Tag Archives: diane trautman

Christopher Hollins Named Interim County Clerk

Late last night, I got the message that the Harris County Commissioner’s Court appointed local lawyer and Texas Democratic Party Finance Chair Christopher Hollins to serve as interim Harris County Clerk.

The court voted 3-2 along party lines to approve Hollins. Five public speakers urged court members to choose Teneshia Hudspeth, Trautman’s chief deputy. County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said Hollins’ pledge to serve only on an interim basis factored in their decision.

So, it will be up to the Party’s precinct chairs to select someone to be the nominee on the November 2020 ballot. Let the games begin.

Hollins, though, seems like candidate material. He served the Obama administration’s Office of Presidential Personnel as a legal intern before embarking on his career. No doubt, he has some Democratic bonafides considering his current position in the Party.

After navigating the local Party website, I finally found out how to find my precinct chair. Unfortunately, they want all my information before telling me who publicly signed up to run for the office (or got appointed later). Anyway, if you want to lobby your precinct chair, I guess this is how you can start.

 

Should Harris County Have An Independent Elections Administrator?

In case you haven’t heard, our County Clerk Diane Trautman has submitted her resignation effective end of month. The Harris County Commissioner’s Court is about to appoint an interim to serve while each political party’s precinct chairs will decide on a candidate who will run in November, 2020. In fact, the interim appointment is supposedly happening this week.

While my post about any replacement county clerk was mostly political, the conversation seems to have taken a turn toward the notion of appointing a non-partisan, professional elections administrator. Harris County is among the last large counties in Texas who still have an elected official running elections, while others have hired professionals to serve in this capacity. And it’s mostly worked and it’s taken the politics out of elections–mostly.

Kuff has more on this.

One of the concerns I had at the time was how do you remove an Elections Administrator if one proves to be not up to the task. The answer to that question, at least as articulated in that last link, appears to be “with a four-fifths majority of the election commission”, which concerns me as anything that requires a supermajority does.

Whether one removes the politics from elections, it’s still a government role so it will still reek of politics if it comes down to this kind of situation. Still, giving the role to a professional doesn’t sound like a bad idea. The policy, though, is still made by politicians and bad policy won’t change unless you get rid of bad politicians who do not support access to voting and increased voter education.

Still, nothing wrong with a discussion.

We still have an election in 2020 to replace Diane Trautman–or to appoint someone who will move forward from where Trautman leaves off. Either way, Commissioner’s Court will need to appoint someone who can run elections in a month and in a few months. I’m pretty sure creating a new elections agency will take more than just printing new signage for office doors and courthouse hallways. Maybe, even politics!

 

County Clerk Diane Trautman To Resign

I’m saddened to read that our Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman has submitted her resignation effective end of May. She cites health concerns, her age, and how COVID-19 could threaten her and her family’s health in this regard.

Dr. Trautman has changed the way elections are run in Harris County. She has opened up access to voters. She has worked to make voting easier. And she finally started the process of replacing those outdated E-slates that should have been long-replaced during the republican years. Recently, she even stood up to the Attorney General to make the COVID-19 epidemic a good enough reason to order a ballot by mail in order to avoid election day crowds and the COVID spit clouds within them. She thought of making changes for the benefit of the people before she resigned for her own health. That counts for a lot.

I met Diane in 2004. I and my sister had opened up our Democratic Primary election day polling location in our neighborhood school. It still wasn’t cool for Democrats to challenge each other, or even stand up and run for a chance to take on the local republicans. So, it wasn’t all that busy in our republican Kingwood precinct. Out of nowhere, Diane shows up to volunteer for a few hours. While waiting for voters to trickle in, we talked process, resumes, and Democratic politics. I thought, this woman wants to run for something. Obviously, that was a good thing.

Soon, she’d make a run against Joe Crabb, the long-time right-wing state representative. Given her suburban living and suburban teaching and education administration experience, she had a lot of cross-party friends who supported her. Still, it’s tough to take on a republican in a republican district. It was a learning experience for Diane, but also for the rest of us who were trying to organize suburban Democrats–even if it was to provide a bottom line to our countywide numbers.

Diane did get elected to the Harris County Dept of Education Board, though. Because of her, many of us learned more about this taxing entity and how it helped school districts around the county, as well as students in need of specialized programs. And she fought valiantly against efforts by republicans to do away with the agency. It earned her more visibility to challenge a republican incumbent for County Clerk. And she won! And she worked.

Thanks, Dr. Trautman, for your service and friendship.

Back to central casting. The process calls for the County Commissioner’s court to name an interim County Clerk, and then the precinct chairs of each party will pick a candidate to run in November, 2020 with the winner completing the term and having to run for re-election in 2022.

