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Reagan Flowers

30 Day finance reports: HISD

The Chron notes that where there are elections there are contributions, even for our diminished HISD Trustees.

The threat of state officials stripping power from Houston ISD trustees has not scared off donors interested in the district’s school board elections, with 13 candidates combining to raise about $210,000 through early October.

With about a month before the Nov. 5 general election, candidates running for four school board seats were collecting money at a similar pace as the 2017 election cycle, campaign finance records show. That year, 19 candidates took in about $300,000 with a month remaining before the general election, which featured five regular races and one special election in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

[…]

The bulk of donations to date have been collected by five non-incumbent candidates.

In District IV, which covers parts of southern and downtown Houston, Matt Barnes and Reagan Flowers outpaced the two other candidates running to replace Trustee Jolanda Jones, who is not seeking re-election. Barnes, the founder of Barnes Strategies Consulting, took in about $61,000, more than any other candidate had raised at this time in 2017. Flowers, the CEO of nonprofit C-STEM Teacher and Student Support Services, netted about $31,000.

To HISD’s east, District VIII challenger Judith Cruz collected about $60,000 in donations as of early October, far more than the single $2,500 contribution reported by incumbent Board President Diana Dávila, who traditionally does not raise campaign funds.

Armed with a fundraising advantage and several endorsements — Houstonians For Great Public Schools, Harris County Young Democrats and Latino Texas PAC, among others — Cruz is campaigning as a voice of change and transparency. The race comes as Dávila faces accusations from TEA investigators that she misled state officials during an inquiry into potential violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act and improperly interfered in district vendor contracts. Dávila has denied the allegations.

The story also mentions District III challenger Dani Hernandez ($26K) and District II candidate Kathy Blueford-Daniels ($17K, though most of that was in kind donations). Naturally, I have the details:

Kathy Blueford-Daniels – HISD II
Jevon German – HISD II
Cris Moses – HISD II

Sergio Lira – HISD III
Dani Hernandez – HISD III

Reagan Flowers – HISD IV
Patricia Allen – HISD IV
Matt Barnes – HISD IV

Diana Davila – HISD VIII
Judith Cruz – HISD VIII


Candidate     Raised      Spent     Loan     On Hand
====================================================
B-Daniels     17,660        780    2,500           0
German           250        627        0         250
Moses            790        658        0         131

Lira           6,585      5,709        0       6,883
Hernandez     26,627      5,994        0      16,478

Flowers       31,120      8,979    3,058      22,140
Allen          3,845        318        0           0
Barnes        42,736     34,640    2,491      23,375

Davila         2,500      2,605   19,073           0
Cruz          45,235      7,191        0      48,833

Here are the July reports. Many of the candidates running now were not in the race at that time. The totals mentioned in that Chron story are cumulative – Barnes had raised about $19K as of the July report, and Cruz had raised about $15K – but each individual report only reflects the amount raised and spent during that time period (July 1 through September 26 for these purposes), so what you see above is just that part of it. Nobody has raised any money in District II – as noted above, nearly all of Kathy Blueford-Daniels’ total is in kind donations – which for an open seat race is a situation that always intrigues me. District IV looks to be pretty competitive – Reagan Flowers entered after the July reports were filed, so everything she has raised is there in the 30 day. Hernandez and Cruz have raised their money, now they have to spend it. We could have a very different Board in less than two weeks.

Why would you run for HISD Board of Trustees this year?

It’s a good question.

As she campaigns door-to-door to become the newest member of Houston ISD’s school board, Reagan Flowers is encountering many confused voters.

They ask whether school board elections matter this year, given the growing likelihood that state officials will strip power from HISD trustees within months. They wonder what Flowers will do if she wins but does not get any authority. They question how she would change the culture of the much-maligned board.

“There’s still a tremendous need to educate people, to inform them of the process,” said Flowers, an education nonprofit executive and one of four candidates vying to represent District IV, which covers parts of downtown and southern Houston. “I tell them I’ll be your representative, your voice, making sure the needs of the district are being met.”

As November approaches and the threat of state intervention in HISD looms, Flowers and fourteen other school board candidates find themselves in the midst of a highly unusual election season, aiming to convince voters to participate in potentially diminished races.

[…]

Some candidates said voters remain confused or apathetic about the off-year school board elections. About 25 percent of registered voters cast ballots for HISD trustee in 2015, with mayoral and city council races likely boosting turnout.

However, multiple candidates said more-engaged voters are aware of the school board’s self-admitted dysfunction, laid bare during a heated October 2018 meeting, and want trustees who will cut through the tumult. Dissension over whether to retain Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan has inflamed tensions on the board in the past 12 months, creating factions that largely split across racial and ethnic lines.

“The only thing I hear about (from voters) is that they’re concerned with the in-fighting on the board and they want it to stop,” said Patricia Allen, a District IV candidate and retired HISD principal. “I’m not hearing positive things about the board takeover. But what I am hearing is, the board needs changes, that they need someone in there to focus on education.”

That sounds about right to me. The story name-checks all of the candidates, for the two open seat races (Districts II and IV, where Rhonda Skillern-Jones and Jolanda Jones will step down) and the two races against incumbents Sergio Lira (III) and Diana Davila (VIII). It’s not clear to me, or I suspect to anyone as this particular type of intervention by the TEA has never happened before, what exactly HISD Trustees will be doing once the TEA does its thing. Obviously, the goals are to improve outcomes in the schools, and to fix the problems the Board had so that it can be trusted to regain control. What that will look like in practice is something we will discover together. In the meantime and as always, please do pay attention to these races if you have one on your ballot (I don’t this time), and make good choices.

Bonus commentary on 2019 lineup

There was a lot of last minute activity at Monday’s filing deadline, as there usually is. Probably more so this year, as approximately ten percent of Houston adults are running for office this November. The point here is that the news stories and other available sources at the time had a lot to do to keep up with it all, and those of us who follow them now recognize there were things we missed the first time around. So, after another review of the Erik Manning spreadsheet and the City of Houston 2019 election page, here are some semi-random observations about things I didn’t note or comment on the first time around. I’ll run this down race by race.

Mayor: Mostly, I’m going to point out the filers and non-filers that are worth mentioning for one reason or another. The usual reason is going to be because my reaction to the late filers was along the lines of “oh, Lord, not that person again”. Exhibit A is Kendall Baker, who has cluttered up multiple ballots since the 2007 special election in At Large #3. Most recently, he ran in HD137 as a Republican in 2016, and in District F in 2015. Baker wasn’t a late filer – he had a June finance report – but as I prefer to think pleasant thoughts I’d forgotten he was in the race. He was one of the anti-HERO loudmouths who has his own problems with inappropriate behavior.

District B: Willie D did not file, so we will have a maximum of one Geto Boy on Council.

District C: Kendra Yarbrough Camarena did not file. She instead filed for the special election in HD148. Erik is tracking those filings in his spreadsheet as well. Yarbrough Camarena appears to be the first official entrant in this race. And don’t worry about District C, there are still thirteen candidates for that office.

District D: Andrew Burks rises from the ash heap to run again. Can you still be a perennial candidate if you once won something? My ruling is Yes. Burks served one action-packed two year term in At Large #2 from 2011 to 2013 before being defeated by David Robinson. I was wondering about how the term limits charter amendment would apply to him, and I found the answer, in Article V, Section 6a: “Persons who served a single term prior to 2016 who are not serving in City elective office in 2015 and thus not subject to subsection (b), shall be eligible to serve one additional four-year term in the same City elective office.” So there you have it.

District F: Adekunle “Kay” Elegbede is listed as a Write-In Candidate. Obviously, this means he will not appear on the ballot, so what does it mean? Here’s the applicable state law. Basically, this means that any write in votes for this candidate will actually count (as opposed to write-ins for, say, “Mickey Mouse” or “Ben Hall”), and there’s no filing fee.

District J: Jim Bigham, who ran against Mike Laster in 2015 did not file. He did not have a finance report, so no big surprise.

District K: Republican Gerry Vander-Lyn, who ran in the special election that Martha Castex-Tatum won, and one other person filed. Neither will provide much of a challenge to Castex-Tatum, but their presence means that no one is unopposed this cycle.

At Large #1: Ugh. Yolanda Navarro Flores, defeated by Zeph Capo in 2013 from the HCC Board, is back. In addition to her ethical issues while on the HCC Board, she was also pals with Dave Wilson. ‘Nuff said.

At Large #2: Apparently, it really isn’t an election without Griff Griffin. I had honestly thought he’d gone away, but no. The funny/scary thing is that he could easily wind up in a runoff with CM Robinson.

At Large #4: Anthony Dolcefino also jumps out of District C into this race. There are now 11 candidates in AL4, so it’s not like he landed in that much smaller a pond.

At Large #5: I guess Eric Dick isn’t having any fun on the HCDE Board, because here he is. As per the Andrew Burks Rule, which I just created, I label him a perennial candidate as well. Note that HCDE Trustees are not subject to resign to run, so Dick may continue on in his current gig, as Roy Morales had done for most of the time when he was on the HCDE Board.

HISD II: Lots of people signed up for this one after all. The one name I recognize is Kathy Blueford-Daniels, who had run for City Council in District B previously. Here’s an interview I did with her back in 2011, and another from 2013. Rodrick Davison, the one person to post a June finance report, wound up not filing for the office

HISD IV: Reagan Flowers was a candidate for HCDE in Precinct 1 in 2012. I interviewed her at the time. I feel like she ran for something else since then, but if so I can’t find it.

