The progressive one, anyhow.
Amid painfully low voter turnout of less than 4%, it became abundantly clear that the progressives* had showed up in force last night *–I use the term progressive, not ‘liberal’ or ‘Democrat,’ in this context because the Council is far more diverse, with Conservative Democrats like Andrew Burks and Progressive Republicans like Stephen Costello. Two incumbent City Councilmembers were defeated for re-election and an open seat saw a repudiation of the longstanding political dynamic there. In many respects, this is the realignment of the City Council from the blunders of 2011.
There were also three elections for the HCC Board, two of which also featured incumbents losing their re-election bids. Particularly of note here was the loss of Yolanda Navarro-Flores, who has an accomplished political career. A longtime HCC Trustee and former member of the Texas House of Representatives, she has also run unsuccessful campaigns for the City Council and the State Senate. According to Off the Kuff, Navarro-Flores allegedly engaged in some pretty unseemly and homophobic tactics throughout the election. Despite having roughly a 23 point lead in November and just being a few votes shy of outright victory, she lost by a whopping 6 points on last night. Despite doing very well in absentee votes, she lost Election Day votes by 24 points. Goes to show what motivating your base will do for you.
I did not especially cover the HCC Races, but it is worth noting that Herlinda Garcia, an incumbent, was defeated by Adriana Tamez. Additionally, in the open seat, Robert Glaser (whom I voted for) won. Kuffner points out that this means Dave Wilson will have far fewer friends on the board, but more on this later.
The City Council also saw two relatively unsurprising elections. Dwight Boykins, who lead the pack in District D by a longshot in November, won with a whopping 70% of the vote last night. His opponent, Georgia Provost, did not do much to distinguish herself on the issues, simply resorting to silly little antics that obviously did not make much of an impression. Additionally, Michael Kubosh was elected in At-large position #3, albeit by a much closer margin than I would have predicted.
In District A, Helena Brown’s two year reign of terror was brought to an end last night as Brenda Stardig, the woman who was defeated by Brown two years ago, defeated her and triumphantly returned to City politics. The question remains to be seen, however, of if Brenda 2.0 becomes super conservative just to placate some of her angry, right-wing constituents. We have seen this recently from David Dewhurst, it is not a pretty picture. Otherwise, it will probably be Kubosh who replaces Brown as the biggest thorn in the Mayor’s side.
In At-large position #2, Andrew Burks was defeated by David Robinson, ever so slightly. The astute will recall that in 2011, Burks defeated an establishment candidate (former State Representative Kristi Thibaut) by a hair, and we all held our breath to see what kind of Councilmember he would be. While there are certainly those more prudent than I who were appalled by his confrontational, truculent style or his criminal record or even allegedly drinking on the job, all of this is irrelevant to me compared to where he stood on the issues.
It is the issues that cost Burks his support of me. Between voting for and still vigorously defending the homeless feeding ordinance, railing against food trucks and engaging in dilatory measures against a decent Payday lending reform ordinance, I found Burks’ political philosophy to be at odds with my own, as did a majority of last night’s electorate. By just a few points, his challenger, David Robinson, defeated him.
Finally, there is District I. In many respects, this was also the loss of an incumbent, as the term-limited Councilmember’s (James Rodriguez) Chief of Staff (Graciana Garces) unsuccessfully ran for the post. To say Rodriguez campaigning heavily for Garces would be a crude understatement. Her defeat by Robert Gallegos should be counted as the defeat of an incumbent just the same.
I will be writing more on this in a few hours, but for now I think it is important to note the dynamics for the Payday Lending reform ordinance. Two opponents of this ordinance, Andrew Burks and James Rodriguez, will be replaced by supporters of the ordinance, David Robinson and Robert Gallegos, respectively. Additionally, and we will be writing at length about this in the next few days, this means the number of women on the Council, which stood at a majority just a few years ago, will be down to barely one-eighth.