Category Archives: Local Politica

#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)

Isabel Longoria Falls Short After Complete Count

As was reported on Run-Off election night, District H was too close to call as provisional and mail ballots needed to be counted. Karla Cisneros led Isabel Longoria by 12 votes. By the end of the week, it looks like incumbent Council Member Karla Cisneros was re-elected by 16 votes.

The outcome of the runoff had remained in some doubt after the Dec. 14 election, when unofficial results showed Cisneros leading Longoria by 12 votes: 5,283 to 5,271. After the addition of 40 provisional and mail ballots, however, Cisneros’ lead widened to 16.

Longoria announced it on Friday after pushing the County Clerk to ensure a complete and timely count by releasing the names of individuals who needed to cure their provisional ballots.

As a local expert with experience on the ballot board told me, when a race is this close, provisional and mail ballots do not move the needle much in either direction. Usually, the ballots left to be counted end up being split between the two candidates.

Bottom line:  Your vote matters. I mentioned on Facebook on election night that either candidate, or either of us reading this, probably know 20 people who did not vote last Saturday. And that’s just sad, as much as we remind people in various ways to go vote.

Congrats to Council Member Cisneros. And congrats to Isabel Longoria. Let’s hope those that sent a message to the incumbent with their vote experience some change from it.

In District B, a trial date has been set to decide whether a candidate with completed prison sentence should be eligible to run and serve in office. The third-place candidate sued to remove and replace that candidate. Because of this delay and trial, and because of election schedules, it could be that the District B election will not be held until May 2nd. The people spoke in November, yet, Democracy is still delayed.

 

It Wouldn’t Be A Dem Primary Without A Filing Controversy

If you haven’t heard, an incumbent Democratic Criminal District Judge incorrectly filed for re-election and had his candidacy rejected by the Harris County Democratic Party, as reported by Miya Shay at ABC13. Judge George Powell of the 351st District Court filed for re-election as the deadline neared on December 9 and paid the wrong filing fee. Once his paperwork was checked, and the check was short, he was rejected.

Any candidate (and especially incumbent) should know to read the rules for filing for office. You learn this in a Candidate 101 class given by any friendly consultant or blogger. Or, at least on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.

The rules are simple. Those filing for Criminal District Judge should file with the County Chair. The candidate has the option of collecting 750 signatures in lieu of the filing fee, or collecting 250 signatures and paying a $2500 filing fee (in large counties, including Harris) as is stated in Sections 172.024(10), (12), of the Texas Election Code.

Powell is stating that he was told it was $1500 by someone at the Party. But this isn’t his first rodeo and the rules have not changed. Also, the Harris County Democratic Party isn’t a grocery store with a checkout counter. They collect the paperwork and the decision is made by the County Chair. And, finally, the SOS Candidate Handbook states all of this stuff quite specifically.

[There’s a reason I tell candidates to file early, and not at the last minute. Just in case.]

There’s no telling what will be decided. A temporary restraining order was granted by a judge and a hearing will be held in early January. My experience in this (having worked on a campaign which challenged sloppy signatures, yet still approved by the County Chair at the time), is that judges aren’t too keen on even deciding these cases, or deciding against a party’s decision. But we have a whole different crop of judges, now. So, ay veremos.

The bigger question is:  Can a judge who interprets the law be taken seriously when he doesn’t read the laws pertaining to his own candidacy?

Anyway, thankfully, a well-qualified attorney had filed to challenge the incumbent. Natalia Cornelio did follow the rules and made it on to the ballot and is currently the only candidate running for the 351st. She champions fairness, civil rights, and criminal justice reform. We need more of that in our courts.

Houston Re-Elects Mayor Turner

Mayor Sylvester Turner was re-elected by a landslide against a self-funded, access-buying, divisive, homophobic millionaire lawyer. With 57% of the vote and an over 25,000 vote margin, Mayor Turner earned another 4 years despite millions spent against him, bad news reporting on made-up controversies, and divisiveness from the local right-wing. Congrats to Mayor Turner and his team who seemed to run on the old adage, “steady wins the race.”

