Tag Archives: Harris County

Latinos on the Ballot

There was an article in the Chron recently about the record number of Latinos on the ballot of both primaries. Of course, there were multiple people running in some races, such as Congress District 29 and Commish Pct. 2. Still, at the end of the Democratic Primary, how many Latinos have been left on the island?

Well, since most Latinos in Harris County live away from areas represented by Latin@s, I’ll use my own ballot as an example. At this moment, Democrats have the potential for 12 Latinos on my ballot. Of those 12, three are in run-off races, including Lupe Valdez who is running for Texas Governor, Richard Cantu for HCDE At-Large, and Cosme Garcia for County Treasurer.

But for sure we in Harris County will see names like Suazo, Lacayo, Hidalgo and Rodriguez on the ballot. And there’s even a Fleischer (es hijo de Chilenos).

And outside of my ballot, some in Harris County will see Sylvia Garcia, Adrian Garcia, Jessica Farrar, Ana Hernandez, Armando Walle, Penny Shaw, Carol Alvarado and more.

In case you’re asking about the dark side (GOP), there are eight on my ballot, including one in a run-off. Of course, being Latino doesn’t necessarily mean they support the issues that are important to Latinos, and Ted Cruz, Little Brown Bush, and the rest are not with us. Just to be clear. And we should never be afraid to say this. But anything for a “record breaking” article, I guess.

And that’s what’s important about ballot diversity. Representation goes beyond the Spanish surname. It’s about voters having a diversity of candidate stories with which they might identify to make the polls more inviting. In other words, a ballot that looks like Houston and Harris County.

But, most importantly, it’s about who’s fighting for you and your issues. Who’s standing up for public education, jobs, immigration reform, and access to health care/ And in these days of trumpism, we need all the fighters we can get.

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Run-Offs, Victories, and Tear-Jerkers

I’ll just comment a little on some of the races that were on my radar.

CD29

Congrats to State Senator Sylvia Garcia on a decisive victory based on a disciplined campaign that surged from beginning to end. This, despite a big money newbie who came in from Beaumont to challenge her. Ultimately, all that big money guy did was take the oxygen out of the other challengers who were mostly ignored in the race. There are a couple in there with a lot of potential, so, they should keep active in the local scene and the Party. I wasn’t worried about the Senator as she had a pretty great team of campaign workers doing the GOTV.

SD6

With Senator Garcia’s victory, she will have an easier fall campaign since CD29 is a Dem seat. Eventually and some time after she wins CD29, the Senator will resign her SD6 position, and already State Reps Ana Hernandez and Carol Alvarado have announced their intentions to run for the seat. Of course, a special election date will not be set until that resignation and at the Governor’s leisure. Best guess:  May, 2019? Thankfully, neither Hernandez nor Alvarado will be required to resign and will serve during the next Lege session. So, stay tuned.

Rabeea Collier and Judicial Campaigns

Rabeea Collier, running for the 113th Civil District Court, achieved quite a victory with 73% of the vote, defeating an inexperienced, yet self-funded, lawyer. Rabeea will be among some great lawyers in the running to serve Harris County in various courts. Among the winners yesterday were Lauren Reeder, Cory Sepolio, Christine Weems, Barbara Stalder, David Fleischer, Raul Rodriguez, etc. We’ll have the long list soon.

My best wishes to Kathy Vossler, Fred Cook, Harold Landreneau, Juan Aguirre and Tracy Good. You all ran great races and are great lawyers whom I will always respect and support in your future campaigns.

 

Countywide Run-Offs

There is still voting to be done on May 22 as Democrats decide in several run-off races. For District Clerk, Marilyn Burgess, who came quite close to winning outright, will take on Rozzy Shorter. For County Clerk, it is Diane Trautman versus Gayle Young Mitchell. For County Treasurer, Cosme Garcia and Dylan Osbourne. And for At-Large Trustee of HCDE Richard Cantu and Josh Wallenstein. I’ve decided in three of the races, but I’ll need to be convinced about the race for treasurer.

By the way, my friend Nile Copeland (3rd place in the Treasurer’s race) had a good enough showing to be asked whom he is supporting in the run-off. Now that he can buy me tacos again without having to report them, I may just ask him.

The Commishes

Congrats to my long-time friend Adrian Garcia on a big win versus a few challengers. He’s the one candidate that can re-take Precinct 2 for the good guys. And what a showing by first-time candidate Penny Shaw in Precinct 4–75%. She earned every vote because she was everywhere, coordinated various events, and created relationships every step of the way. On to November!

Other Run-Off Races

I have all the love and respect for Jim Cargas and Dorina Papageorgiou for all they have done in CD7. Unfortunately, politics can be like kids with new toys at Christmas. Look at all the new candidates!!! Let’s open them up and see what they give us! And they gave plenty of ads, mailers, etc. So, it’ll be Moser vs Fletcher in the run-off. I’ll have to ask my sis whom she is supporting. And Nile Copeland, too!

In SD17, Fran Watson kept the race close in Fort Bend and Brazoria Counties to make it into a run-off with Rita Lucido. Good luck to Fran!

THE GOV

What a showing by former Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez with 42% against all those other politically inexperienced candidates. I was impressed with some great showings in South Texas, plus Dallas, Denton, Tarrant, El Paso, and Travis. She shouldn’t ignore Harris County, though, and do everything to cut into her opponent’s local margin. Oh, yeah, I still support Lupe Valdez for Governor.

The End of the Ballot

I heard a lot of chatter from a few political folks who didn’t like the end of the ballot survey questions–that’s all they are, a survey. Hell, I like them. And, apparently, so do the voters. While some of our candidate races had 15 to 20% undervotes, the ballot questions had less than 6% undervoting. I don’t mind if Dem voters talk to us since most of them won’t go to the county and district conventions to form the platform. And if we get some surprise answers we don’t want to hear, well, that just means the Party needs to work harder to ensure we stay true to our values and issues.

See you at the races!

7am to 7pm Early Voting This Week

Early Voting is in effect, February 26 thru March 2, 2018, from 7AM to 7PM. That’s this week, folks. Find an early voting location near you and get it done before Primary Election Day, March 6, where you’ll only get to vote in your neighborhood polling location. The easiest thing to do is get your sample ballot here, then vote the Stace Slate.

Compared to 2014, folks seem to be flocking to the Democratic Primary. At this moment, Democrats are neck-and-neck with the other side as far as participation goes. There were reports last week that a good chunk of them were first-time Democratic Primary voters. And this makes me wonder whether some of the political mail that has gone out has actually been effective, as this group probably didn’t get any of it since they hadn’t voted in a Primary before.

Of course, some of these “new” voters have been caught not knowing how primaries work. Or how lack of progress on Democratic issues isn’t necessarily the fault of a Den incumbent when said incumbent is part of a minority in whatever lawmaking body they are serving. It’s earned these folks some ridicule from some of the local pros, but then I remember that the local pros aren’t big fans of political education during the election off-season. Then, again, there’s enough blame to go all around, including personal responsibility.

Anyway, be an informed voter. If you want to find more info on candidates, the League of Women Voters Houston has their voter guide online. In two languages!

The Harris County Dem Primary Is Quite Contested

If you’d like to check out the list of races in your county, you can visit here and then pick the county of your choice. The final updated version may not come for a day or so, I’m thinking.

The Harris County Dem Primary has shaped up to be a contested one for some of the countywide races. For District Clerk, Marilyn Burgess has been working the various Democratic clubs around the county for most of the year. She has ended up with three opponents. You can find them on the list on your own.

For County Clerk, Diane Trautman announced her intention to run over a year ago and has been working hard getting reacquainted with voters. A known commodity on the Dem side of things, Diane has served on the Harris County Department of Education Board for a full term. She now has two other opponents.

Many of us had been wondering who was going to take on the current Republican County Treasurer. I’m happy to see that my friend (more like a brother) Judge Nile Bailey Copeland, a Houston municipal judge appointed and re-appointed by Democratic mayorshas signed up to run. He’ll have a couple of opponents. Nile has been on the Democratic side of the ballot a couple of times for judicial posts, and he’s given his time on issues and questions of election law and voter access that have benefited Democrats and democracy, in general. And he’s always a great person with whom to have coffee on any given day of the week. I look forward to following his campaign.

I’ll keep scanning the contested races to see which direction I’m heading.

 

 

 

Looking Forward To The 2018 Dem Primary

Well, looks like all the excitement (and panic) over the race for Congressional District 29 has subsided as current and former officeholders who contemplated running for the seat decided to either run for re-election to their respective seats, or, go in a different direction.

State Reps Armando Walle (140) and Carol Alvarado (145) have decided to run for re-election. Both have served for multiple terms and are considered leaders at the Capitol who will be needed to take on an expected right-wing onslaught of bigoted bills. Of course, both may also be thinking of the free-shot at running for SD-6 without the need to resign if/when Sylvia Garcia is elected to Congress, which we’ll know after the Dem Primary since the district usually goes Democratic in November.

Former Sheriff Adrian Garcia has also decided to go in a different direction and challenge right-winger Jack Morman for County Commish Pct. 2, which covers East Harris County. As much as Adrian Garcia and I have debated on some issues, I’ve always been a fan of his. I think he can run hardest toward November, as well as excite the electorate to vote down-ballot.

Harris Democrats have been updating a page containing folks running for judicial positions. There are a few candidates in contested races that I’m supporting, including Rabeea Collier for the 113th District Court; Fred Cook for the 189th District Court; and Raul Rodriguez for County Criminal Court #13.

I’ve known Rabeea for over a decade, which is most of her legal career. We both organized in the Kingwood/Humble area as activists trying to increase the Democratic bottom line. As an activist, she has worked hard to turn Harris County blue. As an attorney, she zealously represents her clients. She has put in the sweat equity over the years and deserves to be our nominee.

Fred Cook first ran for judge in 2008 in a very contested race in which Judge Steven Kirkland was the victor. I supported Fred back then and we both supported Kirkland afterwards. When I heard he was running again, I felt it was about time.

Raul Rodriguez has run for positions at different times, while also putting in time volunteering in various activities. I mean, whenever I go to something in the community, Raul (and wife Pati) are there! Raul deserves to be our nominee in November. He’s experienced and has a sincere connection to the community.

There will be more to come as more candidates file, especially the statewides. I’m hoping Sheriff Lupe Valdez of Dallas files for Governor, otherwise, I won’t be left with any good choices and I may just skip the race entirely (or hold my nose in November). And I really hope Little Brown Trust Fund Baby gets a challenge for Land Commish.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE:  And within an hour of this post, this just in:

Sheriff Gonzalez Ends Use of Private Jails

Now, this is the kind of news I like to hear coming out of Sheriff Gonzalez’s office.

For years, Harris County has spent millions transporting and warehousing inmates in private jails and prisons because of overcrowding. Sure, the article states that this was done mostly for budget savings and to curb overcrowding, but these private jails are badly run with little oversight. Still, it’s good to see the Sheriff take action on the matter.

“I simply think we incarcerate way too many folks; and there is a cost associated with that. Whether it be the cost of daily housing or sometimes outsourcing inmates. So I think that we need to change those practices… And that’s why I’m a big advocate for reform, and really addressing our mass incarceration complex that we have in this country,” Gonzalez said.

He says there are also other benefits to bringing inmates back in-house.

“We have more control of what we’re doing. You know, the medical records, things like that,” Gonzalez said.

Another benefit? Loved ones can visit inmates, without having to travel to other municipalities or cities.

