Category Archives: Cultura

COVID19 in a Small South Texas Town

Here is your daily reminder that Greg Abbott and the Republicans are awful, evil people.

I just saw a Facebook live press conference of the leaders of my hometown/county reporting 4 COVID19 cases. The school district has shut down its food distribution program because of a positive test result. As they try to get ahead of it with contact tracing, medical care, quarantine, and providing the people with the latest information, they are basically fighting against Greg Abbott’s lack of concern for poor and struggling communities.

These elected leaders are urging people to stay home, use masks, stop traveling out of the town (which is difficult for those with medical appointments in Laredo or San Antonio), keep out-of-town relatives from visiting (some cases were apparently traced back to a traveler), and continue to follow CDC guidelines. The worry in their voices was palpable.

Good people are reporting get-togethers of 10 or more people out of concern for themselves and others. The townspeople, my friends and relatives, are worried and they are doing what they can, which is commendable considering that Texas leadership is purposely failing Texans.

My community has a lot of health issues and an aging population that is at risk. It doesn’t help when local leaders are trying to protect their communities, yet, Greg Abbott just shirks his responsibilities and shows us he just doesn’t care and offers up conflicting rants and misinformation on Fox News, while being lauded by the Trump administration.

My little town and county have around 7,000 and 12,000 people, respectively. I live in a metro area of 7 million and our local leaders struggle with bad Texas leadership, too. And the fear and worry are strong here, too.

My hometown and county is among the poorest in the nation and heavily uninsured. If one can’t afford to travel 10 miles to the next town’s hospital for COVID19 testing, they must wait for a monthly mobile testing unit that opens for eight hours for one day. The fear is only compounded by the wait.

Although I write about this because I worry, I can also say that I am not surprised by what Trump and Abbott are doing. I’m more pissed off at those who made an electoral choice to keep Abbott by either voting for him or “not voting” for the Latina Democrat because she didn’t “sound” like the leader they wanted (“sounds” like coded language, there) and they guessed Abbott wasn’t that bad. One can argue about not voting period. Hey, I get it. After decades of fighting for candidates, I can say that I’m pretty cynical about most that I simply do not identify with.

But in times like these, how our elected officials respond has everything to do with politics. It’s the difference between one State Representative who uses his contacts to gain access to masks and PPE to distribute to those in need versus a US Senator from Texas who just wants a haircut and makes a show of it. It’s the difference between small town leaders going on Facebook Live to practically beg people to put the people’s safety first versus a Governor who uses TV to whine about leaders who put the people’s safety first. And it’s the difference between a County Judge and a District Judge who make decisions based on facts versus Republicans who make decisions based on profit and hate. Voting matters!

Did You Hear Rick Treviño’s Cinco de Mayo Song?

When I saw that Rick Treviño had a new single called Cinco de Mayo, I immediately thought, “What the heck is he doing?”

I immediately went to memories of Little Joe’s Dieciseis de Septiembre which I first thought was hokey back in the 90s, but I accept more now because of issues regarding Chicano culture and identity that I like to research.

Trevino’s Cinco de Mayo starts off a little hokier speaking to the usual drinking and partying ID that the holiday has. But he manages to deliver a message if you listen closely, as well as a strong piano and horn samba sound.

“I keep serving up Jose Cuervo and calling the Gringo mi amigo. Everyone’s saying, “Que pasa” and singing La Bamba.”

Uh, did he just do some reverse stereotyping that I enjoy sarcastically doing? If so, Right On!

Anyway, he adds:

“Maybe just for today, leave the border alone. Today don’t send anyone home. It’s Cinco de Mayo.”

Did he just make a pro-migrant political pronouncement?

OK, Rick. I’m liking this tune more as I give it more listens. Whatever the intent, great message. Listen to it on YouTube.

No doubt, Trevino has been on swing of cultural pride in his music. Plus, there are collabs he’s done with greats, such as Los Super Seven, Ruben Ramos, as well as being produced by Raul Malo on some recent albums, among other projects.  So, his creativity is understandable and way different from his Nashville-produced early work.

Last year, with Los Texmaniacs, and then Trevino with Flaco Jimenez, released a single called I Am A Mexican. The tune is about a Mexican’s love for the adopted country that shows its dislike for him on a daily basis. It’s poignant, yet, quite sharp. And it gets quite the response when he performs it live.

Another tune is Cowboys Like Me, with which many can identify with it’s intro lyric, “My granddaddies daddy crossed the Rio Grande, trying to find a better life than what he had…” It’s one of my favorites as my yard had a chain-linked fence, and I loved using my unloaded BB rifle to play “cowboys” in the backyard with friends. (Listen to it to get it.)

Anyway, enjoy the tunes. I’m looking forward to the new album. And if someone whines about it, tell them, “It’s about identity, pendejo!”

Gracias, Rick!

Cinco de Mayo

I Am A Mexican

Cowboys Like Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A COVID-19 de Mayo

Give Us The Tortilla Recipe!

Well, I received a few requests for the flour tortilla recipe that I use. I’m sure you can find a recipe anywhere on the internet, and some may look familiar to this one, yet, folks tell me they didn’t come out right or they were in the shape of a football or Texas. Well, it can happen.

The key to tortilla making is confidence! And the ability to laugh at mistakes and salvage what you can. (And a heated tortilla press!) In other words, funny-shaped tortillas are still edible! Just get a pat of butter and go to town on them.

Anyway, the recipe passed down to me and the siblings by Flora Medellin and put on paper by my sister, Toni, is this:

Homemade Flour Tortillas

2 c. flour; 1/2 tbsp baking powder; 1 tbsp salt (to taste); 1/2 c. shortening (to taste); 3/4 c. hot water.

In a deep bowl, mix dry ingredients. Cut in vegetable shortening, with pastry blender, butter knives, or fingers, until mixture resembles medium/coarse cracker crumbs. (I have also used 1/4 cup of canola or vegetable oil instead of shortening). Add hot water slowly to form soft dough.

Knead the dough until well blended and pliable. Form dough into 12 small rounds. Roll out each round with a rolling pin, or flatten with a heated tortilla press, to desired thickness (1/16 to 1/8 inch).

Cook on nonstick griddle on medium/high heat until done, flipping occasionally. If tortilla puffs up while cooking, do not attempt to flatten (it might cause a steam burn), just keep flipping until done. Serve immediately or allow to cool on flat service covered with a tea towel before storing.

So, Friday is your shopping day to buy the ingredients. Wear a mask and gloves, and avoid people. Get to it. Then, Saturday morning, it’s time to make the tortillas. You have a weekend project for DIY Tex-Mex!

La*45 II and Tejano Music During the COVID19 Hiatus

Tejano Music isn’t just a genre of music. It’s a way of life. A part of our Chicano culture. Musica that grew from singing old songs while picking crops, at family fiestas, and around a huge fire in the back yard. A music and culture that has thrived and struggled, much like its listeners.

And having been a listener and hard-core fan since my first Roberto Pulido y Los Clasicos concert at a school stadium in Crystal City, TX in ’77, it’s a way of life that I’ve enjoyed and have had to help defend from corporate types (and local rodeos and finicky fair-weather fans) that simply want to kill it for whatever reason. Well, even during The ‘Rona, La Onda continues to breathe and it breathes life into stay-at-home fans.

Yes, watching the Cheeto Jesus ruminate about bleach injections can cause one to easily spiral. But thanks to some of my favorite bands and musicians, mental health has been within reach of my cell phone or my laptop as these músicos set-off to survive during this pandemic. Livestreamed concerts by artists like Los Texmaniacs (Max and Josh), Michael Guerra of The Mavericks, David de La Garza (of La Mafia), and others have provided some respite from the current situation. Gracias a Dios for all of this talent that many of us take for granted.