In my own District F, Tiffany Thomas was headed toward her own landslide win with 56% of the vote. She worked the district hard and earned this victory. I know she will hit the ground running.

In District H, incumbent Karla Cisneros was holding on for dear life to a 12-vote lead against organizer Isabel Longoria, who ran a strong, grassroots campaign. Longoria states she will wait for all votes to be counted before any other decisions are made. In District D, Carolyn Evans-Shabazz won handily, as did Abbie Kamin in District C. And in District J, Sandra Rodriguez came up short, unfortunately.

In the At-Large races, Raj Salhotra and Janaeya Carmouche ran great races; unfortunately, the right-wing incumbents won handily. I think we need to find out why right-wing zealots win in such a blue city. Is it color? Money? All of the above? Needless to say, young leaders like Raj, Janaeya, Isabel, and Sandra should stay in the game. They will be needed in the near future.

Thankfully, David Robinson was re-elected; and, Letitia Plummer and Sallie Alcorn will be joining him after their own strong victories against right-wing candidates. Mayor Turner will have a comfortable majority with which to enact policies and programs needed in our city.

In HCC District 1, Monica Flores-Richart cruised to victory against another right-wing zealot whom I think got too many votes inside a blue city. What’s up with that? Anyway, the people will be well-served by Trustee-to-be Flores-Richart.

Of course, District B is still up in the air. Some say it won’t be decided until May. Democracy delayed is not a good thing. Let the people vote, already!

The big losers in all of this were the firefighters union. But there is an now an opportunity for agreement on reasonable raises. And let’s remember that HR decisions should not be decided by voters. We elect our Mayor and Council to make those decisions and elections (and phones) are available to deliver a message to our elected officials regarding what policies to support.

One group that took a hit was Latinos. At this point, it seems Robert Gallegos in District I will represent all things “brown” as he is the only one who stands up and leads on Latino issues. I just wanted to point that out.

I agree with Kuff in saying that I’m glad most of this is over. I still worry that District B has become disenfranchised because of trivial BS rules that should no longer exist in this day and age. [The courts should not delay this decision any longer and the politicians should not pass this around.]

Kuff has his take.

KHOU Poll Has Mayor Turner Leading. Vote Anyway!

KHOU, et al, released the results of what is probably the final public poll of the Houston Mayoral race and Mayor Sylvester Turner leads with 56%, with 6% undecided and another 4% refusing to say for whom they would vote. The millionaire, access-buying, Trumpista has the rest (34%).

While Mayor Turner has over 90% support from Democrats, he has made some significant inroads with other groups, such as Bill King voters (37%), and even Republicans (20%). Independent voters are split in the 40s, which isn’t surprising. Turner is also polling strong with young and seasoned voters alike.

The poll is of likely voters who voted in the first round (234 out of 516 responded). The live interviews were conducted with cell phone and landline voters.

So, we can feel good while we down our coffee this morning, but we must still vote on Saturday, 12/14 to ensure Mayor Sylvester Turner keeps his seat. Polls are just a snapshot of any given day and the only poll that matters is on Saturday.

Voters may vote at any polling location (find one here www.HarrisVotes.org), 7am to 7pm. According to Diane Trautman – County Clerk, over 115,000 Houstonians voted early already, which is more than in the first round. So, let’s close the deal on Saturday. Get out and vote the #StaceSlate: 

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Raj Salhotra – At Large 1

David Robinson – At Large 2

Janaeya Carmouche – At Large 3

Letitia Plummer – At Large 4

Sallie Alcorn – At Large 5

Tiffany Thomas – District F

Others

Isabel Longoria – District H

Sandra Rodriguez – District J

Carolyn Evans-Shabazz – District D

Abbie Kamin – District C

Monica Flores-Richart – HCC District 1

We Have A 2020 Dem Primary!

Well, there were few surprises at the end of the final filing day, but we do have some contested races all the way down the ballot. Here’s my take on some of the local races on my ballot.

US Senate. There are a lot of Dems in the running, but I will say that I am currently interested in Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez and State Senator Royce West. West has been going around the state, while Ramirez has earned the support of Beto O’Rourke’s staffers. The big question of voters will be:  Who can beat Cornyn?

Texas Railroad Commish. I’m glad to see my friend and former State Rep. Roberto Alonzo (of Dallas by way of Crystal City) in the running.

State Rep. Gene Wu (137th) seems to have been virtually re-elected. No challengers in May or November as of my last look at the SOS site.

State Senate District 13. My State Senator Borris Miles has a couple of challengers. I’m sure we’ll get to keep him at the end of the Primary.

Commish Pct 3. The biggest (non-)surprise was that Pct. 1 Constable Alan Rosen did not sign up to run for this race and decided to run for another term. I was hoping he would jump in since I thought he’d have the fundraising and campaigning abilities to win in November. We’re left with a list of relatively unknown (or who haven’t been around for a while) persons to duke it out in the primary. Stay tuned. I know I’ll be since I really don’t know for whom to vote. The Republicans will have their own battle which will hopefully be fun to watch (who outrepublicans the other).

Tax Assessor-Collector. Our friendly and awesome incumbent Ann Bennett ended up with a couple of challengers. Ann Bennett has done a great job with voter registration, increasing the number of trainings in multiple languages and the overall promotion of the task, while vastly improving customer service levels around the county. No doubt, we need this incumbent on the ballot to beat the well-known GOP candidate in November.

Other Positions.

As expected, County Court at Law #4 appointee, Judge Lesley Briones, who managed to not accidentally resign during her more than three months in office, got a challenge from the guy who accidentally resigned after less than 3 months in office.

The JP Pct 5-1 race will be interesting, since I live in it. Both Roel Garcia and Israel Garcia worked the signature-collection hard and I ran in to them several times. The other two candidates, I’ve never seen.

Constable Pct 5. I’m glad to see Dem interest in running for this post. There are three candidates running in this one–none that I’ve met. So, I look forward to learning more about them.

One thing I have always mentioned is that when the Democrats took over the County, contested primaries would become a thing, and it is happening in this one. The hardest working District Judge in District 80, Larry Weiman, is now challenged. Alexandra Smoots-Thomas (164th) is challenged by Cheryl Elliot-Thornton, who has run a couple of times for other courts. My friend Ursula Hall (165th) has a couple of challengers. Nikita Harmon (176th) and Robert Johnson (177th), Randy Roll (179th), Daryl Moore (333rd), Steven Kirkland (334th), and Julia Maldonado (507th) have opponents, most who I’ve never even heard of. I look forward to seeing the reasons they are challenging some of these incumbents and hopefully, it’s more than just ego (or some objection they lost in their courtroom).

Of note, should be the Democratic judges that were left unchallenged by Republicans. If the GOP didn’t fill their ballot, well, it shows their self-confidence has been weakened. Let’s hit them hard in November!

Texas House District 85. This district represents a big chunk of Fort Bend and all of Wharton and Jackson counties. A Democrat from Fort Bend came within 7 points of the incumbent in 2018. This time around, Louise (Wharton County) native Joey Cardenas, III, a teacher for over 25 years in Wharton and Jackson counties, will take on the challenge. Beyond his years of creating the next generations’ leaders, Cardenas has been a statewide leader on issues like public education and redistricting, walking the halls of the Texas Capitol advocating for students, teachers, and voters. Plus, I’ve known him for 27+ years since our days at SWT (TXST).

We will have more on the Primary as the days go by. March is just a few of months away. For now, vote in the City of Houston election! Today (12/10) is the last day of early voting. Saturday is run-off election day. Vote anywhere in Harris County! And Vote the StaceSlate of Turner-Raj-Robinson-Carmouche-Plummer-Alcorn!

Kuff has more.

 

 

Executive “Interns” Aren’t Coffee Go-Fers

I swear, right-wingers and second-rate reporters run on stupid to gain votes and ratings.

