Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Who Can Liberals & Progressives Support In 2011 City Of Houston Elections?—Who Is Running For Houston City Council?

It is time for our Houston municipal elections.

(Above–Houston City Hall.)

Early voting runs October 24-November 4. General Election Day is November 8.

Here is a link to help you find out where to vote.

Who can a liberal or progressive support in these elections?

As is so often the case in Houston, the pickings are slim.

Houston city elections are low-turnout affairs in which an electorate not representative of Houston’s demographics chooses from candidates who discuss a very narrow range of issues. Just how much is it that can we hear about red light cameras?

The credibility of the candidates on the ballot is often judged by how much money they have raised.

Here is my look at the Houston city ballot and, also, some additional links to help you figure out how you’d like to vote.

Houstonians merit liberal and progressive options at the ballot box.

Houston was a 61% Obama city in 2008. If we can’t muster up some decent candidates, then maybe we should use our political energies to support Occupy Houston.

While we should vote in every election, the energy and hope we are seeing from the Occupy Wall Street movement is more positive  and hopeful than anything occurring in our municipal elections.

Here are my endorsements—

Mayor-–I’m leaving my ballot blank for Mayor. I simply don’t believe Mayor Annise Parker has any consistent commitment to progressive values. Good people will disagree, but the Mayor has had two years to offer leadership on pressing issues of poverty and on the lack of broad political participation in Houston. She seems to have little interest in these subjects.

Mayor Parker is likely to win reelection in 2011. The absence of competent and credible opponents, and her campaign war chest of more than $2 million helps make this so. Yet despite her good electoral outlook for 2011, the Mayor is concerned with winning a strong majority of voters in 2011 so as to strengthen her hand with City Council, and to help her fend off challengers in 2013.

I’ve no desire in helping the Mayor accomplish these goals. No matter what percentage of votes cast in 2011 Annise Parker ends up  winning, it will be done with an overall turnout of somewhere between 10% and 15%. There is no way the Mayor will have a credible mandate from an involved public. Why should Mayor Parker be given the illusion of a mandate when she has never engaged in serious grassroots efforts to expand voter turnout in Houston, and when she does not pursue policies that are inclusive of Houstonians of every economic status?

(Update 10/31–Mayor Parker has received a grade of A- for fiscal conservatism from the Texas Conservative Review. I say again that Mayor Parker does not warrant the support of liberals and progressives.)

(Below–Recent picture of ongoing drought in Houston as seen in Memorial Park. The grassroots have dried up. Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino)

Council At-Large #1–Incumbent Stephen Costello plays all sides of the political aisle while Green Don Cook does not work hard in his campaigns. Mr. Costello’s Renew Houston plan addresses the serious issue of flooding in Houston, but is also regressive in how it is funded and makes little effort to include green solutions in the plan. I’m leaving my ballot blank in this race.

Council At Large #2–I’m supporting Jennifer Rene Pool in this 10 candidate race.  She will occasionally say liberal and progressive things. Maybe she means some of them.

Council At-Large #3–Incumbent Melissa Noriega is a thoughtful person and has my support.

Council At-Large #4–Green Amy Price is an energetic and upbeat. She works hard to learn the issues and will be a councilmember who seeks solutions and who listens. Incumbent Democrat C.O. Bradford has on his balance sheet his terrible administration of the crime lab when he was Houston’s police chief, and his calls for austerity-type budgeting for Houston.

Council At-Large #5–Only you know if you want to support Jolanda Jones for one last term. She is always involved in some type of fuss. Sometimes it seems to be her fault, while other times it is not her fault. In any case, you wish that Ms.Jones was a more disciplined and effective advocate for the poor and disenfranchised in Houston. Her story on Council seems in good part to be of an opportunity missed. After some thought, I’ve decided I’m going to vote for Ms. Jones.  Ms. Jones made a recent visit to Occupy Houston and I appreciate that fact. I’m not aware of any other incumbent city official who has done the same.

Council District C-–I live in this district. Karen Derr is a more progressive option than Ellen Cohen. I’m going to be voting Ms. Derr. Ms. Cohen is a fund-raising machine who in the recent past has accepted campaign funds from gay marriage opponent Bob Perry. I’d rather have a fresh voice in City Hall rather  than a candidate who seems to have the advantage in part due to her friendship with Mayor Parker, and in part due to her ability to raise a lot of money from big donors. Ms. Cohen gives the impression of being an incumbent even before she is elected.

Council District H–I don’t live in this district. However, incumbent Ed Gonzalez merits mention as a decent person and as someone open to hearing voices on all sides of a debate.

There are also 10 amendments to the Texas Constitution on the ballot. Here is my in-depth analysis of these propositions.

There are 2 resources that stand out when considering our city elections. These resources cover all the Houston district council seats up for election in 2011.

Houston blogger Charles Kuffner has a page at his blog Off The Kuff with his interviews of many of the candidates. This page also has links to the websites of the candidates and listings of selections by the various interest groups that endorse in city elections.

The League of Women Voters of the Houston Area offers a voter’s guide that profiles and asks questions of all the Houston candidates.

Fellow blogger Perry Dorrell at Brains And Eggs has made a series of excellent posts endorsing candidates in Houston for 2011.

Greg Wythe at Greg’s Opinion has also made some well thought-out endorsements.

