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February 6th, 2020:

Interview with Kristi Thibaut

Kristi Thibaut

We come to the end of our candidate journey in Harris County Precinct 3. I’ve run out of facts to give about Steve Radack and the Republican history of the Court, so here’s a Houston Public Media story about the race to replace Radack to tide you over. I will note that while there are six names on the Democratic primary ballot for Commissioners Court Precinct 3, each of the four candidates I’ve spoken to mentioned that only the four of them are really running, a fact that story corroborates. Kristi Thibaut is out fourth candidate in this series. She served one term in the Legislature in the 2009 session before getting swept out in the 2010 Republican wave. Thibaut is an education activist who co-founded Parents for Full & Fair Funding of Texas Public Schools and currently serves on the Board of the Spring Branch Education Foundation. Here’s what we talked about:

The Erik Manning spreadsheet is back! You can track information for candidates on the Harris County ballot here.


Elisa Cardnell – CD02
Travis Olsen – CD02

Michelle Palmer – SBOE6
Kimberly McLeod – SBOE6
Debra Kerner – SBOE6

Chrysta Castañeda – RRC
Kelly Stone – RRC

Vince Ryan – Harris County Attorney
Ben Rose – Harris County Attorney
Christian Menefee – Harris County Attorney

Ann Harris Bennett – Harris County Tax Assessor
Jolanda Jones – Harris County Tax Assessor

Ann Johnson – HD134
Ruby Powers – HD134
Lanny Bose – HD134

Akilah Bacy – HD138
Josh Wallenstein – HD138
Jenifer Pool – HD138

Sarah DeMerchant – HD26
Lawrence Allen – HD26
Rish Oberoi – HD26
Suleman Lalani – HD26

Rodney Ellis – Commissioners Court, Precinct 1

Diana Martinez Alexander – Commissioners Court, Precinct 3
Michael Moore – Commissioners Court, Precinct 3
Morris Overstreet – Commissioners Court, Precinct 3

Judicial Q&A: Cheryl Elliott Thornton

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates.)

Cheryl Elliott Thornton

1. Who are you and what are you running for?

I am CHERYL ELLIOTT THORNTON, candidate for Judge of the 164th Civil Judicial District Court. I am a native Houstonian who has practiced primarily civil law for about 33 years. I attended Lamar High School in Houston, Texas and received my BA from Trinity University and my MA from St. Mary’s University both in San Antonio, Texas. I received my JD from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. I am married to Peter Thornton, my campaign manager and retired professor from Texas Southern University.

2. What kind of cases does this court heat?

This is a civil court which hears cases with damage claims from $200 to ad infinitum. It is the trial court of general jurisdiction for most civil cases. In Harris County this court hears such cases as personal injury, employment, election, property, contracts and civil cases which are not otherwise assigned to other civil courts.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for this particular bench at this time because I was asked by several dignitaries to run since the sitting judge has been indicted and suspended from the bench. They all know me as a person who has chosen to be a public servant in her avocation as well as her occupation and believe that I would be the person who could best bring back character, excellent experience the community can trust.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have practiced law for over 33 years. Currently, I serve as Senior Assistant County Attorney for Harris County. I have served as an Administrative Law Judge and Hearing Officer for the State of Texas. Further, I have the administrative capabilities necessary to run a court as evidenced by my experience as General Counsel for Texas Southern University and as an Assistant
Attorney General for the State of Texas. I also have State of Texas certification as a Mediator and Ad Litem and have received legal training at Harvard University through the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

Further, in my community I have served as Precinct Chair, Senate District 13 General Counsel, Executive Board of my Homeowner’s association and General Counsel for the World Youth Foundation. I also served as Chair on the Houston Bar Association’s Gender Fairness Committee for which I received the President’s Award and the Houston Bar Association’s Judicial Polls Committee. I additionally serve on the Houston Lawyer Referral Service Board as its Treasurer. And to name just a few more of my community involvement activities which demonstrates my belief in public service, I am a member of the Texas District and County Attorney Association, Houston Lawyer’s Association, Harris County Democratic Lawyers and Women Professionals in Government. I have also successfully fundraised for the United Negro College Fund, The University Museum at Texas Southern University, The Museum of Fine Arts Advisory Association and the Houston Ebony Opera Guild.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is so important because, again, this community, Harris County, has to define who it is. In the past our community has defined itself as accepting of improper, possibly illegal and pronounced unethical behavior. I don’t think this is the route we are choosing again. I believe this time that we will choose a person of CHARACTER, EXCELLENCE, EXPERIENCE you can TRUST. I think we will choose CHERYL ELLIOTT THORNTON.

6. Why should people vote for you in the March primary?

The people should vote for me because I not only have the needed legal skills as shown above, but I also possess the social skills needed to properly service the people that come before this court as evidenced by my involvement in my community. I have one opponent who has proven that she does not possess the ethical qualifications to be in office as evidenced by the board of judicial conduct that suspended her from the very bench we are running for. I have another opponent who retired in 2010 and has now come out of retirement to seek this bench. I think Harris County deserves more. It needs a person involved in her community, a diversified practitioner of the law, and a person experienced with all the types of people that come before her court and can, therefore, serve as more than a jurist. The voters should vote for me, a public servant with over 33 years of legal and community experience, who has the judicial temperament to be Judge of the 164th Judicial District Court. The voters should vote for me CHERYL ELLIOTT THORNTON- a person of CHARACTER, EXCELLENCE, EXPERIENCE you can TRUST.

Will we get full Presidential primary results from Texas on primary night?


As their counterparts in Iowa reel from a disastrously slow election returns process, Texas Democrats raised the prospect Wednesday that a change in the way Texas reports election results could delay the final tally of delegates won by presidential hopefuls in the upcoming March 3 primary past election night.

Officials with the Texas Democratic Party said they were recently told by the Texas Secretary of State’s office that it will not be able to provide on election night the numbers needed to allocate a majority of the 228 delegates up for grabs in the state on Super Tuesday. In a Jan. 23 meeting, the Democrats said, top state election officials cited limitations to their revamped reporting system, which is used to compile returns from the state’s 254 counties.

“They basically said that’s not built out yet,” said Glen Maxey, the special projects director for the Texas Democratic Party who attended the meeting with state officials.

Late Wednesday, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, which initially had not responded to The Texas Tribune’s questions about the issue, contested that characterization, saying that “any allegations that delegate allocations will not be reported on election night are categorically false.”

At issue are 149 delegates that will be won by Democratic presidential candidates through a complex formula that divvies up those delegates based on the distribution of votes in each of Texas’ 31 state Senate districts. Maxey said he and other officials were told the state initially will collect election returns at the county level but not at the senatorial district or precinct level, which are needed to calculate how many delegates each candidate picks up. Party officials were told those more detailed numbers would be made available “the next day or so,” Maxey said.

In an email, agency spokesman Stephen Chang said the secretary of state’s office does plan to collect and publicly report votes for president at the Senate district level “in the same fashion” as previous primaries.

“In previous primaries, including the 2016 primary election, delegate allocations for both of Texas’ major parties on election night have been approximate allocations based on data self-reported by the counties,” Chang said. “The delegate allocations will be reported in the same fashion for the March 3rd primary election.”

An earlier version of the story did not yet have the response from the SOS office, so the answer to the question was looking like No. Part of the reason for this is that those delegates are doled out by Senate district, according to a formula that you can learn more about at the links in the story. Senate districts are of course all gerrymandered up, with many of them spanning multiple counties, so you can’t calculate the official delegate count until you have complete counts from all those counties. That could certainly make for a late night, but a reasonable estimate ought to be doable in the evening. If things are close, the allocations could be muddled, and there may not be a clear winner of the most delegates. In theory at least, we’ll have something. Hope for the best but be prepared for a late night. Still gotta be better than Iowa, right?

Texas blog roundup for the week of Feburary 3

The Texas Progressive Alliance admits that it has done everything to bring you this week’s roundup, but doesn’t see anything wrong with it.