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Arturo Aguilar

Chron overview of HCC Trustee races

As always, HCC Trustee races don’t get as much attention as they deserve.

Adriana Tamez

Adriana Tamez

Since the 2013 election put four new trustees – Zeph Capo, Robert Glaser, Dave Wilson and Adriana Tamez – on the board, one trustee, Carroll Robinson, has stepped down to campaign for city controller and two others – Chris Oliver and Sandie Mullins Moger – have launched bids for City Council seats.

Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, a real estate professional who attended HCC, took over Robinson’s seat in May and faces no challengers. John P. Hansen, a longtime Alief school board member, is uncontested in his bid for Moger’s seat on the board. If Oliver loses his council bid, he’ll remain on the HCC board; if he wins, the board will appoint a replacement.

Tamez and Eva Loredo, who has been on the board since 2009, each face challengers for their seats. This means that if Oliver wins his council race, longtime trustee Neeta Sane may be the only board member to have served longer than two years.

Eva Loredo

Eva Loredo

[…]

Tamez faces Florida “Flo” Cooper, a retired telecommunications consultant who ran unsuccessfully for a City Council seat in 2007. Cooper did not respond to multiple calls for an interview.

[…]

Loredo faces Art Aguilar, a Harris County sheriff’s deputy who ran unsuccessfully for constable in 2008. Aguilar, who did not respond to requests for an interview, is part of a slate of candidates that includes his sister, Diana Dávila, who is running for the Houston school board, and his brother-in-law Abel Dávila, a former HCC trustee now running for the City Council.

Cooper also ran for District D in 1997 against then incumbent CM Jew Don Boney, and in a special election for At Large #4 (eventually won by Chris Bell) in January of 1997. Aguilar is of course who Abel Davila tried to gift this Trustee seat to in 2009 via some last-minute filing shenanigans; Loredo won as a write-in candidate after Aguilar was forced to withdraw by the backlash. Neither is a serious candidate, which is why I highlighted their mentions in this article. Carolyn Evans-Shabazz and John Hansen are serious candidates, but both are unopposed – Moger won the position she is now departing as an unopposed candidate back in 2009 – and I just don’t like it when that happens for open seats. Be that as it may, my interview with Tamez is here and with Loredo is here. Both were endorsed by the Chron (and by most endorsing organizations), and both are worth your vote if you live in either district. Let’s please not elect any more accidental Trustees.

HISD and HCC finance reports

Here’s what we know, though it’s incomplete.

BagOfMoney

Fundraising among most HISD board members was slow during the first half of 2015.

Board president Rhonda Skillern-Jones, who plans to seek re-election to her District 2 seat this November, raised the most money this reporting period ($4,000) and has the most on hand ($8,195), according to the July campaign finance reports.

Three other board seats are on the ballot in November. Trustees Manuel Rodriguez Jr. (District 3) and Juliet Stipeche (District 8) have told me they plan to seek re-election. Trustee Paula Harris (District 4) has not returned messages, but she has raised no money and reports none on hand — a good sign she is not running again.

The first day to file the formal paperwork to be on the ballot was Saturday. Only one candidate, Ramiro Fonseca, who’s seeking the District 3 seat, had filed as of Monday morning. The last day to file is Aug. 24.

Three others have filed reports naming a campaign treasurer, indicating they were interested in running: Jolanda “Jo” Jones (District 4), Ann McCoy (District 4) and Darlene “Koffey” Smith (District 2).

July reports for all of the HISD and HCC Trustee candidates that I know of are now up on the 2015 Election page. Note that only reports for HISD incumbents are available through the HISD website. HCC posts non-incumbent candidate reports as well, and good on them for doing so. HISD, you need to do something about this.

Candidate Raised Spent Loans On Hand ================================================ Skillern-Jones 4,000 5,150 0 8,195 Rodriguez 3.325 808 0 2,856 Stipeche 0 5,733 0 9,884 Tamez 16,750 248 0 15,820 Evans-Shabazz 0 0 0 0 Hansen 200 1,826 5,000 3,374 Loredo 4,147 779 0 4,805 Aguilar 0 4,827 10,000 5,172

Compared to some of the other races we’ve seen, these are Dollar General to their Niemann Marcus. In HISD IV, everyone I’ve spoken to has told me that Paula Harris is not running for re-election. It’s annoying that the non-incumbent reports are not online, but they do exist in paper form, and Ericka Mellon was kind enough to track them down.

Former City Councilwoman Jolanda Jones has raised more than $8,100 in her run for the HISD school board, nearly twice as much as competitor Ann McCoy.

Jones’ contributions for the District 4 race include more than $2,800 from her council campaign. She served on the council from 2008 through 2011.

Community activist Larry McKinzie also has filed a campaign treasurer report to run for District 4 but did not submit the fund-raising report due July 15, indicating he had not raised money at that point.

[…]

In District 3, incumbent Manuel Rodriguez Jr. faces a rematch with Ramiro Fonseca. Rodriguez has more than $2,800 on hand. Fonseca has filed a treasurer report but said he has not raised funds yet.

In District 2, incumbent Rhonda Skillern-Jones, the board president, raised $4,000 during the last six-month reporting period. Darlene “Koffey” Smith, also running for District 2, has not raised any money but reports spending $1,800 that she intends to reimburse with donations. Youlette McCullough, who lists her nickname as “Baby Jane,” has filed a treasurer report for the District 2 seat, indicating her plans to run.

No word yet on whether HISD trustee Juliet Stipeche will face an opponent in the District 8 race.

There’s more at the link, so go check it out.

As for HCC, the only contested race so far is in my district, District 8, where first-termer Eva Loredo faces Art “brother-in-law of Abel Davila” Aguilar. John Hansen is running for the seat being vacated by Sandie Mullins Moger, Carolyn Evans-Shabazz was appointed to replace Carroll Robinson after he stepped down to run for Controller, and Adriana Tamez is running for a full term after winning the remainder of Mary Ann Perez’s term in 2013. I have heard that Dave Wilson plans to back some candidates for the Board, including Aguilar, but there are no other candidates as yet. His own finance report shows no funds raised or spent and nothing but an outstanding loan on hand; if he does play in any races I’m sure he’ll do it via a PAC, however, so don’t read too much into that. If you hear anything about that, let me know. Otherwise, not too much of interest here to report.

From the “Who not to vote for” files, part 1

AbelDavilaMDMailer

The embedded image is a scan of a mailer we got about two weeks ago. Abel Davila is a former HCC Trustee; his wife Diana, whom I had originally heard was interested in running for District H, is a former HISD Trustee. That makes him a credible candidate, but it doesn’t make him a good one. Davila was dogged by ethical issues while he was on the HCC board, and then he attempted to hand off the office to his brother-in-law, Art Aguilar, via some last-minute filing-deadline-day shenanigans; Aguilar subsequently withdrew his filing in the wake of the blowback, thus letting Eva Loredo win as a write-in candidate with no other names on the ballot. See here, here, and here for the details.

As for Davila’s tenure at HCC, here are a Chron stories to fill you in. From the second story:

In a statement read by chairman Richard Schechter, the board also publicly condemned the actions of two former trustees, Abel Davila and Diane Olmos Guzman, and criticized what the investigator found to be a minor mistake regarding the appearance of a conflict of interest involving current trustee Chris Oliver.

Schechter said the investigation portrayed Flores and Davila as the most egregious offenders, with the two appearing “to have been engaged in a relentless pattern and practice of conduct designed to enrich at a minimum their family and friends.”

Davila, through an attorney, previously has denied wrongdoing.

The investigative report accused Flores of enlisting Davila, the then-chairman of the HCC board, to use his influence over a vendor to hire a construction company co-run by Flores’ son. The company connected to Flores received nearly $163,000 from the vendor between December 2008 and October 2009, according to the investigative report.

So yeah. I don’t want that on Council, and I especially don’t want that from my Council member. There are three other good candidates in District H – Roland Chavez, Jason Cisneroz, and more recently former HISD Trustee Karla Cisneros. I don’t know which candidate I’m voting for yet, but I do know who I’m not voting for.

Oh, and the brother-in-law, Art Aguilar? He’s running for HCC 8, presumably for real this time. I’m not wedded to the idea of voting for Eva Loredo – in her 5 1/2 years as Trustee, I don’t believe I’ve received a single communication of any kind from her office, and she only recently created a personal Facebook page – but I’ll need a better alternative than Art Aguilar.

January campaign finance reports – HCC Trustees

There are nine trustees on the HCC board. With them serving six-year terms, in a normal year three trustees are up for re-election; 2013 was an abnormal year, with two extra races to fill out unexpired terms. We are back to normal this time, so we have three races. As with HISD, at this time all incumbents that are up are currently expected to run for re-election, and no opponents have emerged at this early date. Here are the incumbents in question.

Adriana Tamez, District III

Dr. Tamez won one of those two special elections from 2013, to fill out the term of Mary Ann Perez, who stepped down after winning in HD144 in 2012. The candidate she defeated in the runoff was one of two supported by Dave Wilson, so that was extra sweet. (Speaking of Wilson, he nominated himself for Board President at the start of this year, but had to withdraw after no one seconded him. Then, to add insult to injury, Zeph Capo, who defeated Wilson’s buddy Yolanda Navarro Flores in 2013, was elected Board President. Sucks to be you, Dave.) Tamez was elected Board Secretary for this year.

Sandie Mullins, District VI

Sandie Mullins, formerly Meyers, is serving her first term on the Board. She was elected in 2009 without facing an opponent to fill the seat formerly held by now-State Rep. Jim Murphy. (Mills Worsham was named to replace Murphy in 2007 after his initial election in HD133, then Worsham ran for Council in 2009 instead of a full term on HCC.) Like Murphy and her ex-husband, HISD Trustee Greg Meyers, Mullins is a Republican, one of two on the board along with you-know-who. She is herself an alumna of HCC, and serves or has served on a number of other boards.

Eva Loredo, District VIII

Under normal circumstances, Eva Loredo would not be on the HCC Board. She didn’t file for the race in 2009, against incumbent Abel Davila. No one did, and on filing deadline day Davila was expected to run unopposed for re-election. Except that he decided at the last minute not to run, and instead his brother-in-law Art Aguilar filed. That led to a medium-sized crap storm, which led to Aguilar’s withdrawal. Loredo had by then submitted paperwork to be a write-in candidate, with some assistance from the late Sen. Mario Gallegos, and with no other candidate on the ballot, she won. She would be on the ballot this time.

As for finance reports, you may recall that as recently as 2011 it was damn near impossible to lay one’s hands on HCC Trustee finance reports. I claim a small measure of the credit for changing that situation. Be that as it may, the fact that these reports are now available online at this link doesn’t mean that they’re available in a timely fashion. Despite the fact that the city, the county, the school board, and the state all had theirs up within a day or so of the January 15 deadline, HCC still had nothing more recent than last July’s as of yesterday. So those are the totals I will include, pending them getting off their butts and updating this information.

Name Raised Spent Loans On Hand ==================================================== Tamez 7,150 15,392 7,000 610 Mullins 0 1,878 0 18,400 Loredo 0 492 0 2,004 Oliver 8,225 6,060 0 2,165

So there you have it. I’ve included the totals for Chris Oliver as well, since he is now running for Council. I’ll update all this in July, and ought to have my Election 2015 page up by then as well.

Endorsement watch: HCC trustees

The Chron endorses in the HCC Trustee races, which even I had forgotten they hadn’t yet done.

In the westside District VI, Sandie Meyers is unopposed as the replacement for incumbent Robert Mills Worsham.

In District III, which stretches from near southeast Houston to Beltway 8, the Chronicle endorses one-term incumbent Diane Olmos Guzman , a public relations specialist and small business owner with a B.A. in journalism from the University of Houston.

I confess, I know exactly nothing about the District III race. I don’t recall seeing any endorsements being made in this one contested race by most of the usual endorsing organizations. Which, when you recall that these are for six-year terms that have no resign-to-run requirement, is a shame. Anyone have any thoughts about this one?

Outgoing District VIII incumbent Abel Davila embarrassed himself and HCC by leading constituents to think he was running for re-election to the central and eastside district, only to be a no-show at the filing deadline. His brother-in-law, Arturo Aguilar, filed instead but then dropped out of the race two days later.

Luckily, retired educator and community activist Eva Loredo had the foresight to register as a write-in candidate and is in position to pick up the pieces left by Davila and provide District VIII with a qualified representative.

That’s my district, which I hadn’t really realized till I got a mailer from Loredo over the weekend; I’ll have a scan of it up shortly. Your HCC Trustee district isn’t printed on your voter registration card – you need to find your registration online to see what district you’re in. She’s the first write-in candidate I’ve ever voted for, and may I say that’s a pain in the rear to do on the eSlate machine. Better than having to pay for a special election because there were no candidates on the ballot, though. I can’t wait to see how many votes she actually gets.

What happens now in HCC District 8?

As we know, after the filing-deadline shenanigans in the HCC Trustee District 8 race, brother-in-law candidate Arturo Aguilar said he was withdrawing from the ballot. As I noted at the time, that meant there were no other candidates who had filed before the deadline for that office. The question is what happens in that race?

First, are we sure that Aguilar can withdraw? If this were an even-numbered year and a partisan race, the answer would be No, as that deadline would be 74 days before the election. However, in this kind of race, Section 145.092 of the Elections Code applies:

Sec. 145.092. DEADLINE FOR WITHDRAWAL. (a) Except as otherwise provided by this section, a candidate may not withdraw from an election after 5 p.m. of the second day before the beginning of early voting by personal appearance.

(b) A candidate in an election for which the filing deadline for an application for a place on the ballot is not later than 5 p.m. of the 62nd day before election day may not withdraw from the election after 5 p.m. of the 53rd day before election day.

That makes the deadline to withdraw this Friday, September 11. Let’s assume Aguilar does so, if he hasn’t already.

Now again, if this were a general election for state or county office, and given that Aguilar’s was the only name on the ballot, there would be a prescribed procedure for replacing him; basically, the chairs of the county Republican and Democratic Parties would choose a replacement nominee by whatever internal process they have. Note that this only applies in the event of an otherwise uncontested race – had there been more than one candidate, then no replacements are chosen and whoever else was nominated from the other parties would duke it out. This was the Tom DeLay story in 2006.

But this isn’t that kind of an election. Here’s what the law says about Aguilar’s withdrawal, in Section 145.094:

Sec. 145.094. WITHDRAWN, DECEASED, OR INELIGIBLE CANDIDATE’S NAME OMITTED FROM BALLOT. (a) The name of a candidate shall be omitted from the ballot if the candidate:

(1) dies before the second day before the date of the deadline for filing the candidate’s application for a place on the ballot;

(2) withdraws or is declared ineligible before 5 p.m. of the second day before the beginning of early voting by personal appearance, in an election subject to Section 145.092(a);

(3) withdraws or is declared ineligible before 5 p.m. of the 53rd day before election day, in an election subject to Section 145.092(b); or

(4) withdraws or is declared ineligible before 5 p.m. of the 67th day before election day, in an election subject to Section 145.092(f).

145.092(b) is what applies here, so Aguilar’s name will not appear on the ballot. So far, so good, but that’s only half of the question. I do not see any statute that specifies a replacement procedure in the event that a candidate’s withdrawal leaves nobody on the ballot. So, given that Aguilar was the only candidate that filed on time, what happens if he withdraws? I can think of two possible explanations, assuming my interpretation of the law is correct up to this point:

1. There is no election for HCC Trustee in District 8, because there are no candidates on the ballot. In this case, I presume that once Abel Davila’s term expires, a vacancy will then be declared and a special election will be set, presumably for the next uniform election date in May of 2010. Which, given the possibility a special election to fill KBH’s Senate seat at the same time, could make that one of the more interesting special elections for an otherwise obscure office ever held. You know that I think that possibility is highly unlikely, but it could happen, so I mention it here.

2. The election takes place with no candidates appearing on the ballot, but with the option to write in a candidate’s name. According to Section 146.054, the deadline to file a declaration of write-in candidacy is “not later than 5 p.m. of the fifth day after the date an application for a place on the ballot is required to be filed”. I asked Hector DeLeon in the County Clerk’s office about this, and he confirmed my assumption that this means the fifth business day, and not fifth calendar day (which would have made the deadline 5 PM on Labor Day), in which case the deadline is 5 PM tomorrow, September 10. I presume Eva Loredo has filed her declaration of intent; I wonder if anyone else has.

