First, the Houston Chronicle compiled an outline of the runoff election in District, between Graciana Garces and Robert Gallegos. As I noted about three weeks ago, the election looks to be a perfect carbon-copy of the special election for District 6 of the Texas Senate earlier this year. In that election, Sylvia Garcia (the former boss of Gallegos) defeated Carol Alvarado (the former boss of Garces) in the runoff that was ultimately held.
The Chronicle article, however, does not really note the policy differences that the two candidates have. Texpatriate endorsed Sylvia Garcia in March, just as how we endorsed Robert Gallegos in November, largely for the disquieting contributors of their respective opponents’ campaigns. Both Alvarado and (more timely) Garces have been funded in no small part by the payday lending lobby. Additionally, Councilmember James Rodriguez (to which Garces is actually the Chief of Staff) has been fighting against a recent proposal to regulate these payday lenders, and Garces has remained strangely silent and opaque on the issue. Her campaign continues to insist that she has not taken a definitive position, though I remain rather skeptical. Gallegos, on the other hand, is an ardent supporter.
At the end of the day, however, both of the candidates are Democrats, so their differences are comparatively minor. Looking through campaign reports, I have also found that the taxi associations have contributed heavily to Garces’ campaign as well, whereas Gallegos’ campaign has insinuated they were more supportive of reforms in the industry such as Uber. This is not really an issue very high on my radar, since Mayor Parker (who controls the Council’s agenda with an iron fist) has not given any reason to think it will debated in the near future. If you do find it significant, make of it what you will. Personally, I’d probably side with Garces on this issue, but that is a rather lengthy explanation that should not put forth as a moot point in an unrelated article.
Probably the hottest issue right now is an article recently published by Lone Star Q that reports on Garces accusing Gallegos of “bullying her LGBT supporters, trying to get them fired.” Gallegos is openly gay, and has been endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, though Garces (who is straight) has been endorsed by the larger establishment organizations of the GLBT Caucus and the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats.
The article alleges that Gallegos’ campaign and his supporters have been harassing the Garces campaign. Additionally, it reports that the interest groups (specifically the GLBT Caucus) have received numerous phone calls and other communications demanding a retraction of their endorsement. But if there is information proving that this harassment is actually connected to the campaign –and not just overzealous supporters– the Lone Star Q article didn’t print it.
Both candidates support, for instance, a non-discrimination ordinance as well as domestic partnership benefits. On paper, they are equal when it comes to these issues, though Gallegos’ campaign claims that he was the only candidate present at the Gay Pride parade. I was at the pride parade, and I don’t remember either candidate being present, but that is neither here nor there.
Another odd piece of information that jumped out when I was combing through campaign expense reports was that the Garces campaign used campaign money to buy a meal at Chick-Fil-A. It would be mighty hypocritical of me to really go after her for this otherwise innocuous offense, but then again, I’m not a candidate for public office courting LGBT support (I find what they do reprehensible, but damn do they make delicious sandwiches. And, if you’re wondering, my father is livid at me every time I consume aforementioned delicious sandwiches). Again, make of it what you will.
I’m supporting Gallegos for the much different financial backers he attracts. The payday lending reform ordinance is probably the best example of this. I think most people in the GLBT caucus should support Gallegos, but for no other reason than because most people in the GLBT caucus are Democrats, and he is the better Democrat in the race. To fight over who cares about the community more is rather silly, when they both obviously do.