Texpatriate endorses in At-large position #3

When it comes to elected officials on the City Council, Councilmember Noriega is the dean of the delegation. She also happens to have the most experience. First elected in the middle of 2007, Noriega has served the community well in her six and a half years of service on the City Council. This November, five candidates, four we have deemed worthwhile, will be running to replace her.

This board did not reach a majority conclusion in this race, though we have unanimously eliminated one candidate from consideration: Roy Morales. Mr Morales is a perennial candidate, who has run for too many offices to count. The only office he ever successfully won, on the Harris County Board of Education, was done so because of the lack of opposition–he was unopposed. However, instead of spending even a moment’s notice on educational concerns, Mr Morales simply continued to run for other offices. Other than towing the line of the Republican Party, Mr Morales offers no unique leadership, plans or opinions reflecting the needs of our City. Accordingly, this board strongly recommends against casting a vote for him.

Accordingly, Texpatriate will not endorse in At-large position #3, but three members of this board have selected their respective endorsements. Our reasoning is listed below the jump.

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Texpatriate’s Questions for Jenifer Pool

Editorial note: This is the twenty-fourth 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.


Jenifer Pool, Candidate for the Houston City Council at-large Position #3

Texpatriate: What is your name?
JP: Jenifer Rene Pool

T: What is your current occupation?
JP: Business Owner

T: Have you run for or held public office before?
JP: Yes. City Council 2011

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)?
JP: Democrat

T: Open seats typically attract countless candidates. Why are you specifically running for this seat?
JP:  Having run for an At-Large position in 2011, my campaign was designed for Citywide. Melissa Noriega has been a friend and good progressive and I want to maintain the progressive status of this seat.

T: Are you in contact with the incumbent Councilmember for this position? Would the two of you have a good relationship for a possible transition?
JP: Yes and yes.

T: What do you hope to get out of serving on the City Council?
JP: Opportunity to serve and be a strong voice for those citizens who feel they have not been heard; thus making the City better where it matters

T: What is an ordinance you would introduce in your next term?
JP: One to make the City responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks; A non-discrimination ordinance;

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?
JP: Strong: LGBT Community
Leak [sic]: Religious Right Conservatives

T: What has been the most important thing you have learned in your campaign?
JP: It’s important to listen and truly hear what people are saying

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.

A Dick at the Parade (and a Hall)

This past Saturday night, I had the pleasure of attending the Houston Gay Pride Parade. The event has been an on-again, off-again tradition among members of my family since the very first parade, in 1979. You know, when the guys dressed up as nuns and danced the can-can on the roof of Mary’s Lounge. Anyways, I saw most all of the politicians one would expect to be there, but a few popped out as odd exceptions.

First, it is without surprise that Mayor Parker not only actively participated in the parade, but was one of the Grand Marshals. In fact, her car was the first in the parade line. Other politicians such as Sheila Jackson Lee, Jenifer Pool, David Robinson, Mike Laster, Stephen Costello, Alan Rosen and others were also present, to nobody’s surprise.

The biggest surprises of the evening were seeing both Ben Hall and Eric Dick represented at the parade. I have never known either of these men to be especially strong advocates of the LGBT community, so I decided to inquire as to if they have a newly found respect for gay rights. Specifically, I asked the two if this meant they supported gay marriage. Ordinarily, I do not hold positions on national issues against local candidates, but since they made on issue of it first, I will follow up on the matter.

First, I contacted Dr Hall’s campaign. I contacted his campaign a variety of ways, but one of them included Facebook. I enjoy communicating via Facebook because it automatically notifies you when the recipient of your message has opened the attachment. Accordingly, I can see that the message I sent was opened, and was purposefully not responded to. Normally, this would cause me to deduct points from the campaign, but I will make a special exception for matters pertaining to Hall’s social media accounts. As the saying goes, “he knows not what he does.” I assume there was some error in communication between members of the Campaign Staff that prevented an orderly response to my inquiry. I hope, after seeing this, I can get a clear and concise answer from the Hall campaign.

Then, there is Mr Dick’s campaign. Dick was very quick in returning my request for comment, and I had a long, interesting conversation with him on the issue. Out of respect for his campaign and my personal standards of confidentiality, I am not going to publish the conversation we had verbatim, apart from some select passages. However, I will discuss the general theme of what he had to say and why it is so troubling.

First, Dick repeatedly denied the notion that his campaign was represented at the Pride Parade, countering that it was his law firm. However, a cursory search for his law firm, http://dicklawfirm.com/, shows that Eric Dick himself is the only attorney who works for the firm. Obviously, the corporation “Dick Law Firm” is a separate legal entity from Dick personally and from the Dick for Mayor campaign, but politics works on “close enough.”

Next, despite at one point calling himself the “Montrose Republican,” Dick declined to definitely support gay marriage. From what seemed to be from more of Libertarian than traditional Conservative point of view, Dick solidly put himself in the 41% of the country that still opposes same-sex unions.

“To be clear, I support traditional marriage but question governments role in determining or defining marriage.”

He also repeatedly noted that he believes that the LGBT community should get more involved within the Republican Party. Though I find it odd that any LGBT people would want to get involved with a party that actively opposes their right to marriage.

Make no mistake, Eric Dick does not support gay marriage. While some of my colleagues believe that Mr Dick is only in the Mayoral election to advertise his law firm, I feel as though he has a legitimate political aspiration. That being said, the float in the parade may have been nothing more than just that–a publicity stunt.

I don’t mind for someone to have an opposing opinion of mine, but I do expect them to be consistent in their opinions and actions. It is the height of hypocrisy to participate in the gay pride parade yet not stand up when questioned about gay rights, specifically gay marriage. His statement come across, to me, in my humble opinion, as a whimpering sycophant, seeking the approval of the crowd but when directly questioned, equivocates as to his approval on the issue at hand.

For the record, it was Dick’s suggestion that I use his surname in the title.