I strongly suspect that option #2 is what will actually happen. I have a call in to the Secretary of State’s office to inquire about it. I’ll post an update when I get a response. Frankly, I don’t find either of these alternatives to be particularly appealing. The former allows for a real election, at the cost of up to six months’ vacancy of the office plus the financial cost of running the election, while the latter is basically a freak occurrence that will allow someone to be elected with a tiny minority of the total votes cast, but at least fills the seat in a timely fashion and saves the expense of a special election. Note here that since the deadline to file a declaration of intent to run as a write-in is Thursday, and the deadline to withdraw is Friday, we could theoretically wind up with a situation where there’s no candidate on the ballot and no write-in option. The only way out of that, as far as I can see, is scenario #1 above. There has to be a better way. Clearly, when Sen. Gallegos and his colleagues return to Austin in 2011, they’ll need to address this situation as well when they tweak the law to allow for an extension of the filing deadline when a to-be-unopposed candidate decides on the last day to not run.

So that’s my reading of this situation. If I’m incorrect about any of this, I hope someone will leave a comment and set me straight. As I said, when I hear back from the SOS, I’ll post an update.

Aguilar drops out of HCC Trustee race

I’m guessing the backlash for being a last minute candidate who also happens to be the brother-in-law of the suddenly-stepping-down incumbent must have been pretty strong, because Arturo Aguilar has decided to withdraw from the HCC Trustee race in District 8.

For all everyone knew, Abel Davila was planning to run for re-election to the Houston Community College Board of Trustees, which he serves as chairman.

That’s what he had told supporters and fellow officeholders, and that seemed to explain why he paid $30,000 for five prominent billboards featuring a photo of him and his wife, a Houston ISD trustee, along with the slogan “Partnering for Success.”

He had more than $50,000 in his campaign account as of the latest July accounting — a significant amount for a non-partisan, down-ballot race — and he had the support of other elected and community leaders.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the ballot. Davila never signed up. So when the deadline passed on Wednesday afternoon, the only candidate in the race for the District 8 spot was Arturo Aguilar, who submitted his ballot application 19 minutes before the cutoff.

Aguilar is the brother of Diana Davila, Abel’s wife. But Friday afternoon, the 34-year-old police officer said he is going to withdraw from the race. He did not explain why.

“It’s not in my best interest for me to run,” Aguilar said. “I don’t really want to say more than that. I will leave it as an open seat for those who are more interested.”

Oh, I think we know why Aguilar changed his mind. The rest of the story is quotes from State Sen. Mario Gallegos and the revelation of Eva Loredo as a write-in candidate, both of which I reported yesterday. What is not answered in this story is 1) does this mean Aguilar will not appear on the ballot; and 2) if so, can someone else be added, and under what procedures? I presume that if Aguilar’s name cannot be removed from the ballot that he intends to not take office, in which case there would be a special election to fill the seat. Perhaps some of Abel Davila’s no-longer-needed campaign funds can be used to help pay for that special election if that happens. Does anybody know what the relevant law is regarding who can be on the ballot for this situation?

All in the family, HCC-style

I noted last night and this morning that the HCC Trustee seat in District 8, which was left open at the last minute by Abel Davila, will be filled by his brother-in-law Arturo Aguilar. (Davila is married to HISD Trustee Diana Davila.) It turns out that Aguilar is not the only family member of an elected official who will be inheriting an open HCC Trustee seat. The candidate in District 6 is Sandra Meyers. Like Aguilar, a Google search for her yields basically nothing, but when I looked at her name this morning, I realized it rang a bell. Turns out, if you check the “About” page of HISD Trustee Greg Meyers, his wife’s name is “Sandie”. I have since confirmed that Sandie-wife-of-Greg Meyers and Sandra-soon-to-be-HCC-Trustee Meyers are one and the same. (Campos notes this as well; I figured this out before I saw his post.) And so she, like Aguilar, will walk into an elected position that has a six year term without being vetted by the public. Neither Meyers nor Aguilar has a campaign website I could find, and the Chronicle story that mentioned them was devoid of information beyond their names.