Houston city elections often seem to be a taxpayer-financed subsidy for a political class of consultants, city contract seekers, and all-purpose opportunists who all have little do with everyday life in Houston.

That said, you should still go and vote. I don’t have the heart to tell you otherwise.

The work of freedom and democracy is up to each of us.

Vote in Houston in 2011 and then commit yourselves to making our local democracy better.

(Below–Houston skyline in 1971. Photo by YixilTesiphon. Here is a link to a history of Houston.) 

Advertisements

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Councilman Ed Gonzalez Should Help Clean 1218 Shepherd Drive

GonzalezPhoto

Above you see the Ed Gonzalez for Houston City Council sign located at 1218 Shepherd Drive in Houston.

Mr. Gonzalez is the District H member of Houston City Council. He is running this November to keep his seat on council. 

I’ll assume that Councilman Gonzalez and the Gonzalez campaign got permission from the property owner to attach that sign to that fence. I’m certain the campaign did not just come around and stick a sign up on vacant property.

So even though–of course–the sign has been placed there legally, I wonder why Mr. Gonzalez does not report this property to the city for possible citation. This location is a public eyesore! (Please click here to see all the litter behind the fence at this address.) 

Though I do suppose reporting the property would be a knife-in-the-back of the property owner. Maybe the Gonzalez campaign could pay back the  owner for his or her loyal support by offering to clean the area behind the fence.

Maybe Gonzalez campaign volunteers could walk this stretch of Shepherd and make it nicer for all the people of Houston.  

For the moment however, what you see is the Gonzalez for Council campaign as it is represented at 1218 Shepherd Drive.

July 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Houston’s District H Council Race Makes Me Ill

As part of a determined effort to kill my blog traffic, I’m going to write again about Houston’s Council District  H runoff election.

District H held a special election last week to fill a council vacancy.  In this election, the district’s educated Anglo voters in the Heights neighborhood teamed up with the district’s politically underrepresented Hispanic voters to generate a turnout of something like 5 %. 

( Here is a story about people in India voting despite attacks from Maoist guerrillas.) 

Because who cares?

As long as you can send your own kid to a Montessori pre-school who gives a shit if the Latino kid a few miles away has limited prospects in life?

Just because you’ve been treated like crap for hundreds of years doesn’t  mean you should change that fact. Stay home! Why not?!?  

The District H race last week offered voters the chance to put a second Latino Councilmember on Houston City Council. Houston is a 40% Latino city with one Hispanic Councilmember out of 14 members.

The upcoming runoff offers voters the same chance to elect a Hispanic.

Now one should not vote for someone just based on ethnic group. But ethnic loyalty in minority communities is often a factor in how people vote in these communities. Political representation is a visible and important symbol that ethnic groups have arrived as important participants in urban politics.

Is there unity among Hispanic Democrats in Houston?

That’s crazy talk! 

My fellow blogger Charles Kuffner writes today about a defeated Hispanic challenger in District H endorsing runoff candidate Maverick Welsh over opponent Ed Gonzalez. 

Maybe the endorsement was based fully on a weighing of the merits of each contender, but it seems quite likely that factional disputes among Hispanic Democrats played some part in the endorsement.

These factional disputes go back many years in Houston’s Hispanic community. The people involved in these disputes for all these years should reflect on the harm they have done to a community they say they are serving.

I don’t live in District H. With both candidates being Democrats, I don’t care who wins the June 13 runoff. I write about it because the whole thing makes me sick on a variety of levels.

People should turn out to vote. People should care who governs their city. People should have some sense of loyalty and respect for each other in gaining a political foothold in a city. That’s what people do in a normal healthy city and community.

Here is the link for Maverick Welsh.

Here is the link for Ed Gonzalez 

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Houston District H Council Race—Nobody Gave A Damn

Last week there was a special election to fill a vacant seat in Houston City Council District H.

Of 93,000 eligible voters, around 4,200 people showed up.

This despite the fact that at stake was the chance to add a second Hispanic to council. There is only one Hispanic on council despite the fact that something like 40% of our people in Houston are Hispanic.

Local bloggers Charles Kuffner and Marc Campos suggested an issue in the outcome of the race was the location of early voting centers.

Here is Mr. Kuffner’s comment. 

Here is what Mr. Campos had to say.

Now in a narrow sense the location of the voting machines may have impacted the outcome of the race. But that is missing the larger story.

When you get 7% turnout the issue is not early voting locations, it is the fact that nobody cared about the election.

It’s a culture within the city as a whole that says who serves on City Council does not matter. It’s years of infighting within the Hispanic political class that have helped hold back the advancement of Hispanic political power.

It is campaigns that fail to motivate voters. It’s minority elected officials okay with low voter turnout because they can be elected every two years without real opposition.

It’s a Democratic Party as a whole that is content with how things are even as they count on strong minority support. It’s a Republican Party that has demonized people because they are different from most Republican voters. 

After 11 years here, I’ve still yet to grasp the acceptance of the terrible turnout in our city elections. Mr. Kuffner does more than his bit to increase civic involvement and improve the quality of life in Houston. But as a general matter—and in many regards— it is remarkable what we accept in  Houston as normal.

The two remaining candidates in District H are Maverick Welsh  and Ed Gonzalez. 

If you live in District H please consider these two candidates and vote in the runoff.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment