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Lupe Garcia

Chron District H overview

Early voting for the District H special election begins tomorrow. Here’s the Chron’s usual overview story on the race, in which each candidate gets a paragraph of biography and a paragraph of quotation. Dunno if that’ll help you make up your mind if you’re still undecided, but there it is anyway.

As a reminder, the Harris County Clerk has posted the early voting schedule and locations (PDF) for this election. Briefly summarized, it is as follows:

For the week of Monday, April 27 to Friday, May 1: 8 AM to 5 PM
For Saturday, May 2: 7 AM to 7 PM
For Sunday, May 3: 1 PM to 6 PM
For Monday, May 4 and Tuesday, May 5: 7 AM to 7 PM

There are three locations:

The Harris County Administrative Building, 1001 Preston St downtown, first floor.

Moody Park Recreation Center, 3725 Fulton Street, which I believe is in Lindale.

Ripley House Neighborhood Center, 4410 Navigation Blvd, in the East End.

And if you’d like some more in-depth information about the candidates, you can review the interviews I did with them:

Rick Rodriguez
Yolanda Navarro Flores
Lupe Garcia
Gonzalo Camacho
Maverick Welsh
Hugo Mojica
Ed Gonzalez

I assume tomorrow we’ll get the Chron’s endorsement for the race. At least, I hope so.

Candidate interview: Lupe Garcia

Next up in the District H interview series is Lupe Garcia, who is a small business owner and a resident of the Heights, where he grew up and where his mom still lives. My conversation with him is here. As always, please let me know what you think.

PREVIOUSLY:

Rick Rodriguez
Yolanda Navarro Flores

Derr misses filing deadline

Yesterday was the filing deadline for the District H special election. Usually, that brings a last-minute surprise in the form of an unexpected candidate. This time, it brought a different kind of surprise.

As one of the first people to declare her candidacy to replace Adrian Garcia in the District H City Council seat, Karen Derr seemed to have lined up all her ducks in a row.

Until today.

The Realtor and potential candidate apparently forgot to file her papers with the City Secretary by yesterday’s deadline.

Oops.

Officially filing the paperwork in candidacy 101. Derr had done everything else by the book. She started a website (which was just taken down), appointed her husband treasurer, and had a high name ID thanks to her real estate business. The City Secretary’s list does not show Derr, and that is a major break for Maverick Welsh, the former Chief of Staff for Council Member Peter Brown.

That’s a shame, and I feel bad for Karen. She’d certainly been an active campaigner – there’s a ton of her yard signs in my neighborhood, and we’ve been contacted twice by her team, once on the phone and once at the door. Nobody else has done that yet. I hadn’t made up my mind who was going to get my vote in this election, but she was certainly on the list of possibilities. Her departure makes my decision a little easier, but it’s still a shame.

KHOU has more.

Derr tells 11 News that she thought the city’s deadline matched a state deadline for special elections, which is not until later this month.

“To tell you the truth, we’ve been out with a very grassroots campaign on the trail and going to three and four meetings a day,” she said. “We dropped the ball, evidently.”

“You dust yourself off, and you try again,” she said.

She added that supporters are urging her to either mount a write-in campaign or run for an At-Large seat in November. Derr says she has not yet made a decision, nor is she ready to endorse another candidate.

I doubt she’ll do the write-in thing. There’s just no percentage in it. I do have a feeling she’ll be getting a bunch of calls from other candidates, as an endorsement from her ought to carry some weight. I’ve got a statement from Derr beneath the fold.

So with Derr out, who’s left? It’s still a long list.

The order on the ballot, which was determined by a drawing according to a longstanding tradition set up by the city secretary, is as follows: Edward “Ed” Gonzalez, Lupe Garcia, Gonzalo Camacho, Hugo Mojica, Larry Williams, Maverick Welsh, James Partsch-Galvan, Yolanda Navarro Flores and Rick Rodriguez.

Williams ran against Adrian Garcia in 2005 and got 22% of the vote. Partsch-Galvan has run in multiple elections before, including in 2005 against Shelley Sekula Gibbs, getting 27%. The other candidates had all been actively running for awhile and had participated in the first candidate forum.