There are still some major systemic problems that need to be dealt with, but, I guess culture change takes a lot of time to achieve buy-in and implementation. At least that’s what I keep getting told by the local experts.

One thing’s for sure, we really need to do something about that bail system; however, for that, we’ll also need some good candidates to defeat the incumbent county judge and Precinct 2 commissioner.

Harris County Attorney Files Brief Against SB4

As was reported last week, the Republicans on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court may have chickened out of joining the SB4 lawsuit, in what may have been a pre-emptive move to avoid getting on Greg Abbott’s “list,” but it didn’t stop County Attorney Vince Ryan from submitting a brief to the federal court asking for a stop to any implementation of the racial profiling, anti-immigrant law.

Ryan makes the case that SB4 affects children his office represents.

The Harris County Attorney’s office, objects to the law for the following reasons:

The office represents the state Department of Family Protective Services in child protection cases, advocating for children’s best interests and the preservation of families — irreconcilable with the thrust of SB4, which is to “to cooperate in efforts which will lead tothe deportation of parents or kinship caregivers, the separation of families, and further trauma to children,” according to the brief.

Federal mandates require that assistance and benefits should be available to children and families “irrespective of their immigration status,” according to the brief. State law also directs that “the provision of the services necessary to give effect to children’s best interests are not conditioned on their, or their parents’, immigration status,” according to the brief.

Ryan states: “Any county attorney who declines to engage with assisting in the enforcement of immigration laws or discourages colleagues from doing so in order to advocate for the best interest of the child and promote family unification — as child welfare laws mandate — would not be “providing enforcement assistance” and would be “adopt[ing], enforce[ing], or endors[ing] a policy” or engaging in a “pattern or practice” that “materially limits the enforcement of immigration laws.””

Children of parents or family members who have been deported will be placed in an overburdened and potentially harmful foster care system.

Immigrant communities will fear cooperation and will not report abuse or neglect or provide information to authorities seeking to protect children.

SB4 will leave a huge swath of the community affected in one way or another. Whether one sees it as a legalized racial profiling law that targets anyone of color to be asked their immigration status, or a license for local cops to shirk their crime-fighting duties in favor doing some immigrant hunting, or in the case of the County Attorney, a law that will affect children caught up in their own brand of hell, it’s just a bad law.

“S.B. 4 will do irreparable damage to this State’s child welfare process, place county attorneys charged with representing DFPS in an irreconcilable conflict, and do further trauma to children who have been placed in the State’s care. Further, there is no legitimate state purpose in treating children who have an unauthorized immigrant parent or other potential care giver differently in child welfare cases,” states Ryan’s brief, which was filed this month in federal court.

In other news, the City of Laredo has joined the SB4 lawsuit. In fact, their City Council voted unanimously to join it. Now, that’s what I call a “welcoming city.”

 

 

 

 

Harris County Republican Commissioners Chicken Out on SB4 Lawsuit

As was expected, the Republicans on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court chickened out when Democrat Rodney Ellis made the motion for Harris County to join the SB4 lawsuit. So chicken were they–at the very least Judge Emmett and Pct. 2 Commissioner Jack Morman–that they wouldn’t even second Ellis’ motion so that a proper vote would be taken by the court.

A diverse set of leaders and advocates went before the court asking for the County to join the lawsuit against the legalized racial profiling law which would allow law enforcement to ask persons of their immigration status. Included in the list were State Senator Sylvia Garcia and State Representative Armando Walle.

As reported by the Texas Observer, it would seem to me that Emmett attempted to provide some political cover for his fellow Republicans.

“Don’t interpret, if we decide not to sue, that decision as an endorsement of SB 4,” he said after hearing the testimony, which lasted about 15 minutes.

“It is!” shouted someone in the audience. She called the commissioners  “cowards,” and promised that she and others would campaign against those who chose not to sue. Police officers escorted her out of the room.

Emmett said SB 4 goes too far in “interfering” with local government, but said that doesn’t mean the county should sue.