But these concerts aren’t free, although, they’re not forcing you to pay. These bands have been knocked off their tour buses and have taken to opening up Venmo, Paypal, and CashApp accounts so they can make some survival money as their livelihood instantly dried up in March. So, if you see a livestream concert with a payment link, give a little! “No sean codos,” as my Pop used to say.

All of this said, I was so happy when I saw that one of my favorite bands, La*45, was going live on Facebook to present their new production, La*45 II. No, it wasn’t a concert, but a listening session from their recording studio. It was intimate and full of studio and road stories, along with some pretty lofty conversation about music-making and theory. It was mind-blowing, though I think we would have been left in tatters if they’d not been as humble about their talents.

La 45, self-dubbed “the NextGen Chicanos,” is one of those special bands made up of the usual pieces, but also with a powerful 5-piece horn section. Yes, one of those big bands that bring up memories of Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia, Latin Breed, The Royal Jesters, and Tortilla Factory. Compadres Mike Torres III and John Ontiveros, La Familia alums, have put together some pretty impressive elements that not only record great music, but reproduce it live to near-perfection. And their long-awaited 3rd album is finally here.

The first single, Como Me Alegro, was released a year ago while production continued on the album. A hard-driving ranchera with excellent use of the horns and an accordion break, it’s one of those tunes that floats you to the dance floor. Another single is both a tribute to and a collab with the King of the Brown Sound, Little Joe Hernandez, Traigo Mi .45. Yes, the band is named for this classic tune and Torres, III and Hernandez trade-off on delivering the lyrics. A similarly classic-sounding tune is Asi Lo Quisiste, with the addition of harmonies from Torres, III’s better half, Amy, and an amazing sax solo.

The horn section gets quite the workout with a couple of sweeping tunes:  The  cumbia, Cumbia de la Media Noche and a samba, La .45 Anthem. The anthem includes some amazing drumming, trumpet, sax and guitar solos from Will O’Rourke, John Ontiveros, Ricky Ray Hernandez, and Estevan Ramirez, respectively. Moriria Por Ti has a Roberto Pulido-feel to it with its dual sax performance and Tejano cumbia sound. [Shout out to Ricky Ray for being a Texas State Bobcat!]

Although the album has an R&B feel, it is How Could This Happen, that shows off that ability–vocally and musically. La 45 is known for their ability to move from Tejano to Cumbia to R&B and back in a live setting.

Solo Un Juguete, with its Steve Gadd drum intro and keyboard-heavy melody, brought memories of the 80s which saw the introduction of synthesizers to La Onda. [Side Note:  Mazz did a similar drum intro in 1984 with the intro to Ay Muchacha from the Standing Ovation album, for all those historians out there.] Mike and Amy Torres collab on another modernized classic, Con La Misma Tijera. Herbie Lopez’s organ backdrop injects the classic sound into the tune. Que Bonito, offers a jazzy tenor sax intro by Hernandez before heading into a signature ranchera.

All in all, La 45 II is a nice package of cruizin’ music that soothes and causes general happiness. At least, that’s what it did for me. And, next time there’s a super dance in San Antonio produced by Henry Pepsi Peña and featuring La 45, we’re there!

One more thing. The eye-catching artwork on the cover and in the liner notes is by Chicana artist Bianca Mireles. She’s a West Texan who is now based in New Hampshire. Check out her work on her insta.

And get your copy of La 45 II at La45Music.com. You can get the digital version for $10, or, for $15 download it and receive the CD in a week or so. I did the latter.

 

 

 

 

The Pandemic Poetry Project

UPDATE 5/3/2020: Current status of “The Pandemic Poetry Anthology,” project. We have twenty (20) submissions to date! The deadline is May 31st. I challenge everyone who has not participated to hurry, and join this historic book project! Thank you to all who have submitted their poem. We have some very thought-provoking and enlightening work!