Mayor Sylvester Turner’s opponents, which apparently includes local media, are trying to make something out of nothing when it comes to the “$95K intern” that a local station discovered in plain sight (it’s public record). The Mayor’s opponents play on ignorance–all of the time.

It’s obvious the local station is creating something out of nothing since they seem to concentrate on the attempted “gotcha!” BS of reporter Mario Diaz who pushed a mic in the Mayor’s face while he was walking out of a police cadet swearing-in ceremony in attempt to surprise the Mayor. It was pretty disrespectful. Even the best reporters wait for a press conference or gaggle when they question the President on his law-breaking and impeachable offenses. In this case, it was theater–and it wasn’t even good theater. And the Mayor’s political opponents are the worst actors.

As far as the intern is concerned, I have no problem with city government having an executive training program, which is what this should have been called by the local news, and what it is. “Intern” sounds to most like a coffee go-fer at KPRC. And perhaps that’s what comes to mind to most voters when someone says “intern.” Maybe folks should think better of interns.

This guy is not your run-of-the-mill office go-fer. The position was created to start a management training program. It’s no different than corporations with similar programs, like Enterprise. Or, even our own state universities who seek out talent within the academic ranks to give them experience in the administration side of things–I think they call them “assistant to the president,” or something to that effect. Why shouldn’t governments do the same as corporations? Don’t we want better government?

The “intern” in question has three degrees–two of them from my alma mater (Texas State). It’s not like he’s not qualified for the job or even the salary; although, some lawyer who KPRC brought around says he’s “too qualified” to be a coffee go-fer. Yeah, he is. And he isn’t a coffee go-fer. He’s training to become a government executive. One needs experience to run things, no?

This story does point out a need for our city governments:  A management training program in all executive departments so we can keep and grow talent in city management and not lose them to the private sector so quickly. Oh, and maybe interns should be paid, whether they bring coffee or help run things.

As far as playing “Gotcha!”, it would seem local reporters need to step up their game. At the very least, improve the theatrics.

 

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.

 

Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez Enters Senate Race

Have you ever had a bunch of candidates to choose from and still can’t make a decision? Yeah, me too.

But Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez has entered the race for the Senate to rid us of  John Cornyn, so, perhaps the choice is easier today.

Ramirez is an activist and organizer who founded the Workers Defense Project and voter engagement group, Jolt Texas. Many of us have watched her interviews on MSNBC speaking on behalf of the pro-migrant cause during these painful days of mourning since the El Paso shooting and since Trump’s attacks on the Latino community. Obviously, she’s running as a progressive on all the issues Democrats love.

I’m running because I want to ensure that every Texan has high-quality healthcare, to build an economy that creates millions of good jobs and positions our state as the leader in our global transition towards a green future, to protect the rights of immigrant families and communities of color, and to ensure that every single Texan that wants to go to college can afford it and graduate debt free.

Given her positions on these issues, I do not expect her to change her views mid-General to appease the unreachable and unattainable, which happens in most Texas campaigns. So, I expect her to run a strong, grassroots campaign funded by working people who seek real change in Washington, DC.

I’m running because I have the most beautiful two year old son in the world, Santiago, and when I imagine the world he’s going to inherit, and the one I leave behind for him, I want him to be proud of what I stood up for. What we stood up for together. I want him to know that in a moment where 1 in 6 Texans didn’t have access to healthcare and millions were struggling just to make ends meet, when communities were being pitted against one another on the basis of race, and our world was at the brink of an imminent climate catastrophe, we came together and worked as hard as we could to make his life and other children’s lives like him better.

What’s the path to victory? Given her message, it’s through all communities. And that will take visibility across Texas. From the Trib:

Tzintzún Ramirez welcomed a competitive nominating contest as healthy for Democrats, saying the candidates in the Senate race are “all essentially at the same starting place,” unknown to most voters statewide and thus forced to run on the merits of their platforms. Asked how she plans to distinguish herself, she pointed to her forthrightness on the issues and her record of mobilizing the kind of voters often overlooked by politicians.

“I know how to speak to the diversity of this state,” Tzintzún Ramirez said.

This kind of video helps.

The Trib has more.