I’m of the opinion that the Democratic majority on the Commissioner’s Court should make a strong appointment of someone who will be the incumbent, making it clear that there is no need for a possible free-for-all at the precinct chair level.

We elected our County Judge and our Commissioners, while most of us cannot even find a link on the Party website to find our own precinct chair so that we can lobby for whom we want them to vote. Either process is hardly democratic as the voters are left out of the process. I’d rather go with whom our top leaders choose and have the precinct chairs basically ratify it so we can move forward. Wishful thinking? Maybe.

Some may opine that appointing as interim one of the professionals already in the County Clerk’s office to run the 2020 election and be a placeholder while allowing a candidate chosen by the precinct chairs to run full-time is the solution. And that’s a good argument. But I think we should have a candidate who can show that they can do the professional and the political work, simultaneously. I think it’s more of a confidence builder for us voters when we see that our candidates can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Either way, we’ll see what happens. I already see suggestions on my Facebook feeds about who should run and about diversity on the ballot. There’s nothing wrong with healthy debate, but these things can take a turn for the ugly real quick. And that’s another reason why I’d like to see the Judge and Commissioners lead on this one.

EARLY VOTING BEGINS FOR THE 2020 DEM PRIMARY

Don’t ask me about the republican primary, but I’m sure the latest KKK meeting has an event page on Facebook.

Today, Tuesday, February 18, 2020 is the first day of early voting. In Harris County, that means you can vote at any early voting location. By now, you’ve studied every race and filled out your sample ballot to take to the voting machine. Or, you can print out the #StaceSlate and use my suggestions. Or at least some of them. We can disagree on some as long as you vote for Bernie. And Royce West. And Julia Maldonado. And Audia Jones. And Natalia Cornelio. And Diana Martinez Alexander. And Ann Harris Bennett. Obviously, I’ve made it easy with the #StaceSlate.

Anyway, you have until February 28 to bank your vote. Thankfully, our County Clerk Diane Trautman (with the help of a Democratic majority on Commissioner’s Court) is making voting easier and more accessible, so you’ll be able to vote at any polling location on election day (March 3). Need a translator? Diane has made that easy, too. Need curbside voting? Here you go! Get it done early because you never know what may happen to you before election day! And don’t forget your ID.

There really is no good reason to not vote. And in Harris County, the only ones that might keep you from voting are thuggy republicans who don’t want you to vote. But we have Diane Trautman to back you up! And we have Ann Harris Bennett to make sure you stay registered to vote.

Click here for the #StaceSlate! Happy Voting!

The 2018 Campaign Begins

donkickWell, at least for Diane Trautman, who announced she is running for Harris County Clerk in the 2018 Democratic Primary.

It’s a smart move by the current Harris County Department of Education Trustee, whose term is up in 2018. And this is an important position which, along with various administrative functions, is charged with running Harris County’s elections.

Protecting our right to vote and ensuring a reliable, secure, and convenient voting process is not new to me. As you know, I ran for Harris County Tax Assessor and Voter Registrar in 2008 and 2010 and came very close to unseating incumbent Paul Bettencourt.
Additionally, I am honored to be serving on the transition team for Ann Harris Bennett, our new Harris County Tax Assessor and Voter Registrar, and I will also serve on her voter registration committee. Meanwhile, I will be speaking to voters at clubs and organizations all over the county to hear their ideas, suggestions, and voting experiences. I hope to hear from you as well. Look for more details on my campaign in the new year.

Those of us who use the #FireStanStanart hashtag whenever we await election results are probably a little too excited about 2018. Of course, it will be a test for the Democratic Party, which swept the entire countywide slate in 2016. Can this be repeated in 2018? Kuff has more.

Which brings us to the race for Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party. Chair Lane Lewis announced he is stepping down in February. Although he accomplished various goals as the Party Chair, Lewis wasn’t without criticism in regards to fundraising and because he ran for office while serving as Chair. Then, again, which Party Chair hasn’t been criticized for just about anything, right?

There are some rumors going around as to who is running, but I won’t say anything until I get a formal announcement. I will say that Party Chair is a thankless job, it’s unpaid, and more than a few friends have compared it to herding cats. Whomever is in the job needs to be able to deal with more than a few types of personalities which means that person must be a people-person who is able to calm fears and worries and deal with criticism effectively, while getting the job done. Kuff has his thoughts.

I would like to announce that I am NOT in the running. For now, more than one precinct chair should expect to receive phone calls asking for support since it is they who will decide who gets the job to get Dems to a victorious 2018.

Thanks to Chairman Lane Lewis for serving. I could always count on him to get a heads-up on the latest party happenings. I’m sure he’s not done serving in other ways.