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Shady Acres candidate forum report

I attended the District H candidate forum that was presented by the Shady Acres Civic Club last night. Eight candidates were in attendance: Gonzalo Camacho, Karen Derr, Yolanda Navarro Flores, Lupe Garcia, Ed Gonzalez, Hugo Mojica, Rick Rodriguez, and Maverick Welsh. That makes the logistics a bit unwieldy, but the Shady Acres folks and moderator Nancy Wilcox did a good job of keeping things on track and moving. You can see photos of all the participants here along with a list of questions they were all asked; the questions were sent to them in advance, and some of them have submitted written answers as well – there are links on the sidebar to those answers.

I’m just going to give general impressions here. I thought the candidates generally came off pretty well. Nobody made me cringe or wonder what they were doing up there, as was the case with a couple of non-entity candidates (neither of whom was ultimately on the ballot) at a Mayoral forum our neighborhood association hosted back in 2003. There was a lot of agreement among them as they answered the questions that were posed to them. This was partly an artifact of the limited time they had to answer the questions (90 seconds each), and partly because the candidates are not too far apart in outlook and ideology. There is a broad range of backgrounds and experiences among them – the candidates include cops, lawyers, teachers, realtors, civil engineers, and business owners – and it’s clear they have different priorities and approaches. But at this stage of the game, there wasn’t that much dissonance among them. I assume that will change for the runoff, at least to some extent, but for now things were very civil and pleasant.

We’re about ten weeks out from the start of early voting. This is going to be a low-turnout affair, so it’s really important to try and get to know these folks, because with such a big field and with many of them having some base of support to begin with, it’s impossible to say who might make the runoff. There are at least two more candidate forums coming up that I know of, one of which will be held by the Greater Heights Democratic Club in March. I really urge everyone in H to make an effort to attend some event or meeting or whatever where these candidates will be and ask them whatever questions you may have. The odds are good they have been or will be at your neighborhood association’s meetings. The difference between making the runoff and not will likely be measured in something like a few dozen votes, so make sure your voice gets heard.

I will be conducting interviews with all these candidates starting next month. I still have to figure out who I’ll be voting for. In the meantime, take a look at the Shady Acres page and the candidates’ answers that they have so far and get acquainted with them. It’ll be time to vote before you know it.

More on the city council redistricting lawsuit

Here’s today’s version of the story, which adds a little more detail to yesterday’s.

Population consultants and planning officials have said that redistricting now would require the city to rely on 2000 census data outlining population figures in voting precincts. Although the city has done that before, officials said, updated population figures showed those efforts to have been flawed.

Redistricting now, he said, could lead the city to violate the Voting Rights Act by potentially undercounting minorities through the use of outdated census data.

“I support the Voting Rights Act,” [Mayor Bill] White said. “We think the most important step to make sure there is fair representation of all citizens is to have maximum participation in the 2010 census.”

{Plaintiffs Vidal] Martinez and [Carroll] Robinson said the city has several options for getting the most accurate population information, including using data from the census and demographic specialists.

“It’s a sad day when it takes a group of private lawyers to have to ask the Justice Department and the courts to do what the city is legally and morally obligated to do,” Robinson said.

He and Martinez said they felt goaded into action as the council prepared to vote next week on a measure that ostensibly declares the population for voting purposes to be around 1.95 million, and the council districts to be evenly divided according to population.

That’s a “comical farce,” Martinez said.

Council members have admitted as much during open meetings, questioning whether their votes on the matter would ratify a misleading stance.

[Annise] Parker, the city controller, is a candidate for mayor and has declared her support for redistricting now. She said Thursday that the city has staked out an “inconsistent” position on its population.

In budget-related decisions, she said, the council already has cast votes asserting a higher population, and she has used a 2.2 million population figure in bond-related documents, as well.

I’m going to guess that the other candidates for Mayor will share Parker’s position on this, if for no better reason than I’m sure they’d all prefer to have this matter dealt with, or at least largely out of their hands, before taking office. Who wouldn’t want to avoid dealing with it, especially right out of the gate?

As I’ve said before, given that we put this off till now I think it’s reasonable to wait till the 2010 Census numbers are in before tackling this task. But given that we shouldn’t have put this off in the first place, I also think it’s reasonable to force the issue now. My main concern right now is the disposition of the District H special election. I don’t want it to be delayed by this lawsuit. I have no idea what a timeline is likely to be for any court decisions that would affect it, however. I’ve got a copy of the lawsuit here (rich-text format document, thanks to Miya for the link). Can any lawyers out there give me an opinion as to how this may play out? I’m not looking for a guess on how it will be decided, just on how long you think it might take to get to some kind of resolution, and whether or not the May and/or November elections are in doubt. Thanks.

