Category Archives: Elections

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.”

Advertisements

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.

 

Julian Castro Begins 2020 Campaign From SAs West Side

Thousands of supporters were welcomed by live mariachi music and were sent off with Selena’s music over the loudspeakers at a powerful kick-off for the  presidential campaign of Texas son and former Obama HUD Secretary Julian Castro.

In making his announcement, Castro listed a progressive platform which included Medicare for All, Green New Deal, fixing the immigration system (no wall and yes to family reunification), jobs creation, supporting early education and workforce education, justice/bail reform, and equality and equity. Offering the exact opposite of Trump and the Republicans, Castro set a high bar for the rest of the coming field of Democrats.

As a Texas Mexican, along with many fellow Texas Mexicans, I can say we’ve been waiting a long time for a Chicano candidate with South Texas roots. Given his appointment to the Obama administration and his trajectory in politics, I didn’t know what to expect from his announcement, but I’m glad that, thus far, he seems to be running on his own platform and not one created for him by some moderate think tank.

That said, there is no doubt he will have naysayers; however, those saying he’s too young/too inexperienced have now switched gears to finger pointing on one  particular thing Castro was in charge of while he was running President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development–dismissing a housing lawsuit against the City of Dallas. One must ask these particular naysayers, though:  Where does the buck stop in the Obama administration?

One other issue that will get some attention is where Castro lands on the issue of the PROMESA bill, which created a US-appointed and unelected oversight board for Puerto Rico, a process to restructure debt (bankruptcy) in Puerto Rico, and placed austerity measures on Puerto Rico, thus, cutting its public service budget. With the US in charge of this, public services could easily be privatized, while its budget would be reallocated to pay debt. After a destructive hurricane, the future of Puerto Rico is at stake, and those more interested in protecting creditors and creating wealth for millionaires, rather than protecting and serving the people, could only make things worse.

NOTE:  Lots of Democrats were on their way to Puerto Rico to discuss the latest on this, while also catching a show by PROMESA supporter, Lin-Manuel Miranda. I believe Julian Castro is included on the guest list and his brother, Congressman Joaquin Castro voted for PROMESA, despite opposition from the people of Puerto Rico and his colleague Congressman Luis Gutierrez (Puerto Rican).

Offering up such a progressive campaign platform, Castro shouldn’t be promising great things for America, while sticking a fork in Puerto Rico’s future. I hope that Castro (both of them) will come to their senses on Puerto Rico and call for reform of PROMESA.

Otherwise, Julian has the best platform I’ve seen from a candidate at this level in a long time. His speech delivery and the energy he received in return is something I hadn’t seen in a long time. I’ve been a fan of the Castros and I identify with their struggle, as do many Chicanos. For all candidates, though, if you run on struggle, it still must match up with policies.

As attacks on Julian Castro will escalate, we will be hearing more about other 2020 prospects. Whether it’s Kamala Harris’ jailing of poor moms because of their kid’s truancy; Klobuchar’s selling out on border wall; Joe Biden being, well,  Joe Biden; and the list will go on, Democrats will get to choose among candidates who have some bad marks. I just want to say ahead of time that criticism should not be thrown only at Julian Castro.

Thus far, given the names announced and talked about, and consideration of bad/good points of these prospects, Julian Castro remains at the top of my list. For Castro, wins in Nevada, California, and Texas would be huge, and my friends in those states are already excited about him.

Still, 2019 is just as important and we must vote in local elections, too.

 

Same Characters, Same Border Fear-Mongering

The Lite Gov of Texas told El Cheeto he’d build the wall for him and the orange one ran with it.

“One of the things that Dan Patrick suggested, which I thought was very interesting, was: Give the state of Texas a relatively small amount of money — they’ll build a wall themselves, cause they wanna build it,” Trump said.

Talk about boondoggles.

Although, I still think I can do it cheaper than you. … You do things very well in Texas, and I like that idea, so we’ll take a look.”

If this doesn’t sound like a competition for kickbacks on kickbacks, I don’t know what else it could be. Of course, there’s also the racist nature of Trump and Patrick who salivate at the thought of banning brown people from the USA.

Patrick’s idea is a 200 mile wall from Brownsville to Falcon Lake–basically, South Texas. And Texas will still spend another billion dollars on the current boondoggle of a “border surge” that has destabilized communities and militarized the border.

Needless to say, the Texas legislative session just got a little more interesting.

Here in Houston, Chief Art Acevedo joined the debate by stating that the border issue is overblown and that more money is needed for law enforcement on the streets of Houston. A recent murder of a child by alleged gang members has brought the gang issue back into the light.

ABC13 reported on this with the cops union boss blaming the border and immigrants for Houston crime, thus supporting Trump’s policies. This is nothing new as the cops union has supported racist policies like SB4, 287g and Secure Communities in the past.

This is why I’ve always told “progressive” politicians: Stay away from bigoted policies and those who support them! You’ll never out-bigot the bigots.

I’m expecting border issues to become localized as the cops union gets involved and somehow it all makes it into the mayoral debates of 2019. When Houston is experiencing a host of issues, lack of money, and lack of political will, blaming others for problems is to be expected.

Stay tuned, folks.

Chicano Political Prisoner Ramsey Muñiz Released

Although I had heard through activist friends that Ramsey Muñiz had been released in mid-December, the AP finally reported his release from federal prison a month later.

Muñiz, a policy-saavy, charismatic, well-spoken, Baylor-educated lawyer, was La Raza Unida Party’s 1972 gubernatorial candidate. It was those qualities he effectively utilized to put a scare into the Texas Democratic Party by earning over 210,000 votes in a three-way race which almost ended the career of Dolph Briscoe and Democratic power in Texas. The usual historians write it off as Muñiz only garnering 6% of the vote, but it was 210,000 Chicanos who united in calling out the Democratic Party for their lack of respect of the people.

Although La Raza Unida had achieved much in various South Texas counties and even fielded candidates in Houston and Harris County, it was this venture into Texas politics that helped earn it a special place in Texas political history. LRU even fielded a Chicana for Lt. Governor. And it also caused a change in the way Democrats treated Chicanos in Texas–some might say, at least on the surface.

During the time, as Chicano scholar Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez found out through FOIA requests, the FBI targeted various Chicano activists through surveillance and other methods. Chicano political activity was constantly under attack and effectiveness was always challenged because those in power would never allow for shared political power with Chicanos. Gutierrez has a new book coming out in March in which he details the surveillance of the Democrats’ favorite brown person, Cesar Chavez.

It is said that Muñiz was among those targeted when in 1976 he was charged federally with attempting to smuggle marijuana into the US from Mexico. After pleading guilty to one count and being sentenced for 5 years, La Raza Unida Party lost popularity and died a slow death, while Democrats picked up what was left of Chicano activists who were salvageable for political purposes. Later, he’d be charged two more times, thus given a mandatory life sentence in federal prison.

Many believed Muñiz to be a political prisoner imprisoned on false charges, forced to plead out in order to save himself from long-term sentences on the first two charges.

A mandatory life sentence from a 1994 charge, though, is what caused him to reside at Leavenworth the last 24 years. Yes, a military prison for what are small-time charges compared to cartels and major drug dealers. Like other prisoners deemed to be imprisoned for political reasons, he requested early release from Presidents, including Obama, only to be denied. Because of failing health and age, he was finally released on December 10, 2018.

There is little doubt that the burgeoning activism in the Chicano community of the time was demoralized by those in power. That voting and activism in the community was at an all-time high during the time only to be cut off at the knees perhaps shows why Chicano voting patterns have taken decades to improve. No doubt, there is a lack of trust of anyone in power and with good reason. We are seeing similar responses to recently elected Latinos with strong opinions–just a thought.

Anyway, I’m glad that Mr. Muñiz is home with his wife, Irma, whom I met in 2003 at a conference I helped coordinate at Texas State University. She and a close circle of friends never gave up on achieving his release. And he’ll always be considered one of my influences as far as political communication is concerned.

The Border Boondoggle Must End

I skipped Stormy doing the laundry to watch El Cheeto do his usual best to divide and conquer an already divided nation–all for a wall.

What most Americans don’t realize is the “humanitarian” crisis he kept mentioning has nothing to do with mothers and children escaping violence and poverty in Central America. He seems to care more about the sensibilities of his racist base and anyone else who feels victimized by the mere sight of brown people.

Some were predicting lie after lie by Trump, and I haven’t had time to go over the numbers he spouted, nor do I want to. Whether one fact-checks Trump or not, he said it before a national audience and no corrective measure will cause a sudden change of heart in the bigots who support him. Standing against everything he is about is about the only thing that will work, in my opinion.

The Democratic response left much to be desired. Standing against the wall is fine and dandy, but funneling more money into the border boondoggle is not a solution when we throw money at one part of system (enforcement gadgets) but ignore the rest of the system (immigration). Ultimately, all Pelosi and Schumer presented was just another “tough talk” tactic to appease anti-immigrant hardliners to re-open the government and some pro-migrant platitudes from eight years ago. We’ll see how this works out.

Democrats are missing out on a real opportunity to change the conversation toward one that discusses fixing the system. Instead, Democrats want to keep funding a broken system in which human rights are violated on a daily basis; captured children have died; which continues funding baby jail contractors; and keeps the border militarized, in exchange for Trump backing down on a wall. Appeasing evil doesn’t sound workable to me, and Trump is definitely evil.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sure as hell has the right idea.

Raj Salhotra Announces Bid for Houston City Council At-Large 1

During the election and holiday season, I saw this young leader, Raj Salhotra, working rooms and talking to voters and activists about his intention to run for Houston City Council At-Large 1. To say he’s impressive is an understatement. On Monday, he made his announcement through social media:

Today I am excited to announce my candidacy for Houston City Council At-Large Position 1. Houston is an incredible city because of its diversity, its can-do spirit, and its opportunity. I love Houston because it made my immigrant family’s American Dream possible. However, as a teacher, I saw students and their parents who shared my family’s aspirations yet were trapped in poverty because of policy failures. I am running for Houston City Council to build One Houston where every community, family, and child— regardless of zip code—can reach their dreams. I cannot do this alone, so I am asking for your help to join me in building this movement. There are three ways you can help:

1. If you are interested in knocking on doors, phone banking, hosting events, or attending meetings, please visit www.rajforhouston.com/volunteer to join us.

2. If you can contribute financially, please visit www.rajforhouston.com/contribute. Every dollar counts, and I very much appreciate all of your support.

3. Please follow our campaign on Facebook by liking our page Raj For Houston. We will post updates there and would love to hear from you about your vision for Houston.

Thank you for your support, and I know that together we can build a Houston that ensures all of us can reach our dreams.

Visit his website and social media to keep up with Raj Salhotra. He’ll be meeting you soon, for sure.