Category Archives: Elections

The 2019 #StaceSlate

¡Feliz Fiestas Patrias y Viva La Raza!

The 2019 City of Houston elections are upon us and some of you may be thinking about whose name to click when you show up to your polling location in November. Well, I’ve made my choices and urge you to vote for these individuals. I’ll write out explanations about why soon, but I think I’ve proven I can be trusted with my electoral choices.

Note:  The first list are those who will appear on my own ballot. The others are candidates I wish I could vote for, but I do not reside in their districts. I’ll pick among the state constitutional measures and Alief ISD trustee candidates soon.

MAYOR – SYLVESTER TURNER

CITY CONTROLLER – CHRIS BROWN

AT-LARGE 1 – RAJ SALHOTRA

AT-LARGE 2 -DAVID ROBINSON

AT-LARGE 3 – JANAEYA CARMOUCHE

AT-LARGE 4 – NICK HELLYAR

AT-LARGE 5 – ASHTON P. WOODS

DISTRICT F – TIFFANY THOMAS

METRONEXT BOND – YES/FOR/SI (whatever the positive answer is)

OTHERS

DISTRICT B – TARSHA JACKSON

DISTRICT H – ISABEL LONGORIA

DISTRICT I – ROBERT GALLEGOS

DISTRICT J – SANDRA RODRIGUEZ

HCC DISTRICT I – MONICA FLORES RICHART

HISD DISTRICT III – SERGIO LIRA

TEXAS HOUSE DISTRICT 148 (Special):  PENNY MORALES SHAW

and for good measure

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES – JULIAN CASTRO (ongoing)

 

* No contributions were offered or accepted for these endorsements. No memberships were required to be purchased.

 

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The Day 2 Dems: We Need To Thin The Top Tier By 1

If anything has become obvious after two days of Democratic debate, it’s that most of the white dudes want to keep criminalization of border crossings and the candidates of color and women want to do away with it. And the pro-criminalization side has its king in Joe Biden.

Biden’s “back of the line,” “all border crossers are criminals” tirade set him apart from the rest of the crowd. He’s basically the Democrats’ Trump, saying what probably 1/3 of the Democratic Party think or is OK with a candidate saying because they just want to get rid of Trump and think anti-immigrant BS is the key to victory. Pro-Tip:  It’s not!

I can’t say I hate myself or a group of people enough to vote for this kind of Democrat.  Maybe that would change at the voting machine in November 2020, but I’ve been worn thin and will speak freely today. And Democrats refuse to learn from our past, even getting upset when some of us criticize previous Dem administrations. Nothing should be off-limits when we are picking the next leader of this country because we should strive for the best.

Performance-wise, I think Julian Castro did quite well, considering CNN only gave him less than 11 minutes to speak, while Back of the Line Biden got twice as much–most of it debating Kamala Harris.  But Julian proved that we Chicanos can do a lot with a little. Whether it was taking on Biden’s fear-based and gutless immigration pronouncements with a truly comprehensive plan or detailing his thoughts on a health care for all compromise, Julian was focused and coherent.

And while some will whine about Joe Biden being the target of some of the others, I think that’s a good thing. It showed us what he’d sound like in a debate with Trump, and if it didn’t scare you, then you are up in the clouds thinking he can beat Trump.

Cory Booker faired well against Biden after Biden’s attack on the town in which he was Mayor. (Why are white dudes attacking black cities and their leaders lately?) There are a few reasons Booker isn’t my favorite, but he’s quite the debater. Kamala Harris did well, too, on health care, despite attacks from the right in which scary numbers and confusion were thrown around by the mods.  Gabbard, of course, pointed out Harris’ flaws as attorney general of California, but it didn’t earn her points as much as it may have smudged Harris. Gillibrand has made a turnaround on immigration and sounded much more coherent on the issue and other issues than usual. Even DiBlasio and Yang weren’t awful.

Democrats have a decision:  Pick the right person that can take on Trump or settle for mediocrity.

I get lectured by former republicans and Dems who give money and support to “tolerable” republicans that we need to beat Trump with any sack of potatoes with a (D) by their name, but it’s early enough that we can thin the herd of basically bad people in our Party. For all the flaws that are pointed out, I think Castro, Warren, Sanders, and Harris are great candidates. Booker is OK, too.  But this round of debates proved that the mod(erate) squad, led by Biden, do nothing to increase participation of those constantly left behind in the conversation with their “no se puede” attitudes. If they don’t fire up an avid voter such as myself, then they won’t fire up the others we need. So, it’s not a bad thing, 6 months ahead of the first primary/caucus, to have some real conversations about the candidates–even picking them apart to see what they’re made of.

Happy candidate hunting! Go Julian!

 

 

The Winner of Tuesdays Debate…

I couldn’t help but think the same thing, Congressman!

As far as debate performance went, I thought Senator Warren did a great job, especially of defending herself from the mod(erate) squad that was relentless in attacking her and Senator Sanders’ platforms. It’s good to know that she’ll be able to handle similar attacks from the right from Joe Biden in the future.

Bernie Sanders reminded me why I was such a fan of his in 2016.

“I wrote the damn bill!”

Buttigieg, likewise, did OK. While I’m not a fan of the whole soldier thing, I agree with him that the right is going to paint Dems as socialist, open borders, private insurance hating Antifa terrorists no matter where Dems fall on the issues. So, let’s put out a platform promote it and defend it.

Beto was Beto; always trying to be the great white hope.

The rest didn’t leave an impression on me, although, Marianne Williamson said plenty of things that needed to be said on racism and Washington, DC corruption.

Regarding health care, the debate is becoming about keeping private insurance in a “universal” plan since people who can afford insurance don’t want to lose what they have. And while government jobs don’t offer the best insurance choices, some companies do offer some pretty good ones. Let’s remember that platforms are platforms. Let’s remember Obama promised comprehensive immigration reform in the first year of term one and then ignored it completely. So, let’s not get all nasty here because it also takes political capital and using it well to get things done. The key, in this case, is to increase access to the uninsured while lowering prices and ending insurance company corruption. Eyes on the prize!

On immigration, it was Warren who stayed strong on the issue of decriminalizing border crossing, while the others seemed to want to keep the “criminal” designation alive for whatever reason. The mod squad put the blame on Trump, but even Democrats have warehoused immigrant families and deported millions without due process because of this designation. So, it’s better to get rid of it. Bernie came close until he mentioned the idea of more immigration judges. Although I understand his sentiment regarding backlogs in the entire system, the comment reminded me of Hillary Clinton’s “deport the kids” attitude of 2014. And in these debates, sound bytes matter.

As much as people talk about “Russia,” Democrats need to be reminded that US meddling in Latin American elections is still a thing. And, if we want to talk about “root causes” of migration, we may need to start with this fact.

Day 2 of Who Gets Voted Off the Island is today. As always, I’m rooting for Julian Castro. He’s only two spaces away from Joe Biden, so I hope he lands some chingazos (political ones, of course) tonight.

Houston CM Amanda Edwards Enters US Senate Race

And with this announcement, I can honestly say I don’t know where I stand on this race. But I will say Edwards’ video announcement is one of the best I’ve seen in recent times, featuring imagery to capture hearts and minds. And that’s what it’s going to take, along with a lot of campaign cash, to defeat Cornyn.

Edwards joins the already announced MJ Hegar, Sema Hernandez, and Chris Bell. (Maybe there are others.) We await announcements from State Senator Royce West and Jolt CEO Christina Tzintzun Ramirez.

Texas is a huge state, so, one has to ask themselves what the path to victory is for all of these candidates. Only Hernandez (US Senate primary in 2018) and Bell (for Governor) have run statewide. Houston area candidates obviously know Houston is where it’s at in this state, especially during an active presidential primary. Dallas is no different, though.

But South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley will play a major role, as always, and must not be ignored or ceded by any of the candidates–no matter what they think their chances are based on the ethnic make-up of the region. Remember, one of them will end up taking on Cornyn and if they ignore big swaths of the state, they won’t get much attention in November 2020. So, don’t ignore South Texas!

We will be seeing more and more activity about 2020 given all of these announcements. I’ll remind you that, here in Houston, we have a 2019 City of Houston election that should be on our minds. Obviously, Edwards not running for re-election in City Council At-Large 4 changes things and we’ve seen some current candidates switch from one race to another, including Nick Hellyar from a very crowded District C and Dr. Letitia Plummer from a crowded At-Large 5. I expect more to announce as we move toward the filing deadline. As Kuff reminds us, today, there are a lot of open seats and these races are crowded.

As always, follow Eric Manning’s spreadsheet to find out who has filed campaign treasurer appointments for City, HISD and other races. It’s starting to get interesting, if not exciting.

 

City of Houston Races Continue to Shape Up and Contract

Click Here For The Latest List of Prospective City of Houston Candidates

The local race all eyes (at least those paying attention) are on is that of Houston Mayor. Mayor Sylvester Turner was already taking on a couple of self-funded millionaires before CM Dwight Boykins joined in and was backed by the firefighters. Then, after Boykins’ verbal diarrhea in which he offended, well, everybody (especially young women), former CM Sue Lovell joined in. There are others running, but that’s all I’ll say about that.

Where does this leave the race for endorsements? Well, we heard a little about the endorsement game this week, too. I’ve never liked the local endorsement game where endorsing club memberships are bought by candidates in order to pack the endorsement meeting for a said candidates. The excuse (from the consultant class, especially) continues to be, “Well, it’s the way it’s always been done.” That doesn’t mean it’s right, and it certainly doesn’t mean things cannot change for the better. There’s something very wrong when you have 300 people at one club meeting, then 15 at the next. Anyway…

Where do I stand on the Mayor’s race? Obviously, I’m just not into it this year. Although I do side with Mayor Turner in that he’s attempted to responsibly give firefighters raises that are affordable and within budget, he has left me wanting stronger responses to the local baby jails and planned ICE raids. Simply promoting “diversity” is not enough if you’re not defending children (including 17 year olds at 419 Emancipation) or fighting against migrant round-ups that instill fear in a community.  This is the issue of the day and even local candidates must speak up against the Trump administration and those benefiting from racist policies. So, Mayor (and the others), up your game!

City Council

My own District F will not have an incumbent as current CM Steve Le has decided to not seek re-election after causing much controversy. There’s also that thing about not even residing in the district, I hear; not that it’s ever stopped anyone. I’m still undecided, but Tiffany Thomas is on my radar, as is former District F CM Richard Nguyen. Still, it’s crowded and anything can happen. So, impress me.

District H, which serves the Heights and Northside has a couple of challengers for Karla Cisneros. Most recently, Isabel Longoria, a local organizer and activist, joined the race. I expect a great challenge from her.

District J out in SW Houston is also crowded. I met Sandra Rodriguez and Nelvin Adriatico the other day. Both are personable and communicate well with prospective voters. And that’s the key–talking to actual voters in a low-performing area of town. A lot of my friends are backing Rodriguez, though, and her experience on city issues puts her ahead of the pack.

Check out the list to find out about other district races.

I’ll be doing another post about the at-large races later. I am definitely supporting Raj Salhotra in At-Large 1 and Janaeya Carmouche in At-Large 3.

 

 

The May 2019 Election – Results

Santa Fe, TX

The biggest news from Saturday’s election is that a good friend and associate of mine will be joining the Santa Fe, TX City Council. Fidencio Leija, Jr. won his race for Place 4, defeating an incumbent in grand fashion.

Leija, a native of Santa Fe, returned home to start a family and an insurance business. Known for his commitment to community during his time in Houston, Leija immediately became involved in his Santa Fe community serving on various committees and associations. It was obvious that he’d be a good fit on the City Council and the voters responded quite well to his campaign.

Congrats to my friend and fellow Texas State Bobcat, Fidencio, and his family. I know he will be a voice for the betterment of the community.

Pasadena, TX

Kudos to Cody Ray Wheeler on his re-election to City Council District E for the City of Pasadena. He fended off a challenger while campaigning to continue being a voice of reason on the Council. Also, police officer Ornaldo Ybarra returned to the City Council defeating the incumbent. Unfortunately, Steve Halvorson’s challenge fell short, but he ran a great race. Sammy Casados was unopposed in his race for re-election.

Cy-Fair ISD Bond

Since I spend a lot of time in that part of the county, I must say that I’m happy the bond passed with over 70% of the vote. Cy-Fair is one of those fast-growth districts that needs the space. In other school news, Conroe ISD, another one of those fast-growth districts, voted down their bond to add much needed space. Cy-Fair was smart. Conroe, not so much.

San Antonio and Dallas

Looks like there will be run-offs for Mayor in SA and Dallas.

In SA, it’s Mayor Ron Niremberg who was forced into a run-off after falling just short of being re-elected. The race is a contentious one in which a lot of mud has been thrown at Mayor Ron.

In Dallas, it’s State Rep. Eric Johnson who will be in a run-off for the open seat with Scott Griggs. I’m rooting for Rep. Johnson.

Local elections are for positions and boards in which the most important decisions are made. Houston is headed toward November already and there will be some contentious races. Read the facts, instead of the rhetoric, before clicking “cast vote.”

An Interesting Poll of Brown Folks

NALEO and Latino Decisions have just released a poll on where Latinos stand as the presidential primary gets going. And the results are not surprising–at all.

Latinos are paying attention to the Democratic primary  process and no one candidate is the de facto Latino candidate. The top five with the highest favorables are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, and Kamala Harris. The poll also shows that Latinos feel that Dems are mostly doing a good job in speaking to Latino voters, while Trump and the Republicans are mostly hostile to Latinos. But Dems still need to work on it–a lot.

In regards to issues, it is health care, wages, immigrant rights, job creation, and stopping Trump’s agenda among the issues of which Latinos are more concerned. As always, immigrant rights may not be the top issue, but it is an issue that affects the Latino community, whether it is about the immigration and detention process or about the racism that is emboldened by Trump and Republicans. One way or another, all of the issues are intertwined.

In fact, 72% of Latinos want Obamacare to stay in effect, while 77% of Latinos also believe that migrants are not a threat and should be allowed through the asylum process. And Latinos respond negatively in high numbers to Trump.

Democrats have a real opportunity for Latino engagement and communication, as always, They just need to want to do it. Considering California and Texas are among the first states to decide on who should be the Democratic candidate, it would seem that small states like Iowa are still the “go-to” states for candidates and it is quite annoying. And it’s an easy way to escape a major portion of the list of issues Latinos deem important. You know, like immigration. The other side is certainly attacking–in rhetoric and policy.

On immigration, I’ve only heard good things from Julian Castro, who has an actual plan, and Bernie Sanders, who has a nice list of policy pronouncements. although Sanders hasn’t been artful in communicating against the Republican “open borders” attack. Frankly, this is an attack that all of the Democrats need to learn to combat. The Republicans are too good at spreading racism and hatred and this poll shows that fact, as well. Latinos are obviously tired of Republican racism.

Thanks to NALEO and Latino Decisions for putting out this poll. I do suggest that a “Latino debate” be held in California or Texas as the Florida one doesn’t excite me at all.

A Short Local Nightmare Is Over

There are plenty of opinions, legal and otherwise, regarding the accidental resignation of Judge Bill McCleod from his County Court at Law #4 post. No doubt, he has quite a fan base that he worked hard to build by literally being everywhere during his campaigns for office over the years. Ultimately, the law is the law and the County Attorney and County Commissioners made the right call–legally and politically. While the Democrats were straight-forward on the decision, the Republicans seemed to want to play political games given how they voted on the matter.

But, as Kuff reports, the appointment of the new judge, Lesley Briones, came quickly and without much discussion or consideration. While there are no questions of legality, there are political and maybe procedural questions, especially from Democratic activists.

Mostly, Democratic activists have never heard of Briones–even Commissioners who supported her appointment. The questions I got from various activists included:

  • Who is she? Well, Briones has worked with a big firm and a major local nonprofit. She taught at-risk kids in South Texas. She’s educated, obviously. And from my research, she has some South Texas roots (that’s always a plus for this transplant).
  • Has she represented clients in local courts? I have no idea, but it was pointed out to me that maybe not. Perhaps her work has been more transactional and advisory given her resume. Still, she’s trained in the law and will receive the same kind of courtroom training as all of our other judges.
  • Is she a Democrat? I don’t have access to that voter info, but it was pointed out that she does have a favorable primary voting record.

Others expect potential candidates to be party activists and wonder if she’s been to club meetings or knocked on doors in the past.

I don’t blame Dems for asking these questions. We vote and expect our votes to be heard. And Dems feel like we weren’t heard or advised on the appointment by Commissioners. Commissioners did not give voters a chance to be heard on the appointment or find out who else was considered. But, they did open up the meeting to those speaking on McCleod’s behalf. We may not have gotten to vote on the appointee, but some participation would have been nice.

But, I’m also of the opinion that we don’t elect County Commissioners to save the political hides of people who mess up. We’ve got real issues that must be addressed:  Recent environmental disasters, voting rights, criminal justice reform, health care, transportation and roads, etc. And this is exactly what we elected them to do. It was an error of ambition that put the County Commissioners in a position of wasting valuable time on this, instead of doing the work for which they were elected. That they wanted to get beyond this situation and get back to work, well, I don’t blame them.

In this case, we trust those we elected to make the right decisions. If you don’t like the decision, well, email them, message them, or show up at a meeting and tell them. At this point, I’d rather just move forward.

For Briones, if she decides to run for the position in the 2020 special election, then she’ll probably need to get through a primary before getting to the general election. At that point, she’ll have more experience, and, hopefully, she’ll have made herself known to activists. But if we’re the Democrats I know we are, then I’d expect it to be a free-for-all because there aren’t many open judicial seats coming up in 2020 and the political bug is obviously nipping at potential candidates.

