In a truly fortuitous occurrence, three members of Texpatriate have served as the representative of District A on the Houston Mayor’s Youth Council over the years, despite the fact that none of us lived within the District (though, to be fair, two of us lived in the district before the 2011 redistricting). This adopted home, therefore, has led this board to find a special interest within the District.
Most notably, District A is on pace to host its third consecutive runoff election, a distinction no other District in recent memory has been able to do. After serving the district well for six years, the longtime Councilmember, Toni Lawrence, became term limited before the 2009 election.
That election hosted a bitterly-fought contest between Brenda Stardig, a Republican, and Lane Lewis, a Democrat. Stardig ultimately won out in the very Conservative district. She served, however, as a pragmatic and compromising Councilmember, often aligning herself with the Mayor. Most notably, she supported the Mayor’s drainage tax. In a season riddled with Tea Party primary challenges, Councilmember Stardig was defeated for re-election in 2011 by Helena Brown, an ultraconservative activist.
Councilmember Brown, since taking office, has become a household name in the absurdities of politics since taking office. She routinely casts symbolic “no” votes on otherwise mundane and uncontroversial spending measures, as a way to vent anger against the existence of a non-minimal government,. This board believes that such positions are ultimately detrimental to the constituents of District A, who now lack an advocate in the City Council for their interests.
Accordingly, this board recommends that the voters of District A do not vote to re-elect Helena Brown. However, we have split over who the best candidate is to replace Councilmember Brown. Therefore, Texpatriate will not offer an official endorsement in District A. That being said, a minority endorsement will be made by Olivia Arena & George Bailey, while a second minority endorsement will be made by Noah M. Horwitz & Andrew Scott Romo.
District A is a conservative district that, like it or not, will elect conservative representatives for the foreseeable future. This works out well with the current composition of the District A election, as all five candidates are Republicans. We have been impressed by some of the candidates’ concise and logical opinions, such as Mike Knox, as well as the desire to work with colleagues of diverse points of view that we found with Ron Hale.
We find both of these candidates would be good picks for the district. However, we supported Brenda Stardig throughout her tenure on the City Council, and find that she would be the best choice for the district again today. Stardig would have the advantage of not requiring on-the-job training, as well as being able to pick up where she left off on those pertinent issues facing the district.
What ultimately became a liability for Stardig in 2011 –causing her to lose her seat– we find to be her greatest asset: pragmatism. By working together with the Mayor, we believed that Stardig will be best able to accomplish the most for her District. In her short two years on the City Council, Stardig attended a surfeit of outreach meetings that increased her standing within the community. That is what District A deserved, someone who fought for her constituents, not just her own political philosophy.
Accordingly, we endorse Brenda Stardig for the Houston City Council District A.
–Olivia Arena & George Bailey, unsigned
I concur with my colleagues that Councilmember Brown is wrong for District A. Further, I believe that it is imperative to find a replacement for District A who is connected to her constituents and open to discussion. At first glance, I find all four of the alternate candidates to be somewhat interesting and attractive, including Ron Hale, Mike Knox, Amy Peck & Brenda Stardig.
Mr Knox has good talking points and has run a very respectable campaign, including a superb social media effort. However, in his recent interview with Texpatriate, Mr Knox made two somewhat off-putting comments. First, he noted an affinity for a nation “based” on his religious values, something I have long been suspicious thereof and find anathema to the idea of Separation of Church & State. Further, and perhaps most notably, his comments about regulations of Food Trucks were not well received by me, especially after he lambasted the idea of regulation itself in the previous sentence.
Then there is Mr Hale. As perhaps the antithesis of Mr Knox, Mr Hale has run a great campaign based on outreach and bipartisan inroads, while being somewhat muddled and convoluted in his social media and campaign strategy. For example, while parts of his Texpatriate interview were rather nonsensical, I have been greatly impressed by his cooperation with Democratic-affiliated interest groups. His endorsements by the Houston Black-American Democrats and Oak Forest Area Democrats are convincing if one is looking for the most progressive candidate in the race. If that is what you are looking for, Ron Hale is your best bet.
The former Councilmember, Ms Stardig, also deserves a mention. While she certainly worked well with the Mayor on many occasions throughout her tenure, Ms Stardig was somewhat unreliable in many instances throughout her time on the City Council. Additionally, over two months ago, Ms Stardig was the first candidate to respond with an intent to submit a Texpatriate interview package, though she never followed through. Such unreliability is concerning for a public servant.
That leaves us with Ms Peck. A longtime constituent director for Sen. Dan Patrick, Ms Peck submitted perhaps the strongest Texpatriate interview. She summed up the problems with the incumbent quite eloquently and briefly in one of her responses, stating “Anyone can vote ‘no’ virtually every time. It takes a real leader to make tough decisions and vote based on the merits of each ordinance.”
Once again, Ms Peck works for Sen. Patrick, whom I have long admired on a personal level. While his political views are absolutely repugnant, he has always fought his hardest for what he believes, and will often work with others to help create consensus-based solutions. This was particularly evident last Legislative regular session, when he spearheaded a major education bill. It is my hope that Ms Peck, if elected, would bring this attitude to the City Council. As a constituent director, she will also be uniquely qualified to engage the residents of District A and listen to their concerns. I believe that, as her recent comments suggest, Ms Peck will, indeed, vote on the merits of each ordinance. Such a formula, along with massive constituent outreach, is what District A desperately needs. I believe Ms Peck will be best served to deliver on those needs.
Accordingly, I endorse Amy Peck for the Houston City Council District A.
–by Noah M. Horwitz. Andrew Scott Romo joins in the endorsement, but not the editorial opinion in full.
The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey & Noah M. Horwitz of Boston and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans.