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Brian Cweren

Chron overview of District C

The Ashby Highrise is casting its shadow over the race for the open seat in District C.

Even with substantially redrawn boundaries, which in January will extend from north of Loop 610 down through the Heights and south to the Braeswood area, District C still is ground zero for the battle over height regulations. After a two-year dormancy, plans for the 23-story Ashby high-rise have been revived as apartments instead of condos.

[Ellen] Cohen called the Ashby high-rise a “poor idea,” but said the city must be fair to developers who follow city rules and not “move the goalposts” by changing rules midstream. She also produced a 2007 “Dear Neighbor” letter she wrote as a legislator in which she urged then-Mayor Bill White and the council “to do everything within their power to stop this development.”

Most of the other candidates followed Cohen’s two-pronged answer of personally opposing the project, but warning against being arbitrary with development regulations.

The Ashby sure is the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it? If by “gift” you mean “political pain in the ass for which there is no solution”, anyway. Barring anything unusual, this thing is going to get built one way or another. The only thing for a candidate to talk about is what if anything they’d do to affect or prevent the next such unwanted-by-its-neighbors project.

Anyway. I did interviews with four of the five candidates in District C:

Ellen Cohen
Brian Cweren
Karen Derr
Joshua Verde

The conventional wisdom on this race is that it’s Cohen’s to lose. She’s got a lot going for her – strong fundraising, name ID, etc – but her opponents are pretty good too, and they’re certainly not conceding anything. I see a lot of yard signs in the district – most of them in actual yards, thank you very much – and I’d say Cohen is winning that competition, at least in the parts of the district I tend to travel through, followed by Derr and then Cweren. The 30 Day reports are up for the four that I interviewed: Cohen, Derr, Verde, and Cweren; as noted before, Cohen once again lapped the field. What are your thoughts on this race?

Interview with Brian Cweren

Brian Cweren

We wrap up our tour of District C with the candidate who ran for Council here before it was reconfigured. Brian Cweren was a candidate in C the last time it was open, back in 2005, finishing fifth but only a few points out of the money in a field of seven. Cweren is a graduate of UT Law School and runs his own law firm, and has been appointed to the City of Houston Ethics Committee and the City of Houston Police Department Citizen Review Committee, where he served as its Chair. Here’s our conversation:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle, plus other related information, on my 2011 Elections page.

Don’t claim endorsements you don’t have

Seems like that lesson needs to be re-learned every cycle. We already have two examples of it this cycle. Here’s example one:

City Council candidate Eric Dick apologized for advertising an upcoming fund-raiser by sending out a mailer featuring a photo of Sheriff Adrian Garcia standing with Dick in front of City Hall.

“I didn’t mean that to suggest that he’s endorsing or that he’d be at the fundraiser,” Dick said. “I’m sorry if he didn’t want it in there.”

He didn’t.

And here’s example two, from Bill White’s Facebook page:

Houston City Council District C candidate Brian Cweren placed my photo in a local weekly, beside the words “I’m backing Brian.” Well, no. I never talked to him about the race, but I have talked about city issues with another candidate, my friend Ellen Cohen, a public servant with integrity. There will be “big shoes to fill” in that district when Ann Clutterbuck leaves. Mr. Cweren also had run against her.

Houston Politics noted it a few days later. I take both candidates at their word when they say they didn’t mean to imply anything, and I’m sure that this will be forgotten long before November. But please, all of you people who aren’t candidates for something yet, take note. This isn’t that hard to figure out.