Well, the 2011 City of Houston elections are finally over, and I seem to have a lot of disappointed friends, especially with the results of At-Large 2 and At-Large 5.
In At-Large 2, Andrew Burks edged out Kristi Thibaut by a couple-hundred votes. Burks was helped by winning about 2/3 of the vote in Fort Bend County, and quite possibly by an undervote that amounted to 8% of those who voted.
Burks earned the endorsement of the right-wing Hotze bunch, and as I told my friends, he just needed enough of them to support him while praying that your run-of-the-mill Republicans who never vote for an ID’d Democrat skipped the race. We’ll see if the precinct-by-precinct count tells us as much, but it sure seems like it right now.
With this said, Jack Christie took his fifth try at unseating Jolanda Jones and ran away with a decisive victory. In the case of At-Large 5, there was virtually no undervote (1%). Which, again, might point to Republicans who ignored At-Large 2, but had their sights set on Jones. Christie made the campaign all about personalities and the voters he targeted responded.
What also seemed to have helped the winners in these two races was an effective ballot-by-mail program.
Obviously, turn-out is an issue. In the AL-2 race, there will be many who say that the losing margin could have been erased with a little more ground effort in a few precincts. Still, close races are close races for whatever reason. Some of my friends have called the low voter turn-out apathy, but I’ll keep calling it voter indifference caused by a lack of engagement.
About the only thing I’ll celebrate is that my prediction in the District B race, which I announced on “This Week With Sylvia Garcia,” was correct. Congratulations to Jerry Davis on his 98 vote victory.
In District A, well, Stardig may have been a victim of that whole lack of voter engagement thing I just mentioned. District A is a richly diverse area, but if one isn’t willing to engage all voters until it is really needed, well, one loses. Any serious 2013 challenger needs to keep that in mind.
People need to be made to feel like they matter. And I’m not saying one candidate or a group of candidates is to blame, I’m just saying that this is a systemic problem that is never addressed during non-election season. Frankly, this has been going on for decades.
Ultimately, I don’t know what to expect from this set of winners. Having participated in interviews of three of them (Brown was a no-show), I can say that Christie is hardly a combative conservative in person–at least not yet. I think Andrew Burks offers some pretty progressive ideas given his community-oriented background, but what his right-wing support base may require of him leaves me without expectations. Jerry Davis is a thoughtful member of the community and I know he’ll be fighting for his District. Given Brown’s right-wing experiences, well, perhaps she’ll blow away the memory of Addie Wiseman from City Hall. We shall see.
City Hall is still about forging relationships, right? Let’s see what happens.
More to come, I’m sure.