I’m sorry, but this stinks. Meyers, at least, was known to be a candidate before deadline day, and the seat she will occupy was known to be open for longer than that. I don’t know why no one else filed, but at least someone else had the chance. Aguilar got in under the wire when Davila pulled his last-minute retirement act. I have a problem with uncontested open seats, never mind ones that will be handed to the family members of current elected officials. That doesn’t serve democracy, or the interests of the constituents of those districts. And let’s not forget, the position of HCC Trustee has often been a stepping stone to candidacy for other offices. City Council candidates Mills Worsham (whose seat Meyers is getting) and Herman Litt are or were HCC Trustees. Yolanda Navarros Flores, who ran in the special election for District H, is a trustee. Jay Aiyer was a trustee before running for Council in 2005. Jim Murphy, who was succeeded on the Board by Worsham, won election as State Representative in 2006. With a six-year term and no resign-to-run requirement (something that State Sen. Mario Gallegos attempted to address this year), HCC Trustees get numerous opportunities to run for other offices without having to give up their existing gig.

I had a chat with Sen. Gallegos about this today. He was the one I’d heard talking about what had happened in District 8 last night, and to say the least he wasn’t happy about it. To sum up what Sen. Gallegos told me, he said he thought Davila had deceived his constituents and denied them the right to choose the trustee for themselves. He informed me he had no idea who Aguilar was – “I wouldn’t recognize him if he walked into my office right now, or anyone else’s,” he told me – even if Aguilar was Diana Davila’s brother (he is, I learned from another source) or Abel Davila’s sister’s husband. He noted that at least two other people had expressed an interest in filing for the seat, but decided not to run because everyone was supporting Davila. That support is now gone, and I can report that one of those people, a retired HISD principal and lifelong resident of Magnolia Park by the name of Eva Loredo, will file to run as a write-in candidate. I confirmed this with Ms. Loredo, so at least the people who are aware of her will have an option besides skipping the race. It’s better than nothing.

Finally, Campos and commenter JJMB in my earlier post note that something similar happened in HD132 back in 1992, when then-Rep. Paul Colbert stepped down on the day of the filing deadline, and now-Rep. Scott Hochberg, who worked for Colbert, filed in his stead. That was wrong, too, though at least Colbert and Hochberg weren’t related to each other, and the voters had to wait only two years to rectify the situation if they thought it warranted it. Hochberg, of course, is an outstanding State Rep, so the outcome was a good one. Maybe that’ll happen here, who knows? It just would have been nice for the voters to have a say in it, that’s all.

UPDATE: Just got a call from State Sen. Gallegos, who added that he has had a conversation with State Sen. Rodney Ellis, who is equally upset about what happened, and that the two of them plan to prefile legislation next November to allow for an automatic 24 to 48 hour extension of the filing deadline in the case of a non-partisan/non-primary election where an incumbent drops out or announces his or her retirement within 24 hours of the deadline. In other words, the next time this happens, filing for the office would be kept open for another day to allow other candidates to enter. He said a law like this already existed for primaries (Greg alluded to it in response to JJMB’s comment), and this would simply extend the concept to other elections. He said State Sen. John Whitmire was in Austin but he and Sen. Ellis would consult with him and get him on board as well. I think this is a great idea, and support its passage in the next legislative session.

UPDATE: Sandra Meyers’ website is SandieMeyers.com.

More on the lineups

Here’s the Chron story about the final filings to be on the ballot for city elections. As noted before, not a whole lot of surprises, but there are a couple of things worth mentioning:

Otis Jordan, president of the Houston Black Firefighters Association, who has been a frequent critic of the Houston Fire Department’s handling of allegations of racism and sexism among firefighters in recent months, filed to run against District D Councilwoman Wanda Adams, who also will face Larry McKinzie.

Interesting. I’m not sure if this is because HBFA has a beef against CM Adams, or if it’s just because that’s the district he lives in. More on Otis Jordan here and here.

In the Houston Community College System board, only one seat is contested: District 3, where incumbent Diane Olmos Guzman will face a challenge from Mary Ann Perez.

In District 6, the only candidate to file was Sandra Meyers. The lone candidate for District 8 is Arturo Aguilar.

As I said before, District 8 is currently held by Abel Davila, who apparently decided not to run for re-election. I hope there will be some kind of followup to give us more information about Arturo Aguilar (a Google search didn’t tell me anything), especially given how his name appeared on the last day for a seat for which it looked like Davila was going to run for re-election. I reported last night that I’d heard that Aguilar (whose name I hadn’t heard) was Davila’s brother-in-law. If that’s true, and he basically inherited this seat for free, that stinks. Does anyone know any more about this?