I got word today from Houston poet/author/teatrista Manuel Nava Leal that a book of poetry created during and about the times of the Coronavirus is in the works. The poetry can be targeted at adults, children, or familia.

This collection is to be published under the title, “The Pandemic Poems.”

Deadline for submissions is May 31st and can be sent to Manuel thru FB Messenger, or by email to mnavaleal@yahoo.com.

This book will be submitted to the Library of Congress so that it will remain in our history.

Profits from purchases of this collection will benefit two non-profits which will be determined prior to publication and will be announced.

Also, if you need it, Manuel is willing to help you in prep and editing for submission and you can contact him for that, too.

So, stay connected to DosCentavos.net as we will surely hear more about this project.

Tortilla-Making In The Time of COVID19

Hey, all. Apologies for not posting much lately. I’ve been living the stay-at-home, physical distancing life for more than a few weeks to the point where I haven’t even cared to write about politics, or anything, much. Our federal and state leaders are failures, but we’ve known this about republinuts forever. Our local leaders are doing the best they can while dealing with failed leaders above them who only want to appease their wealthy buddies and nutjob supporters.  Still, I know the local leaders are trying despite those who attack and whine in order to score political points, rather than save lives. Kudos to County Judge Lina Hidalgo, especially, for leading instead of showboating.

Still, being at home means worrying about tasks that must get done–for work and for home. We need to stay healthy and survive by flattening the curve. It’s especially scary for folks I know who are immune-compromised, elderly, or uninsured. The fact that Republican leaders like Trump, Abbott, and Dan Patrick are hell-bent on putting these groups at risk is disturbing. And it’s also risky for everyone else. A few “no death” days are not enough to re-open the economy, but if the curve is starting to flatten, it means stay-at-home and mask orders actually work. 

I know we’ve been told to support our restaurants and their new “to-go” business model, but, other than to pick up a few things at Kroger or Aldi’s, I’ve stayed home. The future for restaurants is dim as reports about closings and future closings increase.  That said I can’t say I’ve done my part to help the restaurant situation, but things are uncertain all over, including my own livelihood and small business. So, I’ve been cooking a lot more than usual.

Yes, there have been lunches comprised of frozen pizzas and some processed meats during these last few weeks, but I’ve taken to making good meals right here at home, too. Why? Because it’s a money saver! (Sorry restaurants!) I don’t know how long this disaster will last, and Trump and his ilk have been complete assholes when it comes to saving peoples lives and even beginning simple mitigation early on. Their continued corporate giveaways continue to prop up the wealthy who aren’t going to do anything to create or save jobs. So, I’m staying home and I’m making my own meals for the foreseeable future.

I swear, it’s the spirit of my mother, Flora, that seems to overtake me every now and then. I was always good at cooking breakfasts. Whether it’s papas con huevo or chorizo con huevo, I’ve fed my siblings good breakfasts whenever called to do so, so cooking for myself isn’t anything new. But it’s happening on a daily basis, now.

There’s a good chorizo (the Cacique brand in a tube that costs $1) that Kroger sells that is hardly greasy (by Chicano household standards) and with fewer fillers than most. Or, get a big Russet potato for 68 cents, chop it up or even slice it up and then fry it in a little bit of canola oil (even better with bacon grease and Tony Chachere’s to spice it up) and the papas con huevo come out pretty damn good, too. For all those who say their first trips post-lockdown will be to Tex-Mex restaurants, why wait when you can DIY at home today! Add a pack of HEB flour tortillas or La Banderita corn tortillas and you’re set! (Salsa made from serrano peppers, tomatoes, and a bit of garlic and onion and you’re really set!). It’s great with coffee on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

During the first days of this disaster, I couldn’t find any bags of pinto beans to make at home on one of my excursions. My last trip to the HEB on North Gessner (Spring Branch) had me buying up some cans of HEB branded refried beans with jalapeño. They’re actually pretty good and they are made with lard (HEB really does know their stuff!). Kroger has the cans of Ranch Style pintos, too. Here’s a tip: Fry up some bacon and then throw the refried beans in there to make some tasty frijoles refritos with the grease and bits of bacon. Great side dish! Add some cheese in it and make some amazing bean and cheese tacos. It won’t replace making the beans yourself in an olla, like Flora did all her life, but at least you won’t go hungry for Tex-Mex.

For a few days, there seemed to be a bread shortage, too. Even the $3 per loaf kind! The Kroger’s sugar free one which I prefer was also missing, although, it’s there, now. So, I walked around looking for some flour–nothing! But there were two bags of wheat flour and packets of yeast, so, I brought them home. I was proud of myself for baking a simple, easy to make sugar-free wheat bread. It reminded me of my mom and dad making a pan loco in our fireplace (because the oven didn’t work) during those cold, winter days. Panic buying be damned, I thought! I can do this!! I did find some regular flour a couple of weeks later, too.

During Week 2, I was hit with the cooking bug again and thought about my Mom’s Mexican arroz. Fry up some white rice on a thin coating of canola oil until it browns. Add some chopped onion so it gets toasted, too. Add some salt and a can of tomato sauce, chicken broth and a bit of water and let the stuff boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or so. Then you fluff it up so it doesn’t stick and add some filler (meat!) to it. It is no longer just a side dish, but a meal! I had never tried to make it because I try to avoid complex carbs and knowing that I can make it could lead to a bodily disaster again; still, it came out pretty damn good. All those years of watching Flo in the kitchen paid off on this one.

On a Sunday, my newsfeed alerted me to a Catholic mass being livestreamed from my hometown of Crystal City. Sacred Heart Church was the one that I avoided as a kid–at least the indoctrination (Catechism) classes and all the sacraments. Still, I had a Mom who I joked prayed more than the monjitas (nuns), so, I still feel some weird connection to the church. Anyway, Sacred Heart’s priest, Father Silos, provided some extremely comforting and hopeful words at my mom’s memorial service in 2016. I knew he had something good for this Lockdown Sunday homily and so I watched it, listened, and even felt it. That dude is good!

I felt pretty good afterwards, which for someone who avoids religion (and church) religiously was a bit shocking. Suddenly, I felt the spirit of Flo envelop me. I took out the flour, the baking powder, some salt, and canola oil (sorry, no lard) and mixed up the dough and came up with a dozen homemade flour tortillas. Yes, memories of Flo and Pop did appear as I sifted the ingredients, added the hot water, kneaded the dough, and made the testales (dough balls) before rolling them out.

I hadn’t made tortillas in years. And recently, I’ve begun making corn tortillas using the Maseca Nixtamasa since they’re healthier and even better when they’re homemade. These flour ones, though, they complemented the baked chicken and frijoles refritos I made for lunch. I saved up a few tortillas to have with melted butter as a snack, too. When I made them back in the day, I’d get my Mom’s goat by telling her that mine were as good as hers only to make her begrudgingly agree as she added, “Ya te puedes casar.” (“Now, you can get married.” In other words, “Get outta my house!”)

Honestly, this current disaster we’re experiencing has revived all sorts of memories for me. Experiencing an overtaxed supply chain today is no different than growing up poor in South Texas in the 1980s. Back then, there was plenty of supply, but not enough money to buy it. But we survived it all–as a family. And I can’t forget those who are going through this today–those who have suddenly lost jobs and income. Those who work the gig economy. The musicians and fellow DJs who are suddenly livestreaming on social media with their Venmo links in full display. It’s painful and brings up memories of struggle that are both sad and happy.

When Pop’s disability check would arrive, we would stock up on flour, beans, rice, eggs, fresh bacon from the Benavides family’s store so we could save the bacon grease, lard, and ingredients to make salsa. Every now and then, we’d get a good cut of round steak to cut up and to mix into the Mexican rice or fideo my mom would make. All the stuff we bought, Flo would make it last. And one cooking session would amount to two meals, sometimes. This was especially helpful at the end of the month. I think I learned well from my Mom and Dad, except, instead of surviving poverty today, it’s about staying home to avoid crowds and avoiding COVID19. But I can’t forget those who are with nothing, and therefore, give a few bucks that I can to the Houston Food Bank. Either way, it’s about survival. And it’s still about making sure my family stays fed and healthy by physically distancing from the world as much as possible. A month in, we’re not out of the woods, no matter how much Trump and Abbott want to pretend it is from their well-secured, taxpayer-stocked cocoons. We must stay home, and if we go to the store, wear a mask and gloves.

I’ve noticed many of my social media connections doing a lot of restaurant pick-up, margaritas to-go, and I think I even saw someone picking up horchata-flavored cold brew to-go. (That’s too damn fancy! And weird!) And that’s great. The restaurants and their workers need help. And if you’re able to afford it, go for it! As for me, I’ll keep on cooking. And I’ll keep on stretching my pantry and my dollar because the future really is uncertain at all levels of society. And if it brings up some cool memories about survival that were made during an equally uncertain period in your life, then you’ve just reminded yourself that you can make it through this period, too!

 

2020 Dem Primary Results – Harris County

Well, the #StaceSlate did well, but we did end up with some heartbreaking losses and six or so run-offs.

First of all, congrats to my friend Judge Julia Maldonado of the 507th District Court. The family court judge overcame a couple of opponents, including one endorsed by the local fish wrap. But that’s OK, people realized that Maldonado is a good jurist and a great Democrat who serves the community well.

Also, to Natalia Cornelio, whom I wrote about after I met her, who defeated the incumbent quite handily. She worked her way to victory by forming a strong coalition based on the need to defeat an incumbent unfriendly to bail reform. And that’s a good thing.

And Judge Leslie Briones, appointed to the County Court At Law #4 bench after an accidental resignation, defeated the previous occupant. I guess she didn’t need to use the #NeverQuits hashtag I suggested because it seems the voters REALLY like her. Congrats, Laredo!

And huge congrats to my friend Ann Bennett on a decisive victory to remain the Democratic candidate for Tax Assessor-Collector. She’s been an effective officeholder, has improved customer service throughout the county, and is a champion for voter registration. I look forward to her re-election in November.

Of course, I was saddened to see my good friend Judge Larry Weiman defeated. I’ve supported Weiman since he first entered the political atmosphere in 2006–when it was still slightly unpopular to be a Democrat. Two years later, he, along with a great group of Democrats, defeated the Republicans in office. He was definitely a trendsetter, considering he didn’t take money from lawyers who had cases in the 80th District. Unfortunately, and I’ve stated this many times, it’s gotten a lot easier to win as a Democrat in Harris County, so, even the best jurist on the bench can be targeted for defeat in the Primary for no reason whatsoever, other than, because they can. Some long-time judges won’t be as targeted if they are great fundraisers and spread the wealth (protection money?), but some who don’t feel the need be part of the kingmaking class (like Weiman) will be easy targets. And it’ll happen more often, unfortunately, which will ultimately lead to calls for “balanced courts” once November rolls around.

My other friend, Judge Steven Kirkland, was also defeated. He has had a target on him throughout his political career. He was defeated previously thru homophobia and hate, and now, because they could (or maybe both). He is a good jurist, but it’s gotten easier to overlook effectiveness, issues, etc. I’m of the opinion that it could happen to anyone. And it will.

I’m not quite at the point where I would prefer politically appointed, rather than elected, judges, but some hybrid, revolving, based-on-experience track might be nice.

