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Kevin Mauzy

Chron overview of the County Clerk race

Here’s the Chron overview story of the County Clerk race between Democrat Ann Harris Bennett and Republican Stan Stanart to replace the retiring Beverly Kaufman. This is the bit that interested me:

Where Bennett and Stanart diverge is their approach to the job. Bennett, as a former legal assistant, researcher and court coordinator, said she has a better feel for the customer-service aspects of the job. Stanart makes his pitch as the man with the technology background to make more of the county courts’ work paperless, and as a tax fighter who will bring his conservative background to controlling costs. His website warns, “Stop socialism.”

Kaufman breaks it down this way: “She has a stronger courts background. He has a stronger technical background.”

The Republican incumbent is not endorsing a candidate. She endorsed Stanart’s opponent in the Republican primary election, Kevin Mauzy, her chief deputy.

Yes, that’s what we really need in the County Clerk’s office, someone dedicated to stopping the forces of socialism from…well, it’s not clear what, exactly. I don’t suppose such details really matter to Stanart.

I note that Kaufman has not endorsed Stanart. This is the second time he’s run for a countywide office, and the second time he’s defeated a more mainstream, establishment Republican in the primary; in 2008, he and Mike “Mister Debbie” Riddle, with the backing of Michael Wolfe, knocked off incumbent Harris County Department of Education trustees in March. Thankfully, they lost in November. More to the point, they ran behind most other Republicans on the ballot:

Candidate Office Votes Pct ============================================== Ed Emmett County Judge 600,311 53.15 Paul Bennetcourt Tax Assessor 586,727 51.50 Pat Lykos District Atty 563,431 50.21 Theresa Chang District Clerk 540,992 48.94 Mike Stafford County Atty 538,486 48.61 Mike Riddle HCDE Trustee 523,138 47.49 Stan Stanart HCDE Trustee 520,778 47.42 Tommy Thomas Sheriff 495,246 43.72

The low score by any GOP judicial candidate was 523,551 votes, for 47.52%, by Georgia Akers running for an unexpired term on Probate Court #1. I think it’s safe to say that neither Stanart nor Riddle had much crossover support, and in fact probably lost more Republican support to their Democratic opponents than anyone not named Tommy Thomas. We’ll see how that goes this year. What I know is that Stanart ran for HCDE Trustee in 2008 not because he had any ideas about being an HCDE Trustee but because he wanted to get elected to something so he could fight his fight against socialism. He may have some ideas about being County Clerk, but really, he’s running for the same reason as in 2008. Ann Harris Bennett, whose interview you can listen to here, is running because she wants to be County Clerk and to do the job of County Clerk. That’s pretty much what this race comes down to.

Emmett speaks about his county elections administrator proposal

County Judge Ed Emmett has a brief op-ed in the Chron to respond to some concerns about his proposal to study the possibility of an appointed elections administrator.

There have been several false statements made that an elections administrator would be appointed by Harris County Commissioners Court. As laid out by state law, an elections administrator is appointed and overseen by a commission of five members — the county judge, county clerk, tax assessor-collector and the county chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties.

The Chronicle editorial said, “The need for a nonpartisan election administrator in Harris County has become obvious.” And although partisan candidates for the office of tax assessor have made false and outrageous statements in an effort to politicize voter registration, many others from all across the political spectrum have told me they would like to see us consider such an office. Clearly, voters are tired of candidates who put their candidacies above the public good.

I also need to clarify an issue that those candidates have intentionally tried to muddy. Unfortunately, even the Chronicle editorial reflected this error. There has never been any intention to create the office of elections administrator before the November elections. As I said before and after the editorial was published, I personally would favor creating an office of elections administrator only if I believed it to be feasible and only would do so after Jan. 1, when elections for county judge, county clerk and county tax assessor-collector are over and the winners sworn in. That, I believe, would best ensure that the new elections administrator would reflect the desires of the voters of Harris County.

I appreciate that Judge Emmett wants to wait until after the November election to see if we want to take any further steps with this, but he didn’t address the Chron’s assertion that this proposal is only being made because Emmett’s preferred candidates lost their primaries. It’s not unreasonable to ask why this is being brought up now. Whatever the merits of this idea – and again, I’m willing to hear it out – it’s easy to believe we’d not be discussing it at all if Leo Vasquez and Kevin Mauzy were on the November ballot. If that’s not true, then show some evidence that this has been in the works, or at least under consideration, since before the March primaries. And if it is true, then be up front about it. If there really are a lot of people clamoring for a non-partisan elections administrator, then a straight-up admission by Judge Emmett that he thinks it would be preferable to any of the candidates running for either County Clerk or Tax Assessor ought to be a selling point.

Casey and the Chron on an elections administrator

Rick Casey sums up the recent proposal by County Judge Ed Emmett to consider adopting a non-partisan elections administrator for Harris County:

While Dallas and Tarrant counties have found it a source of electoral confidence and stability, Bexar County went through a dark period when one administrator was convicted of stealing about $50,000 in state funds, and another one, though clearly incompetent and lazy, couldn’t be fired because state law requires a 4⁄5 vote of the board, and unrelated politics kept the Republican county clerk from following the lead of the Republican county judge.

The commissioners court responded by abolishing the office and returning, for a time, to the old arrangement before it re-established the election administration office.

They agreed with Commissioner Lee: The leadership is more important than the structure.

Which is more or less how I feel about it, though I have a preference for it to be an elected office, because at least then the method of removing a poor administrator is well understood and doesn’t depend on any political oddities. As I said before, you can never truly eliminate the politics from something like this, which is why having these positions be elected is as good as anything.

I didn’t discuss the specific politics of Judge Emmett’s proposal when I wrote about this before because I just wanted to explore the idea itself. Yesterday’s Chron editorial did a good job of highlighting that aspect of it.

All too often it seems that Commissioners Court is making decisions that should be made by Harris County voters.

That’s why we are suspicious of the motives of Emmett and [County Clerk Beverly] Kaufman in pushing for the creation of an election czar who would be appointed by Commissioners Court and be overseen by a board that includes the judge, the county clerk, the tax assessor and representatives of both political parties.

In GOP party primaries this spring incumbent Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez, who Emmett helped appoint, was defeated by former County Treasurer Don Sumners, a tea party advocate who has criticized GOP commissioners in the past and would probably be a bigger nuisance for them than a Democrat. In the county clerk contest Kaufman supported her longtime chief deputy, Kevin Mauzy, but he lost to computer technician Stan Stanart. We wonder whether Emmett and Kaufman would be pushing for re-aligning election duties if their favorites were still in line to exercise those responsibilities.

It’s pretty hard to avoid the conclusion that no, we would not be talking about this at all if Vasquez and Mauzy were on the ballot. Which ought to be a good reason for you to vote for Ann Harris Bennett and Diane Trautman for County Clerk and Tax Assessor, respectively. I mean, if even Emmett and Kaufman think the Republican nominees aren’t up to the job, why should you? I’ll still be willing to discuss various ideas for changing how we do elections in Harris County, from combining voter registration and elections administration in one office to making all of those duties part of a non-partisan appointed office, after the election. But let’s see how the election goes first, if only to see if there’s still a sense of urgency about it.

Election results: Harris County

It was a bad day to be the establishment candidate for Harris County Clerk, let me tell you. Ann Harris Bennett crushed Sue Schechter for the Democratic nomination, winning with 63% of the vote. On the Republican side, wingnut Stan Stanart, who lost a 2008 race for the HCDE Board of Trustees after taking out a mainstream incumbent in that primary, won over 60% of the vote against Beverly Kaufmann’s hand-picked successor, Kevin Mauzy. Look for some scrambling to occur in both parties. I confess, I did not get to know Ms. Bennett, and did not see her victory coming. My bad on that one.

Meanwhile, Harris County Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez suffered the same fate as Victor Carrillo.

Don Sumners won the Republican nomination for county tax assessor-collector Tuesday, ousting incumbent Leo Vasquez on his promises to continue the anti-tax crusade that characterized his tenure as county treasurer in the 1990s.

Sumners campaigned on a slogan of “I was Tea Party before Tea Party was cool.”

As treasurer, he publicly criticized Commissioners Court for increasing the tax rate and was an outspoken opponent of a bond measure that approved hotel and car rental taxes to fund football, basketball and baseball stadiums.

Summers will face Diane Trautman. Let’s just say that these are two races I’d really like for the Democrats to win. Elsewhere, Gordon Quan won a convincing victory in the Democratic primary for County Judge, and Republican Chris Daniel won the nomination for District Clerk for the right to face extremely well-qualified Democratic incumbent Loren Jackson.

I’ll try to sort out the judicial races later. The other big result in Harris County was Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee winning easily in her primary.

As of late Tuesday, the veteran lawmaker had about 68 percent of the vote, fending off a challenge by [City Council Member Jarvis] Johnson that featured claims that Jackson Lee’s showboating style had impaired her ability to deliver for her hard-pressed inner city district.

Jackson Lee also defeated a political newcomer, Houston attorney Sean Roberts. Votes counted as of 10:30 p.m, showed she likely would face GOP challenger John Faulk, an accountant, in the predominantly Democratic district.

“The job is not finished. We promise you a fight in Washington to bring good health care to this district and to preserve NASA and the jobs that are ours,” Jackson Lee told supporters Tuesday night.

Faulk does appear to be the GOP winner. For purposes of comparison, there were 9,105 total votes cast in the GOP primary for CD18. Johnson collected 9,073 by himself in getting 28.33% against SJL.

In other Congressional news, we will have Roy Morales to kick around for a few more months, as the man who never met an election he didn’t like won the nomination in CD29 in a five-person field. He gets to be stomped by Rep. Gene Green in November before he decides what city race to pick for 2011.

Finally, Harris County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill is in a runoff with Ed Hubbard. That’ll be fun to watch.

Sue Schechter announces for County Clerk

Former State Rep. and Harris County Democratic Party Chair Sue Schechter has announced her intent to run for the to-be-open Harris County Clerk position next year. Schechter was known to be interested in this position, and now she’s made it official. I’ve reprinted her press release beneath the fold, to which I’ll add two observations. One is that she’s already lined up a decent amount of support for her candidacy – there are a lot of elected officials and other heavy hitters in her list of who’s with her. And two, the timing of all this has been just awful for Council Member Sue Lovell, whose interest in the Clerk’s office is longstanding, as Lovell is engaged in a runoff for her Council seat that won’t be resolved until a week after the filing period opens. Will these things deter her from running? Hard to say. As for the Republican side of things, incumbent Clerk Beverly Kaufman has made no bones about whom she would like to see succeed her, though her man Kevin Mauzy will almost certainly not go unchallenged. It’ll be fun to watch, that’s for sure. Click on for Schechter’s release.

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