UPDATE: On a tangential note, I just got an email announcing Lupe Garcia‘s official entry into the District H race. His press release is beneath the fold.

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Ed Gonzalez kickoff event

Ed Gonzalez will have a campaign kickoff event for District H next Wednesday, February 11, at Irma’s Restaurant downtown from 5:30 to 7 PM. You can get all the details here (PDF).

We’re rapidly approaching the filing deadline for the May special election, and from there it’s going to be an absolute sprint to the finish line – well, the first finish line – in May. As we know, there are seven declared candidates so far, with two more in the wings. That can all change, but for sure this is going to be a crowded field, and everyone in the running is going to be hard-pressed to get their message out. I’ll do whatever I can to pass along event announcements and other news, and of course I’ll be working on doing interviews with everyone. If you’re a candidate or associated with one, and haven’t contacted me, please do so I can make sure I get your information as well.

Along those lines, the Greater Heights Democratic Club is planning a District H candidate forum for March 19 at 7 PM, location to be determined. They do not have current contact information for Lupe Garcia, Rick Rodriguez, Yolanda Navarro Flores, or Diana Davila Martinez. If you are one of these people or know how to contact one of them, please drop me a note with an email address and/or cell number so Kevin Hoffman and the GHDC folks can get in touch with you. Thanks very much

Finally, I note that Gonzalez was at that Heights crime prevention townhall meeting, and posted a report about it on his blog. So there you have it.

A list of who has actually filed treasurer’s reports so far

Noel Freeman did us all the public service of trooping over to the City Secretary’s office and compiling a list of people who had filed treasurer’s reports as of Monday for election to a municipal office in 2009. As I discovered last week, they don’t give that information out over the phone, so this is the only way to know for sure who’s in and who’s not, at least for now. Here’s what Noel was able to find:

Mayor

Annise Parker
Gene Locke
Roy Morales
Peter Brown
Ben Hall

At-Large 4

Noel Freeman

District A

Alex Wathen
Jeff Downing
Brenda Stardig
Bert Schoelkopf

District E

Wayne Garrison

District F

Mike Laster

District G
Oliver Pennington
Mills Worsham

District H
Lupe Garcia
Rick Rodriguez
Ed Gonzales
Maverick Welsh
Karen Derr
Hugo Mojica
Yolanda Navarro Flores
Diana Davila Martinez
Gonzalo Camacho

The names in italics are folks who are at least rumored to be running but who have not yet filed. Nobody has made a move towards At Large #1 yet, currently held by Peter Brown. I figure no one will do so until he does his formalities for the Mayor’s race. I see freshman Member Mike Sullivan has an opponent – he’s the only incumbent so far to get one, though he surely won’t be the last. Lupe Garcia in District H is a new name to me – I’ve just stumbled across a Facebook group in support of his candidacy, but the man himself doesn’t appear to have a profile. Does anyone know anything about this person? Yolanda Navarro Flores had not filed as of Monday, but yesterday afternoon a press release announcing her candidacy (reproduced beneath the fold) appeared in my inbox. I also got a release for Mike Laster, who had filed but hadn’t made a formal announcement yet; that release is beneath the fold as well. Finally, there’s a release from Noel Freeman about a Facebook fundraising campaign he’s got going on. Miya and Greg have more. Anybody hearing anything else they’d like to add?

I’ll say again, I do not know why this information is not available on the web. I cannot think of a single good reason why it shouldn’t be. From the conversation I had with someone in the City Secretary’s office, I get the impression that this is extra work to them, which is probably why it’s not any kind of priority for them. It seems to me that the right answer is for the city to hire someone for whom handling elections and election-related activities like campaign finance reports is their primary duty. It was kind of amusing that the city didn’t get around to posting campaign finance reports online until 2007. It’s deeply embarassing that we can’t even get a list of candidates who have filed a simple report, not to mention a peek at those reports themselves, in 2009. What century are we in again? Let’s get with the program already.

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