THE RUN-OFFS

It looks like State Senator Royce West snuck into a run-off for US Senate against Washington DC favorite/funded MJ Hegar. I think Christina Tzintzun Ramirez would have done better in South Texas if “Mama” hadn’t been on the ballot. (And did I see Little Joe doing a web ad/vid for “Mama”?) Anyway, #MyChoiceIsRoyce in this one. His experience and a track record of not stepping back from a fight is what we need on the ballot.

Fellow Crystal Citian Roberto Alonzo also made the run-off for Texas Railroad Commissioner. Having served in the Texas Lege for 20 years has given him actual experience in making laws and regulation. Frankly, I think that’s better than being a part of an industry that has shielded itself from all political liability and financial/environmental responsibility. If ever we needed an “outsider,” on the RRC, it is now. Roberto provides that option.

Also, I’m a South Texas Mexican. I’ve had a lot of tios, primos, friends, and probably a few enemies called “Beto” way before the white guy from El Paso came around. So, if you make it about names, realize you sound a little racist. Because I’m getting sick and tired of that crap. (That one was for my late union steward Tio Beto, who also went by Bob to appease those who couldn’t say Beto.)

In the County Commissioner Pct 3 race, Diana Martinez Alexander was the top vote-getter and is in the run-off. Alexander, with little money, but a lot of shoe leather, community-oriented campaigning, and heart earned more votes than her run-off competitor who came in with hundreds of thousands of dollars, glossy direct mailers, consultants, and the support of well-known connected types. It’s a clear choice for me, because, as my momma used to say, “tienes que tener modo con la gente” and Alexander is a great people person who will run a people-centered commissioner’s office while also standing up for our values and needs as a community.

NOT ON MY BALLOT

Congrats to Penny Morales Shaw on making the run-off for Texas House District 148. I think the primary showed that special elections suck and people are still not in voting mode when they happen. Plus, when you throw republinuts into the mix, it just sucks more. Hopefully, voters stay in voting mode for the run-off. Hopefully, voters will get more than the usual arguments of “I was way ahead of the pack” versus “59% of the people don’t want my opponent” and break down the issues that matter. There are differences in this one.

These are just a few of the run-offs on my radar. The run-off is scheduled for late May, so get ready for those picnic grade paper plate placemats (full page glossy direct mail pieces) to start arriving. A few text messages, too. And lots of calls.

#StaceSlate: The 2020 Dem Primary Picks

Credit: Tacho Medellin, DC Media

It’s that time again:  Time to release the #StaceSlate  It’s a long ballot, so we must prepare accordingly to vote the entire ballot. It’ll be good practice for November when the “straight ticket” option is no longer available. Google my picks and learn about them. Find your sample ballot here if you want to find out who all the candidates are on your ballot. (These are the ones on MY ballot!) And, there’s also Erik Manning’s spreadsheet that is quite informative regarding candidates.

Here’s the #StaceSlate!

President – Bernie Sanders

US Senate – Royce West

US House District 9 – Al Green

Texas RR Commissioner – Roberto Alonzo

Chief Justice, Supreme Court – Jerry Zimmerer

Justice, Supreme Court, Pl 6 – Kathy Cheng

Justice, Supreme Court, Pl 7 – Staci Williams

Justice, Supreme Court, Pl 8 – Gisela Triana

Judge, Court of Criminal Appreal, Pl 3 – NO ENDORSEMENT

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Pl 4 – NO ENDORSEMENT

SBOE, District 6 – Michelle Palmer

State Senate, Dist 13 – Borris Miles

Justice 1st Court of Appeals #3 – Veronica Rivas Molloy

Justice 1st Court of Appeals #5 – Amparo Monique Guerra

Chief Justice, 14th Court of Appeals – Jim Evans

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals – Cheri Thomas

Judge, 80th District Court – Larry Weiman

Judge, 164th District Court – NO ENDORSEMENT

Judge, 165th District Court – Ursula Hall

Judge, 176th District Court- Nikita Harmon

Judge 179th District Court – Ana Martinez

Judge, 334th District Court – Steven Kirkland

Judge, 337th District Court – David Vuong

Judge, 339th District Court- Te’iva Bell

Judge, 351st District Court – Natalia Cornelio

Judge, 507th District Court – Julia Maldonado

Judge, County Court at Law #4 – Leslie Briones

Harris County Attorney – Christian Menefee

Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector – Ann Harris Bennett

Harris County District Attorney – Audia Jones

Sheriff – Ed Gonzalez

County School Trustee, Pos 5 – Paul Ovalle

County School Trustee, Pos 7 – NO ENDORSEMENT

Harris County Commissioner Pct 3 – Diana Martinez Alexander

Harris Constable, Pct 5 – Mark Alan Harrison

Harris County JP Place 5-1- Israel Garcia

 

The Race for County Commish Pct 3 – A Forum

I attended a candidate forum featuring four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Harris County Pct 3 Commissioner. The candidates were Diana Martinez Alexander, Morris Overstreet, Michael Moore, and Kristi Thibaut. The moderator was Charles Kuffner (of Off The Kuff fame) who did an outstanding job of asking some good questions regarding budget priorities, bail reform, flood control and mitigation, city-county cooperation, transportation, climate change, among other topics.

To be honest, all of the candidates offered good answers, whether it was Alexander on Pre-K, Moore on environmental regulation, Thibaut on flood mitigation, or Morris on voting rights. [Watch the video!] There wasn’t much, if any, disagreement.  One thing they all agreed on though, as well as those in attendance, was that all of the good ideas that any of these folks have will only work if Democrats flip the Texas House, thus forcing some bipartisan work from the Texas Senate to do something about revenue caps and the boot that the State of Texas currently has on local government’s necks. Even so, it will be a battle that will require more than some semblance of bipartisanship that republicans refuse to practice. And an even stronger Democratic majority on the commissioner’s court helps.

That said, I usually seek out other qualities from candidates when faced with similarly good answers. For example, when Kuffner asked the question about legislative priorities, it was Diana Martinez Alexander who brought up fighting Greg Abbott’s SB4, the racial profiling and anti-immigrant law that turns local law enforcement into border cops and wastes vital resources. Or, when felony bail reform was brought up, it was the jurist, Morris Overstreet, who provided some clarity to the issue, rather than a cautiously moderate approach to even discussing it.

Of course, political traditions dictate that those that raise the most money and run traditional campaigns have the best chance at beating a republican. But it also takes some good ol’ retail politics to gain this voter’s’ attention, so, kudos to grassroots candidate Diana Martinez Alexander for working the room and speaking to folks she hadn’t met before (me and my sister). Sure, precinct 3 may be too large in which to run that kind of campaign, but last night’s intimate setting filled with activists who GOTV was a good shot at shaking hands and asking for the vote. (And that goes for the other candidates (and office holders) in the room! Stop talking to people you already know!)

As a Chicano voter, I also naturally look for commonalities–with whom do I identify? When Overstreet mentioned he was from West Texas with siblings who had all earned higher education degrees despite their parents’ lack of that kind of opportunity, it spoke to me. Martinez Alexander’s mention that her mother still works cleaning houses was a stark reminder that Harris County’s diversity is both ethnic and economic, thus requiring someone with that kind of life experience who will fight for all of the people without a second thought. It’s not always about polish.

Those that prefer political money and political polish have a couple of candidates, for sure. It’s just not what I’m looking for in this primary election season. That stuff doesn’t impress me if you’re not walking up to a voter and asking for their vote. That said, I’ll be a “D” vote in this race in November, but I’m leaning toward the candidate that best represents me, my issues, and my interests. At least that’s my take after this one forum.

Thanks to the Southwest Democrats (and others) who hosted this event.

Photo:  Erik Manning (Southwest Democrats)