 

Are We All Beto’d Out?

Lots of Texans aren’t happy about Beto running for Prez. They wanted him to run for US Senate against Cornyn. Other Texans are just Beto’d out. I consider myself part of the latter group and much of it has to do with his run-up to his grand decision–the teasing, the one-man drives to Primary country, the videos. Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back–the “born to be in it” interview in Vanity Fair.

Let’s be fair, those of us who supported him in 2018 knew him to be a privileged kid from El Paso. He just happened to side with us on most issues. The article, though, really paints the picture of privilege–his annoyance with his father, yet always having his support to go to private school and Columbia University, the “tech” start-ups, the return to El Paso to the family wealth, and finally, his marriage into even more wealth. Sure, there was sadness along the way with his dad’s untimely death, but he led a charmed life on his way to his political life. And if one reads the long article, one sees the real Beto that some of us didn’t want to hear about, though, we always knew.

His father tried directing him to the New Mexico Military Institute, but O’Rourke instead applied to a prep school in Virginia called Woodberry Forest, on advice from his grandfather through marriage, Fred Korth, a former secretary of the navy in the Kennedy administration.

Of course, there’s also the stuff we liked about him.

Not to begrudge someone with added opportunities on top of what already comes with being a white male, but it’s been a bad week for those of privilege. Aunt Becky and friends are in trouble for seeking added opportunities for their already over-privileged brats. The privileged in the halls of Congress want to deeply cut the social safety net that helped families like mine during tough times. The privileged have just been pissing many of us off. And “born to be in it” Beto didn’t give some of us the warm and fuzzies. And, of course, if one delves into his voting record in Congress, well, the whole “working with Republicans” narrative is already a centerpiece of his launch. And quite annoying.

All of this said, it may just be this newer narrative that gives him a chance in the Democratic Primary against 15 (or more) opponents in multiple states beyond Texas. His campaign of positivity versus being just “anti-Trump,” of offering solutions, rather than what was offered in 2016, of being supportive of the ideas of Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez but perhaps offering a bit of moderation. It’s the kind of stuff that could unite people. Or, could make him a vice-presidential candidate for a moderate candidate with a dismal record (take your pick from the rest of the list).

At this point, I’m still with Bernie Sanders because he is right on the issues–a lot more than what the others are offering. And at this point, it’s all about the issues for me.  I want stances on issues that will keep Democrats in check. Because if the Democratic Party is strategizing based on what moderates and Republicans are saying and thinking, then a whole lot of people will stay home, yet again, because they are being excluded, yet again. If Democrats don’t learn anything from the 2016 strategy, then we’re in for another disaster.

Anyway, happy candidate-seeking to all!

2019 Houston Mayor, Council Races Shaping Up

Big thanks to Erik Manning of the Sharpstown Dems for keeping a list of incumbents and candidates up-to-date as many of us start thinking about the local election to be held in November.

The Mayoral race will be cause for a lot of ad buys and excitement on the ground–most of the money will be in this race. The open seat in District B has a growing list of prospects. The open seat being vacated by term-limited Ellen Cohen in District C will also be cause for a lot of activity and money flying around. District F’s right-winger Steve Le will hopefully get a good challenge by at least one of the candidates in what is usually a low turnout race–I really need a new council member. District J, some call it the newest Latino council district (out of 3 only 1 is brown), has a chance to actually a elect a brown person, although, the voting population is diverse and any candidate will be required to play well with all of the communities.

There are a couple of at-large races that are getting exciting, too. I’ve made my choice in At-Large 1 hoping that Raj Salhotra can work past a couple of perennial candidates and anyone else who signs up to unseat Mike Knox. There are several candidates who will try to unseat Kubosh in At-Large 3, thus far. And it seems like the entire city is running for At-Large 5, which is finally being vacated by term-limited Jack Christie (he seems to have been there forever!). Surely, there will be more signing up for all of the races before the deadline. I have no favorites in the latter two races, though. I don’t care how much money one is raising, it is sincerity, ideas, and a little bit of retail politics which earns my support early. If  one is good, the money will come. So, I’ll be keeping an eye out.

This is just an early look and a reminder that we have a very important election in November. We need to do a lot better than low double-digit turnout. And we need to be smart about our choices–getting through the bullshit that will surely be well-financed by special interests and wealthy candidates. Although the activity of people signing up seems exciting, it’s the work of the candidates that will make it exciting (and for incumbents, their actions).

I’ll have more on the individual races in the future. For now, enjoy finding out more about the candidates! Click here to see the list of candidates.