2013 results and analysis

We’re working on trying to abridge the hours and hours of livestreamed Texpatriate election return coverage into about 20 minutes of the top hits. Yesterday, our all-time view record was demolished as thousands of people appeared to come to our website to read up on candidates before they voted. Additionally, Richard Nguyen, the victor in District F, had little impact on the internet besides his interview with Texpatriate.

First and foremost, Mayor Annise Parker was decisively re-elected to a third and final term as Mayor of Houston. She cruised to over 57% of the vote, far outpacing the amount of the vote she received in 2011. Meanwhile, Controller Ronald Green also was re-elected, albeit by a much smaller margin. The only surprises amongst City Council races were in At-large 3 and District F, respectively. Otherwise, most incumbents cruised to re-election.

All nine Statewide propositions passed, as did Harris County Proposition 1 (the joint processing center/jail). The Astrodome referendum, however, did not pass, as the iconic 8th Wonder of the World now looks condemned to demolition.

Click here to see full results and read more!

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More Chronicle endorsements

About a week ago, the Chronicle fielded its first two municipal endorsements: in District D and the Controller’s race. In the days since, the paper has made selections in seven more races, including three bitterly contested contests, not the least of which is the Mayoral election.

First, the Chronicle endorsed Jerry Davis for re-election in District B, much similar to the Texpatriate Editorial Board’s decision a couple weeks ago. The rationale was somewhat similar, a decision that Councilmember Davis had done a good job in office and should not be replaced without a good reason–one of which was not present.

Next, the paper endorsed Oliver Pennington for re-election in District G, again just as Texpatriate had earlier. The editorial, however, was painfully short on details, and seemed to be lacking a real reason to vote for Councilmember Pennington besides his incumbency. Typically, the Chronicle tries to avoid this.

The paper also continued to lob easy endorsements, such as Al Hoang for District F and Stephen Costello for At-large position #1. Texpatriate made the same recommendations, (Hoang and Costello, respectively) once again. This alignment should not be all that surprising, as all of these individuals are running with very little opposition. Accordingly, nearly everyone making endorsements will come to this conclusion.

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Texpatriate endorses in District A

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.

To find out who we endorse, read more below the jump!

Texpatriate’s Questions for Amy Peck

Editorial note: This is the fourteenth in our series of electronic interviews with City Council, City Controller and Mayoral candidates. We have sent 10 questions based on seven different templates: (1) incumbent City Council, (2) challenger City Council, (3) open seat City Council, (4) challenger Controller, (5) incumbent Controller, (6) challenger Mayoral and (7) incumbent Mayoral. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.

Amy Peck

Amy Peck, Candidate for the Houston City Council District A

Texpatriate: What is your name?
AP: Amy Peck

T: What is your current occupation?
AP: District Director for Senator Dan Patrick

T: Have you run for or held public office before?
AP: I ran for Houston City Council District A in 2009.  I came in third place out of seven candidates.

T: What is your political affiliation? We understand that City Council elections are nonpartisan, but this is a point many voters find important. If you are not comfortable currently identifying with a political party, what was the last Political Party’s primary election you voted in (a matter of public record)?
AP: Republican

T: Typically, this board will defer to incumbents unless we are convinced the incumbent has failed in some way. Do you believe the incumbent has failed at her or his job? If so, why?
AP: The current council member has failed.  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.  Political grandstanding doesn’t stop our homes from flooding, it doesn’t stop the crime, and it doesn’t improve our community.

T: Why are you specifically running against this incumbent?
AP: District A needs a real leader – someone who understands how government works and knows how to work with groups, constituents, and other elected officials to get the job done.  I have worked on the state level for almost eight years, and I know what it means to truly represent constituents.  I am the leader District A needs and deserves.

T: What do you hope to get out of serving on the City Council?
AP: Besides improving our community, I want my office to be known throughout the city as the office that gets the job done – the office that responds to every question, concern, and grievance.  My job for many years now has primarily been constituent services, and I look forward to bringing this knowledge and experience to the city level.

T: What is an ordinance you would introduce in your next term?
AP: Waste and duplication of services must be addressed.  I will introduce an ordinance that will require more thorough audits of each and every program.

T: Obviously, an officeholder strives to maintain a diverse core constituency and political base, but all candidates have interest groups they have been traditionally strong with and traditionally weak with, respectively. For you, what would be one example of each type of group?
AP: The job of a city council member is to govern.  While I am a strong, conservative republican I am running to govern.  As such, I welcome any person or group to meet with me to share their ideas.

T: What has been the most important thing you have learned in your campaign?
AP: After months of block walking and talking to constituents from all over the district, I learned about all of the important concerns that we have in District A.  I look forward to addressing these concerns once elected.

State of the Municipal Races

Daily Commentary has a somewhat exhaustive list of municipal candidates, but I felt like I needed to do the due diligence myself. Accordingly, this morning, after I left the Federal Courthouse for the day, I walked across the street to City Hall and visited Anna Russell’s office to see the Campaign Treasurer files for myself. Luckily I got out of both buildings before things went to hell. But you can watch the 6 o’clock news about all that. Anyways, I want to list the candidates and discuss each of the candidates’ financial records.

Mayor
First up, the two new candidates for Mayor. Keryl Douglas, the homophobic, bigoted unsuccessful candidate in last year’s campaign for Harris County Democratic Party Chair, has thrown her hat into the ring.  Douglas’ website is still a shell, containing nothing about the infamous Douglas Plan or her supporters. Like Eric Dick’s entrance into this race, I do not think this is really going to affect Parker’s chances. Douglas is just going to turn votes away from Ben Hall, because none of the Parker’s voters would go for the homophobe. Pardon my tone, but I will be pulling no punches against candidates for Mayor on this issue.

The other new candidate for Mayor is Victoria Lane. I found a telephone number on her from the treasurer form, but no website and no hits from I Googled her name.

The self-proclaimed Green Party candidate, Don Cook. Cook raised a little more than $10k, of which a negligible amount is still on hand. The self-proclaimed Socialist Worker, Michael Fitzsimmons, did not submit a form. I guess private campaign donations are sort of anathema to the glorious proletariat revolution, or what not. The self-proclaimed Republican, Eric Dick, did not file a form delineating his donations. He did, however, have about $11k in expenses. Victoria Lane raised about $4k.

Annise Parker’s campaign, meanwhile, raised a total of $2.2M, and only spent a fraction of that amount. But the real story is Ben Hall’s farce of a campaign. Hall raised a measly $300k or so, going significantly in the red, including a $1.5M loan. This is a far cry from his claims to be raising so much money. Oh well.

Controller
No new candidates for this race. Still a classic one-on-one fight between Green and Frazer. In this race, Green has raised about $70k, with most of it still on hand. Frazer, a Republican CPA, raised about $50k and spent close to 80% of the total.

AL1
Costello is still unopposed, as of now. The Councilmember raised a whopping $156k. Perhaps he has higher ambitions. Speaking of Costello, what the heck is his political affiliation nowadays? Once upon a time, I remember thinking he was a Republican, but between his common alignment with the Mayor and liberal takes on social issues (pro-choice and pro-gay marriage), I do not think the GOP would ever support his candidacy in this State.

AL2
Councilmember Burks has three opponents: David Robinson, Trebor Gordon and Carolyn Evans-Shabazz. Burks, for his part, raised $41K and only spent a fraction of it. Robinson raised over $80k, but, as Dos Centavos points out, he probably has to retire some old campaign debt. Accordingly, he only has about $50k fit for spending. Still more than the incumbent.

Trebor Gordon is not a name I had heard in connection with this race before. He has a website as http://www.treborgordon.com/ and is an avowed Republican. It will be interesting to see what he does. The other name is Carolyn Evans-Shabbaz. A cursory Facebook search reveals a deep dissatisfaction with the Trayvon Martin case and close frienship with Assata-Nicole Richards, both tell-tale signs of a Democrat. Gordon raised about $1500, while Evans-Shabbaz did not submit a return.

AL3
Here comes the mess.

First up is Michael Kubosh, who raised over $100k ($108k, to be exact). Right next to this total is Rogene Calvert, who raised $84k and retained most the cash.

Roland Chavez raised about $27k, and only spent a couple thousand. Chris Carmona is completely destitute. Roy Morales raised $37k and spent $35k of that. This is surprising, and not just because Dos Centavos originally called him broke as well. Morales did not run for anything in 2011 or 2012. That’s like a new record for him or something.

Jenifer Pool, who seemed to have filed late, raised $34k and spent most of the total. Al Edwards, who still in unofficially officially in the AL3, did not file a return.

AL4
Bradford, presumably running for re-election, raised $54k with most of it still in the bank.

AL5
Jack Christie raised a whopping $95k, with over 2/3 still on hand. Even worse, he has not a single opponent. Personally, I think Robinson should run against Christie. Sure, Burks is a little odd and sometimes frustrates progressives, but Christie is legitimately a Conservative Republican who goes on anti-vaccine rants.

Once upon a time, I had heard of quite a few possible candidates for this race, from former State Reps, former City Councilmembers, activists to lawyers. I think I even read my father’s name mentioned for this one. Alas, no one will step up. I’d put my own name on the ballot if push comes to shove, but I feel there will be at least token opposition.

District A
This race really boils down to a third-person race between the incumbent, Helena Brown, the former one-term Councilmember, Brenda Stardig, and Amy Peck.  Ron Hale, Mike Knox and Catarina Cron are the other candidates I have hard from in this race. This is still no Democrat in the race.

Brown raised about $67k, spending a little under half of the total. Stardig, meanwhile, did not report raising any money. Peck  raised a pitiful $4k. In this regard, it looks like the incumbent may not have that hard of a time after all.

Ron Hale picked up $2.5k, while Knox took in a whopping $41k. Cron did not submit a report.

District B
The incumbent, Jerry Davis, will be facing some opposition next year within his own party. For his part, he raised about $53k and spent a negligible amount.

He has two declared opponents: Joe Joseph & Katherine Blueford-Daniels. I can’t really find anything on the former candidate, but Blueford-Daniels does come up with a few searches. She is being supported predominantly by Carol Mims Galloway, the former Councilmember and School Board member in that district and NAACP leader. This, of course, begs the question of how much other support Blueford-Daniels has.

Joseph did not file a return, but Blueford-Daniels did. However, she only raised $5k.

District C
Ellen Cohen could very possibly draw some opponents, including Brian Cweren, her biggest 2011 opponent. However, the only other candidate who has filed a campaign treasurer or campaign report is Pete Sosa. For the life of me, I cannot find a Facebook page or other meaningful internet footprint.

Cohen raised $128k, with most of it still on hand. Sosa did not file any sort of report.

District D
The District D race might actually have more people in it than the AL3 one. Dwight Boykins, who is backed by much of the old guard political establishment including Mayor Brown, raised $150k with over $100k left unspent.

There are a few other well-known candidates, Assata-Nicole Richards and Georgia Provost. The former raised $37k with half on hand, while the latter raised $21k with little on hand.

Onto the new candidates, the first is Kirk White. White has a Facebook page for his campaign, but it doesn’t go into very much detail about anything. I have no idea if he’s a Democrat in the Democratic district, or not. He filed a report of less than $1k in contributions.

Then there is a Keith Caldwell. Caldwell is an activist in the Democratic Party, serving positions at both the Precinct and Senate District Level. He has a website and big social media presence already. His campaign, however, raised a measly $2.75k with full expenses.

Travis McGee, the past Sunnyside Civic Group President, has also been conducting a campaign. He’s raised nearly $5k and spent about all of it.

Not filing reports but registered as candidates anyways are Anthony Robinson, Larry McKinzie and Lana Edwards. Robinson just has a shell of a website. Though his Facebook page is more active and suggests he was involved in the big Trayvon Martin protests yesterday. I guess it is safe to assume he is a Democrat.

McKinzie, who now has a website, previously ran against Adams in 2009. Another Democrat.

Edwards has a little shell thing here, but I can’t figure out much else.

District E
At this point I think Councilmember Martin is just running unopposed. He has raised $53k with $23k on hand.

District F
Likewise, Councilmember Hoang has yet to draw any opposition. He raised just $13k with just $11k on hand.

District G
Councilmember Pennington is not unopposed, however. Pennington raised a very impressive $189k for his campaign, so it will probably not be a credible threat.

I had been wondering if Clyde Bryan would make another run for his seat, again with the bandit signs and such. He is not, Bryan will be working on Dick’s campaign. But a candidate named Brian Taef is running. I could not find any trace of him on Google, but Taef did file a campaign report. He raised $150, for the record.

District H
At this point, it looks like Ed Gonzalez will be unopposed for yet another term. He raised close to $80k with most of it still on hand.

District I
We start things off with the pseudo-favorite, Graci Garces, Councilmember Rodriguez’s Chief of Staff. Garces raised about $19k with most of it still on hand. Her main competitor, Ben Mendez, raised a huge $94k.

Robert Gallegos, yet another Democrat in the race, got about $17k. The lone Republican, Leticia Ablaza, got $27k with about $16k on hand still.

As Dos Centavos points out, until March Garces, and Gallegos were competing with the SD06 race for donors. Accordingly, their numbers may have been retarded in comparison with the Republican candidate. Although that does not explain Mendez.

District J
Councilmember Laster, with $66k in donations and $81 on hand, is unopposed.

District K
Councilmember Green, with $93k raised and most still on hand, is likewise unopposed.

That’s all, folks. Off the KuffDos Centavos and Greg’s Opinion all have a lot more. They’ve been doing this stuff since before my Bar Mitzvah, so I highly suggesting consulting their work too.

2/10 tidbits

I’ve been shoveling snow straight for pretty much the last two days, so forgive my absence from the computer. I believe Boston received exactly 25 inches of snow. Anyways, a few things have happened over the weekend. Keeping in touch with some precedent, I will not be writing much on this things, just acknowledging them, so I may be able to keep up with the news starting this week. I’ll be in Houston from the 16th to 23rd, but that is probably just irrelevant.

First, Helena Brown said something dumb. I know, I know, what a surprise. Anyways, she thinks that ordinances that crack down on people who sell stolen precious metals to pawn shops somehow violate our liberty. I don’t even.

Next, there is a date on the SD06 runoff: March 2nd. This will prove to be the REAL contest, and I, for one, cannot wait.

Finally, a few people made it official on their campaigns over the weekend, including Brenda Stardig and Amy Peck, both for District A. I have linked their websites to the “2013/2014 Elections” tab.

Houston City Council moves to amend rules of expulsion

The City Council took the unilateral step to re-engineer the steps for reprimanding and expelling members, taking the Mayor out of the equation and replacing it with some convoluted panel or what not. The move was passed by all those present, those not present only including the esteemed Councilmember Helena Brown. Brown has seen her fair share of issues in the nine months she has served so far, including allegedly tampering with her staff’s timecards (which I think is a felony), and wasting city money on an extraneous trip to Asia. Councilmember Brown let out a harshly worded press release in response to this measure, which is all but aimed towards her.

Brown condemned the measure as “dirty crony politics” and tantamount to making the Council the “judge, jury, and executioner”. Although I think she should be worried about the REAL executioner, the ballot box. With former Councilmember Brenda Stardig publicly musing and Amy Peck all in, Brown’s prospects for the future do not look great.

Now, I think it is time to go on one of my famous rants. I really do not like Helena Brown, and she does not belong in government. I’ve never understood why ultra-conservatives would ever run for government positions if they hate the government so much. “I need to get inside the beast to kill it”…yeah that sounds like what the one nerd friend who gets tapped to join a final club says to the other one. Ayn Rand would never in a million years have run for elected office, so why do all those self-described disciples of hers do? But this isn’t even about Rand or objectivism, it is about Brown.

2009 was my first year at City Hall, and I was assigned to work with people from District A, which at that time was still Toni Lawrence’s. Like any good liberal, I supported Lane Lewis all the way through the runoff and was somewhat disappointed at Stardig’s election. But I am a professional so I gave an open mind to the new Councilmember/my new boss and was pleasantly surprised. Stardig is what a Republican SHOULD be: conservative but not afraid of moderation or compromise. Alas, the idiots have taken over the asylum and Stardig lost re-election in her uber-conservative district to Brown. Brown ran on a take-no-prisoners, scorched earth approach to politics. Luckily, I don’t think it is going to last.