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Reply From 295th Harris County District Court Candidate Paul Simon About Campaign Letter

Two days ago, I ran a post on the blog about a letter I got from 295th Harris County District Court primary Candidate Paul Simon. The letter was in Spanish. My guess was that I got the letter because my last name is Aquino. Aquino sounds Hispanic, but in my case is Italian.  My feeling is that this assumption I speak Spanish based on my name is a kind of profiling that would not be welcome if practiced by a police officer in a criminal case.

The Texas Democratic Primary is on this upcoming Tuesday.

Mr. Simon saw my post and offered the reply you see below—

Dear Mr. Aquino,

I learned today that you posted a blog about a letter you received from my campaign. I understand that you were offended by it, and for that, I am sincerely sorry. But I also wish to explain to you what I did and why I did it, and if you email me at (xxxxxxx), I will give you a number where you can call me so we can talk in person.

Before beginning, I should note that, about a week ago, I ran into Rick and Melissa Noriega. They also received my letter, and Rick was complimentary of my effort at trying to reach Latino voters, who are obviously a large, but underrepresented, segment of our country, particularly here in Texas.

Now, as for the “what” I did. What you should have received from me in the mail was an English and Spanish translation of my push-card, along with a list of the endorsements I have earned in this primary race, and information about Early Voting and where to go vote. If you only received a document translated into Spanish, that means something went wrong.

As for the “why,” I sent my mailer out because my practice consists mainly of representing Latino families, nearly all of whom are first generation immigrants who do not speak English or who do not speak English well. I decided to run for Judge in large part because of the racial insensitivity some judges have to litigants (like my clients) who sign contracts they do not know how to read after the other party to the contract fails to explain all of the important parts of the contract. In any case, when I asked those of them who regularly voted why they don’t vote the whole ticket, they sole reason I was told was because they don’t know anything about the candidates because they don’t receive anything from us down-ticket candidates in Spanish.

Obviously, one cannot know whether any particular voter is Spanish or English speaking, bilingual or otherwise, based solely on his or her surname, so when I was at a petition signing event on the East Side where I was told there would be a large number of voters who did not speak English (or who preferred to speak in Spanish), I had ready for them an English/Spanish version of my push card. But when it comes to sending out a mass mail piece, I did the best I could, and I am sincerely sorry for offending you.

I hope you will accept my apology and give me a call to talk more.

Warm regards,

Paul Simon, for Judge

295th Civil District Court


Mr. Simon’s opponent in this race is Reginald McKamie.

I appreciate Mr. Simon’s reply and his sincerity.  I remain of the view that one cannot make assumptions about people based on a name.

Maybe an issue here is the failure over the years of our local Democratic party here in Harris County to consistently reach out to all possible voters, and the willingness of  some office holders in low turnout districts to say nothing about the poor turnout as they cruise to reelection every two or four years. With a stronger infrastructure in place to reach Spanish speaking voters, candidates for down-ticket offices in Harris County would be better able to address these voters at campaign time.

Individual voters can assess this issue for themselves and vote as they will on March 2.

February 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment