Civil Affairs: Parker’s night

CIVIL AFFAIRS

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This past Saturday night was my last weekend evening in Boston as a resident. Despite this, I could find no better activity for the night than to meticulously follow and live-blog the Houston municipal runoff elections. Albeit, most of my friends have either gone home for Christmas or are intensely studying, and it did not help anyone’s social life that a foot of snow fell upon Boston over the weekend.

Click here to read Horwitz’s column!

The Empire Strikes Back

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.

Click here to read more!

Texpatriate runoff liveblog

Please follow @NmHorwitz on Twitter for up to the minute coverage from the runoffs!

10:58 BOS/9:58 HOU
Final RESULTS!
A–Stardig 51%/Brown 49%
D–Boykins 70%/Provost 30%
I–Gallegos 53%/Garces 47%
AL2–Robinson 51%/Burks 49%
AL3–Kubosh 53%/Morales 47%
HCC1–Capo 53%/Navarro-Flores 47%
HCC3–Tamez 53%/Garcia 47%
HCC5–Glaser 60%/Kunetka–40%

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Council update, 12/11

The Houston City Council took no major action this week, as Councilmembers high and low tagged proposals to delay them for one week. Instead, the only updates we have are those that seek to prognosticate towards the future involving existing proposals, almost all of which were pushed back by the dilatory tactic.

First, KPRC is reporting on a proposal to relax the City’s alcohol sales ordinance, which bans any store from selling beer or wine within 1000 feet to a school or a church. Mayor Parker has now proposed easing the regulation to 300 feet, applying only to “larger grocery stores.” I have no idea what the cutoff between a small store and a large grocery store is, and I am in no small part concerned about the possibility that this is an olive branch to Wal-Mart and the like. That being said, perhaps I am just misreading all of it.

The proposal is meant to attract more grocery stores to low-income areas, where very small churches are often ubiquitously located in strip-malls alongside shopping centers. These low-income areas are often called Food Deserts for the scarcity of healthy eating and shopping options nearby. The Houston Chronicle recently cataloged these problems, citing efforts by the City to help alleviate the problems.

Click here to read about the Payday Lending ordinance and why it is in jeopardy!

Early voting begins

The Houston Chronicle notes that early voting for December 14th’s municipal runoff election has officially begun. I have yet to receive my absentee ballot, though I have three layers of confounding incompetent bureaucracy (Harris County Clerk, US Postal Service and my university’s mailroom) to deal through, so I have faith it is somewhere between Houston & Boston at press time.

The incumbents in the top two municipal elections (Mayor Annise Parker and City Controller Ronald Green, respectively) were both re-elected outright last month, meaning that only an assortment of City Council races will be on next Saturday’s ballot. Specifically, at-large Positions #2 and #3, as well as Districts A, D & I. There are also a few HCC Trustee races with runoff elections, though these only cover a portion of the City.

Click here to read summaries of all the runoff elections!

Chronicle runoff endorsements

Over the past few days, the Houston Chronicle has offered up its endorsements in each of the five runoff elections. In At-large #2, District A and District I, the paper’s original selections (David Robinson, Brenda Stardig and Graciana Garces, respectively) advanced into runoffs. However, in At-large #3 and District D, the paper’s original selections (Rogene Calvert and Anthony Robinson) did not advance. Accordingly, much like Texpatriate has been doing, it has revisited these races to select another candidate.

First, the Chronicle endorsed frontrunner Dwight Boykins in District D. The editorial lauded his strong ties within the district, as well as his ‘second chance program,’ which aims to alleviate both unemployment and crime by putting former (non-violent) convicts back to work for the City within the District. The rationale was similar to what the Texpatriate Editorial Board said not too long ago, when we endorsed Boykins.

The editorial also gave a favorable shout-out to Boykins’ opponent, Georgia Provost, writing that she would make a decent Councilmeber. What was not mentioned, however, were some of Provost’s recent –and rather distasteful– ads and campaign tactics.

Click here to read about who the Chronicle endorsed in At-large position #3!

Texpatriate endorses in District A runoff

When this board first examined District A in October, we split 2-2 on who would be the best choice in the election for the voters and constituents of the district. What we were unanimous on, however, was that Councilmember Helena Brown needed to be replaced. Accordingly, this board endorses Brenda Stardig for District A.

As we wrote last month, District A holds a special place in our hearts, as a majority of Texpatriate‘s contributors have, at one time, represented the area on the Houston Mayor’s Youth Council. During this time, we saw the District in the capable and competent hands of then-Councilmember Brenda Stardig, who held the post from 2010 to 2012.

Click here to read the entire endorsement!

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!

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!