Ousted HCC Trustee Bruce Austin seeks recount

No surprise, but don’t hold out much hope.


Longtime Houston Community College Board Trustee Bruce Austin on Wednesday said he will request a recount after narrowly losing his District 2 seat to his challenger in Tuesday’s election.

Small business owner Dave Wilson was ahead of Austin by 26 votes, based on complete, but unofficial results. A candidate needs to garner a majority of the vote to win. Wilson had 50.1 percent, while Austin got 49.9 percent.

HCC officials must canvass the votes and declare them official before Austin can request a recount. The canvassing process usually takes four to five days.

The history of recounts, in HCC and other area races is not one that offers much hope to Bruce Austin. There are likely a few provisional and overseas ballots to add in, but it’s improbable there are enough of them to affect the outcome even if they all go for Austin. Barring anything unprecedented, this result will stand.

Austin, who was first elected in 1989, said Wilson won the predominantly black district, which covers parts of north and northeast Houston, by deceiving voters. Wilson, who is white, deliberately did not have pictures of himself on his campaign website and his campaign materials, said Austin, who is black.

“He never put out to voters that he was white,” Austin said. “The problem is his picture was not in the League of Voters (pamphlet) or anywhere. This is one of the few times a white guy has pretended to be black guy and fooled black people.”

Wilson called Austin’s remarks racist. Running a campaign without photos shouldn’t matter, he said, noting that his picture was posted on one of Austin’s campaign mailers.

Disguising one’s identity like that is dishonest, but hardly unprecedented, and fairly mild as campaign misbehavior goes. It’s also way, way down on the list of bad things about Dave Wilson, and reasons why no decent person should ever cast a ballot for Dave Wilson. Despite Wilson’s protests, I’m sure plenty of people were fooled. But if they were, a large share of the blame for that must fall on Bruce Austin’s shoulders. I don’t know what kind of campaign Austin ran, but if Austin didn’t make it clear to the voters that Dave Wilson is a terrible, hateful person that has no business being elected to anything, that isn’t Dave Wilson’s fault. And maybe the next time Dave Wilson runs for something, the Chronicle can write about it before the election, and mention at least in passing his long history of hatred and homophobia. Just a suggestion.

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5 Responses to Ousted HCC Trustee Bruce Austin seeks recount

  1. Pingback: Low information voters ... or dirty campaigning? - Christian Forums

  2. Ricardo Martinez says:

    I believe this is just proof that the notion of democracy being the best way of making decisions is flawed. These are the same voters who are expected to make decisions regarding our representatives on foreign policy, on healthcare, on banking, etc. and they couldn’t even be bothered to check out who it was they were voting for!

    That is why the United States was originally designed to be a Republic with Constitutional limits on democracy because these are the results of a pure democratic society.

    This is why the Constitution clearly says only those powers expressly given to the Federal Government are allowed and all other powers are given to the states.

    Because voters have better things to do with their time than to research every damn politician that comes around, like going to work, being with their family, making love to their significant other, etc.

  3. Mainstream says:

    It used to be the case that white politicians sent out mailers with photos of their black opponents, and the black opponents called foul. Indeed, in Voting Rights litigation, black advocates often point to the use of a black poltiician’s photo in political advertising as an indication that a community does not provide an equal opportunity for candidates preferred by black voters to win elections.

    This contest, and others over the past decade show how far Houston has come, and how unnecessary preclearance under the Voting Rights Act has become. Black politicians routinely post their own photographs on their own advertising, and in the case of Austin and the HCDP, post photos of the candidates so voters can identify their race. Black politicians also use a dual system of yard signs, with the ones in white neighborhoods without their photo, and the ones in black neighborhoods proudly displaying the photo.

    I cannot think offhand of another district locally, in recent memory, in which a black-preferred candidate has lost a majority black district. (The last case I recall was when Clyde Lemon won over another black candidate, but he got significant black support. Similarly Garnet Coleman 20 years ago won his first election with a minority of black voters, but overwhelming white support against Jew Don Boney.) And until we see precinct level results, I am not even clear that Austin is the candidate preferred by black voters in that district. A decade ago, no district with 43% black CVAP had ever elected a candidate who was not preferred by the black voters in that district. So the Wilson victory is unique in many ways.

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