided the fact-checkers with photos of her migrant days. Instead of black/white photos, my response to them would have been a lot more…colorful.

 

 

Looking Forward To The 2018 Dem Primary

Well, looks like all the excitement (and panic) over the race for Congressional District 29 has subsided as current and former officeholders who contemplated running for the seat decided to either run for re-election to their respective seats, or, go in a different direction.

State Reps Armando Walle (140) and Carol Alvarado (145) have decided to run for re-election. Both have served for multiple terms and are considered leaders at the Capitol who will be needed to take on an expected right-wing onslaught of bigoted bills. Of course, both may also be thinking of the free-shot at running for SD-6 without the need to resign if/when Sylvia Garcia is elected to Congress, which we’ll know after the Dem Primary since the district usually goes Democratic in November.

Former Sheriff Adrian Garcia has also decided to go in a different direction and challenge right-winger Jack Morman for County Commish Pct. 2, which covers East Harris County. As much as Adrian Garcia and I have debated on some issues, I’ve always been a fan of his. I think he can run hardest toward November, as well as excite the electorate to vote down-ballot.

Harris Democrats have been updating a page containing folks running for judicial positions. There are a few candidates in contested races that I’m supporting, including Rabeea Collier for the 113th District Court; Fred Cook for the 189th District Court; and Raul Rodriguez for County Criminal Court #13.

I’ve known Rabeea for over a decade, which is most of her legal career. We both organized in the Kingwood/Humble area as activists trying to increase the Democratic bottom line. As an activist, she has worked hard to turn Harris County blue. As an attorney, she zealously represents her clients. She has put in the sweat equity over the years and deserves to be our nominee.

Fred Cook first ran for judge in 2008 in a very contested race in which Judge Steven Kirkland was the victor. I supported Fred back then and we both supported Kirkland afterwards. When I heard he was running again, I felt it was about time.

Raul Rodriguez has run for positions at different times, while also putting in time volunteering in various activities. I mean, whenever I go to something in the community, Raul (and wife Pati) are there! Raul deserves to be our nominee in November. He’s experienced and has a sincere connection to the community.

There will be more to come as more candidates file, especially the statewides. I’m hoping Sheriff Lupe Valdez of Dallas files for Governor, otherwise, I won’t be left with any good choices and I may just skip the race entirely (or hold my nose in November). And I really hope Little Brown Trust Fund Baby gets a challenge for Land Commish.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE:  And within an hour of this post, this just in:

Lina Hidalgo, Democrat for Harris County Judge, Responds to State of the County

Well, if you’re going to take on Ed Emmett (and Republicans, in general), Lina Hidalgo, Democrat for County Judge, offers up the right attitude and ideas on which to base such a challenge.

As much as it is a message to voters around the County, it is also a message to Democrats who so easily get enamored by so-called “moderates” who still do much for their right-wing-nut-job of a political party. Including staying quiet and raising dollars for them even when laws like SB4 are passed.

Give it a listen!

 

Early Voting for Houston ISD and HCC Begins Today

That’s right, some of y’all need to vote, again.

First of all, I misblogged the other day when I stated Alief ISD would have a run-off. In reality, the candidate with the most votes wins. So, DC-endorsed Natasha Butler, who won by 11 votes, joins Breaux, Nguyen, and Key on the board. Congrats to all of them. Serve the kids and the rest of us well.

Meanwhile, as many as 78,000+ voters will have the opportunity to elect a new HISD Trustee in District I. Voters will choose between Elizabeth Santos, who earned 45% of the vote in Round 1, and Gretchen Himsl. Another 55,000+ voters in District III will get to pick between Jesse A. Rodriguez and Sergio Lira. Almost 10,000 and over 3500 voted in District I and III, in Round 1, respectively.

As far as nods are concerned, I’ll say most of my friends are supporting Elizabeth Santos in District I, and my friends seem split in District III, but I’ve been rooting for Jesse A. Rodriguez.

In HCCS District IX, Preta VanDible Stalworth is the progressive candidate in the mix. And that’s all I’ll say about that. District IX is in Southern Harris County and stretches from around the Southwest Freeway to beyond 288 to zip code 77048. Around 100,000 voters get to choose in this one, though a little over 10K voted in Round 1.

With just a fraction of local voters eligible to vote in these races, you might ask yourself:  Can I vote in this one? Check and see if you have a ballot here. Then find your early voting location here.

So, get out and vote. It really does count in these low turnout elections.

 

It Was A Great Election Night in Houston, Too

Despite the low 6.7% turnout around Harris County, the results of the 2017 Election still amounted to a great election night for progressive candidates and issues.

There were several big wins in the race for Houston ISD School Board. In at least three districts that were at one point considered too conservative for progressives to even challenge, there was quite the change of direction.

My friend and current District VI trustee, Holly Flynn Vilaseca, was in a race to earn her first full term after being unanimously appointed earlier this year. Taking on two well-funded opponents in what was considered a conservative area, which includes West Houston and Sharpstown, Vilaseca proved that running everywhere is the thing to do nowadays, especially if you run a sleek, well-disciplined campaign responsive to voters. By early this morning when the final tally was announced, she had earned 50.38%, avoiding a run-off. Congrats, Holly.

Current District VII trustee, Anne Sung, who had squeaked by in 2016 to win a partial term, steam-r0lled over the same opponent from 2016 with 61.6%. VII is another district that had been occupied by a conservative, but had been relatively untested by more progressive candidates. Again, running a disciplined campaign, connecting with voters, and truly caring about public schools will earn one the vote. And, in this case, in grand fashion.

In District V, an open race to replace an outgoing trustee, Sue Dimenn Deigaard ran a campaign that attracted support from across the political spectrum in another tough-to-crack district that includes Bellaire. With 51.26%, Deigaard earned herself a full-term, avoiding a run-off, with a campaign focused on serving the kids in the district.

Current HISD Board President Wanda Adams had a couple of challengers, but earning 68% showed that she is well-liked by her constituents.

The excitement is not over, though, as there will be two run-offs for HISD Board. District I has the classic match-up, with a Northside candidate and a Heights candidate. Elizabeth Santos came close to an outright win with 44.78% with an insurgency pushed by organized educators and volunteers. Her opponent, Gretchen Himsl, had the support of outgoing trustee Anna Eastman. In District III, radio personality and community activist Jesse A. Rodriguez earned 39.85%, while educator Sergio Lira made the run-off with 33.75%. So, these neighborhoods can expect more door-knocking, flyers, and mail.

ALIEF ISD

Considering the traffic on my general informational post about Alief ISD candidates and the less than 3800 voters who participated, I may have helped a few voters make some decisions in my neighborhood. No doubt, Alief was about to add several new faces to the board.

Darlene Breaux, John Nguyen, and Jennifer Key won easily. Position 7 will have a run-off, though, between Natasha Butler and Janet Spurlock, each earning 38%. So, let’s hope for more excitement to attract plenty of more voters in this one. [EDITOR’S NOTE:  Natasha Butler was the top vote-getter and the win goes to that person without a run-off. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALIEF ISD’s Board of Trustees who were sworn in on November 28, 2017.]

HCC

My HCC trustee, Robert Glaser, cruised to victory despite a challenge from the far-right. Glaser has done a great job and his commitment to transparency is still greatly needed. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz beat two challengers with 73%. And there will be a run-off in District IX between Pretta VanDible Stallworth and Gene Pack.

City of Houston

Looks like Houstonians were willing to support all of the bonds. Over 70% of the vote was earned by all of them. Good. Houston needed this injection of funds to add some vital infrastructure.

More To Come

Well, school board elections are probably the most important races in which we can participate. Especially in the Houston area where decisions affecting over 200,000-plus students come into play. While many make this a race about credentials, the bottom line is that we need to support those who have the best interests of the kids in mind, whether they work in education or they serve the community in some other way. And whether they’ve lived in the area all of their lives or transplanted here and hit the ground running. Seriously, you won’t attract support from transplants with “born and raised” statements. Theoretical expertise is nothing if you can’t earn buy-in from voters. So, for those voting in run-offs, study the candidates, study what you want out of your school district, study what you’re getting  from your school district (beyond your tax bill), and pick your candidate.

ELECTIONS

And, with the delays coming from the election office, I think we need to start using #HireDianeTrautman instead of the other thing about firing the current occupant.

Election 2017 Begins Today!

Early voting for the 2017 election begins today. You get to vote on state constitutional amendments, school and college board elections, bonds, and probably other important stuff. This kind of election is the kind to which no one shows up–or, a small percentage of the voting population shows up. Some say your vote counts many times more than usual. I’m thinking democracy is in danger when so few show up and a lot is on the line.

Anyway…

ALIEF ISD

I did a small write-up about Alief ISD, since I live in it. My picks are as follows:  Position 4-Jesus Zamora; Position 5-NO PICK; Position 6-Jennifer Key; and Position 7-Natasha Butler. It’ll be good to see new faces on the Alief school board.

STATE AMENDMENTS

As far as the state amendments go, I can’t say any of them jump out at me. You see political expediency, playing of tax-cutting favorites with certain groups, benefits for the banking industry, and one particular item about political appointments. One in particular even sets up rules on when and how people can challenge the constitutionality of a law. The easiest thing for me is just to vote against everything. You do what you want.

Houston Bonds

The City of Houston is having a bond election. You can check out Lift Up Houston to read up on the pension obligation bonds to save the police pension, and the big dollar items ($490 million) the City needs to provide services to its population–fire station and police upgrades, parks, multi-service centers, etc.

The easiest thing is to vote FOR all of them. I may wait a few minutes on Prop A (Pension bonds) before clicking FOR (or not clicking anything)–since we were made to wait on joining the SB4 lawsuit on account of the pension stuff. Too bad I can’t postpone for two weeks. I’ll decide what to do when I walk up to the E-Slate.

HCC

My current HCC Trustee (District V) is Robert Glaser. He needs to get re-elected.

HISD

I don’t live in Houston ISD, but I certainly have a few favorite candidates: District I should vote Monica Flores Richart; District VI would be smart to keep Holly Flynn Vilaseca; District VII should keep Anne Sung; District V has a good candidate in Sue Dimenn Deigaard; and I’ll go with Jesse Rodriguez in District III.

Now, the League of Women Voters has a good resource in their voter guide to help you decide on amendments and candidates. Read up on the items on the ballot.

Find your early voting location here. Find your sample ballot here.

Get to it!

It’s Election 2017 Season! [Alief ISD Edition]

Well, it’s that time again–2017’s election season. Believe it or not, you have lots to vote on, whether it is amendments to the Texas Constitution, local school and college elections, and even some big bonds. This first post on the 2017 elections, I’ll talk about Alief ISD. One thing is for sure, one has to love the diversity on the ballot in all the races.

ALIEF ISD

With various district races for Houston ISD school board leading the local excitement, I’m lucky to live in Alief ISD. There’s four races in that one and I get to vote in everyone of them since we don’t have single member districts. I’m still trying to get to know the candidates on the ballot since they rarely attempt to get to know us inside of the beltway (I’m only a block away from Houston ISD).

Position 4 is a race to fill a vacancy left by the untimely passing of Dedre Jefferson. Darlene Breaux and Jesus Zamora are in the running.

Position 5 has G. “John” Nguyen and Donald Murphy Guillory in a race to replace Nhi T. Ho.

Position 6 has Jennifer Key and Anton Dowls in a race to replace Sarah Winkler.

And Position 7 has Soren Velarde, Natasha Butler, and Janet Spurlock in a race to replace Tiffany Thomas.

I’ll be studying the candidates more, although by the looks of some who are DACA supporters or progressive-minded on other issues, some may be easier to choose than others.

If you’re an ALIEF ISD voter, click on the links for each candidate, get to know them, and contact them with questions. They answer to you!

Voter registration ends on October 10. Early voting is October 23 thru November 3, so, click on the link to find your nearest early voting center. Election Day is November 7, so you can find your location and print your ballot at this site.

 

 

Save The Date: 10/16/17 – Rev. Barry Lynn in Houston

 
Join the Houston Chapter
of
 
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
 
As We Honor the 25 Years of Leadership
of
  The Reverend Barry W. Lynn
 Ordained Minister, Lawyer, Author
 
And Celebrate the 
70th anniversary of Americans United
 
 
“Americans United–
Past, Present and Future”
 
Monday, October 16, 2017
7:30 p.m. 
Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church
 
Free and open to the public       Plenty of free parking

Reception following program