So, why not a vote? Admitting to overreach, yet chickening out, says a lot about the lack of leadership that exists in Harris County.

It’s just another way of saying, “We’re not racist, but…”

Anyway, who’s running against the judge and the Pct. 2 commish in 2018? At the very least, we need a good Democratic choice on the ballot, if not a well-funded one. The GOPers sell themselves to the highest bidders.

Democrats, though, seem to be leading the way in fighting SB4, along with various organizations. And as a likely bigoted and anti-education special session nears, at least one Democratic State Rep., Ramon Romero of Fort Worth, has  filed a bill to repeal SB4.

Hey, who knows? Perhaps the ghost of Texas’ Bigoted Past will visit a majority of the Republicans under the dome and they’ll vote for it.

UPDATE:  Kuff has more on the Republicans’ big miss on what might have been a profiile in courage. Morman’s excuse is pretty weak.

 

 

Houston Area Senators Urge Harris County on SB4 Lawsuit; To Be Considered on July 11

From the inbox:

(Houston, Texas) The Harris County Commissioners Court is set to consider joining the lawsuit against Senate Bill 4 at their meeting tomorrow, July 11th at 10am. Senators John Whitmire, Sylvia R. Garcia and Borris Miles issued a joint letter urging commissioners to vote in favor of joining with counties and municipalities across Texas in suing the State of Texas over the controversial legislation.

The 85th Legislature passed Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), the “show-me-your-papers” law, scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2017. We were extremely disappointed to see the state’s leadership endorse legislation that strips local control from Harris County, incentivizes racial profiling, and makes our communities less safe.

SB 4 contains numerous provisions that simply cannot be allowed to take effect. SB 4 would prevent local law enforcement leaders from setting their own policies to work with the communities under their jurisdiction. It would further allow individual law enforcement officers to decide on their own whether and how to question individuals about their immigration status, creating a troubling path to unchecked racial profiling. This will have a chilling effect on crime reporting in vulnerable neighborhoods, and make our community less safe.”

Senator Garcia will personally attend the meeting to testify in support of litigation. The agenda item has been brought up by County Commissioner of Precinct 1, Rodney Ellis. The full letter can be read here.

Houston-area State Reps have also sent a letter urging the County to join the SB4 lawsuit. A federal court hearing was already held in late June; however, there was no immediate ruling. So, let’s stay tuned.

 

Local TX House Delegation Asks Harris Co to Join SB4 Lawsuit

A group of Houston Texas House members has penned a letter to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court requesting they join the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SB4–the “Show Me Your Papers” racial profiling law signed by Greg Abbott.

Texas House members include:  Alma Allen, Carol Alvarado, Garnet Coleman, Harold Dutton, Jessica Farrar, Ana Hernandez, Jarvis Johnson, Mary Ann Perez, Ron Reynolds, Shawn Thierry, Senfronia Thompson, Hubert Vo, Armando Walle, and Gene Wu.

Pointing to various constitutional flaws in the law, the group also made a case for the lawsuit citing the law’s threat to public safety:

With the fifth largest foreign born population in the country, Harris County is especially at risk. All people in the community must feel safe and free to report crime and call law enforcement when necessary, without the fear of the same law enforcement asking for their papers. The provisions of SB4 will diminish trust and chill the reporting of crime, making our county less safe.

The letter further states the constitutional liability the county could face for unlawfully detaining individuals without warrant or probably cause.

Already, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and the tiny town of El Cenizo, along with Bexar, El Paso, and Maverick counties have joined the lawsuit. Efforts have increased to add more parties to the lawsuit, including Brownsville, Pasadena, and other Texas communities.

For the latest on the lawsuit, head over to MALDEF’s twitter feed for the latest arguments being made by the good guys and the bad guys at the federal court hearing in San Antonio.

Thanks to the office of State Representative Armando Walle for keeping us informed and for their work on these efforts. [copy of letter below]

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