Endorsement watch: Better late than never

The Chron finally gets around to making an endorsement in the HCDE race for Precinct 1, Position 6.

Erica Lee

If you’ve never heard of the Harris County Board of Education, don’t feel bad. Even among people who care about school boards, this one maintains a low profile.

We’re pleased, though, that the sleepy board has attracted two unusually well qualified candidates. In the Democratic runoff for Position 1, Precinct 6, former Houston City Councilmember Jarvis Johnson faces Erica S. Lee, a promising political newcomer.

[…]

For the job, we endorse Lee, who combines real-world teaching experience with an impressive policy background. She taught first grade at HISD’s Lantrip Elementary before studying public policy at Duke University. After that, she served on a team that helped New York’s Gov. Eliot Spitzer prepare a $21 billion education budget – a budget that brought universal pre-K classes to New York kids.

Lee’s energetic campaign and long, wide-ranging list of endorsements – among them, the Houston Federation of Teachers, the Harris County AFL-CIO, Houston GLBT Political Caucus and Area 5 Pasadena Democrats – indicate both how seriously she takes the job and how well she’d be able to build coalitions to support our county’s schools. These days, our schools need all the help they can get.

You’d think an obscure office is one that the Chron would want to educate voters about, but never mind. I had wondered if the Chron would get to the races it had overlooked for the runoffs, and I’m glad to see they’ve at least covered this one. I also wholeheartedly agree with their choice – Erica Lee is a super candidate who has clearly done her homework about this job, and I will happily vote for her next week. But I’m a little curious about the Chron’s contention that the runoff for this seat features “two unusually well qualified candidates”. I’d have said that about the first round, when Reagan Flowers was also on the ballot, but with all due respect what exactly makes Jarvis Johnson “unusually well qualified” for this particular office? I’m not aware of him having a background in education, and I don’t recall him speaking about education matters while he was on Council. I tried to do some research about Johnson’s credentials, but there’s nothing to be found. He still has no campaign website, though if you Google him you can find his old Congressional campaign website and his long-dormant blog. His Facebook page has no mention of anything more recent than his Council service, and the only Twitter account I could find was from the Congressional campaign. I could live with the lack of an online presence if he had an active and visible campaign for this office, but it’s not active and visible to me – I’ve seen one email about a campaign event, and that’s it. Maybe he is “unusually well qualified” for this office, but if he is he’s doing an unusually good job of keeping it under wraps. Better to vote for the person whose unusually good qualifications are out there for all to see, and that person is Erica Lee.

Interview with Reagan Flowers

Reagan Flowers

Also running for Harris County Department of Education, Position 6, Precinct 1 is Reagan Flowers, who holds a PhD in Education Leadership from the Union Institute and University. She has been a science teacher, dean of students, and School Improvement Facilitator at different HISD campuses in her career, and today she runs an education support non-profit that she founded called CSTEM. Here’s what we talked about:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle, plus other related information, on my 2012 Harris County Primary Elections page. You can also follow this blog by liking its Facebook page.

Sanchez ends his Senate campaign

This news broke late Friday.

Leading Democratic U.S. senatorial candidate Ricardo Sanchez announced Friday that he’s ending his campaign to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

In a statement issued by his campaign to supporters, Sanchez said anemic fundraising and the loss of his house to a fire had led him to conclude that a statewide campaign was “impractical for me at this time.”

“After extensive consultation with my family … I have decided to put family first and I will therefore end my campaign for the 2012 U.S. Senate seat as of today,” he said.

Well, that answers my question. Sanchez’s campaign never really got off the ground, and a month ago his house burned down, which is a tough thing for anyone to overcome. As we know, a lot of people were unhappy with his candidacy in the first place. This isn’t really a surprise.

“Politics abhors a vacuum. Someone will step forward,” said Jeff Crosby, a longtime Democratic consultant. “Someone will step in; who, I don’t know.”

Southern Methodist University political science Professor Cal Jillson said the situation Texas Democrats find themselves in is indicative of the party’s decade of electoral futility in statewide races.

“It is another sign of what people have been talking about for a decade, a very thin bench,” Jillson said. “You have some attractive young people in the Legislature and in city government … but they don’t have statewide name recognition.”

There’s always John Sharp, isn’t there? Surely he’s tanned, rested, and ready by now. I have no idea if anyone else will run. I don’t know how much it matters at this point. As to what Professor Jillson says, this is why I have been talking about making way for new blood. I disagree with him about the need for statewide name recognition, however, because almost no one currently serving at the state level had it beforehand. Rick Perry, Susan Combs, Todd Staples, and Jerry Patterson all came from the Lege. David Dewhurst was just some rich guy with no prior electoral experience before he ran for Land Commissioner. Most of the Railroad Commissioners we have had in the past decade or more were appointed to the position by the Governor before they won an election for the office. Only Greg Abbott, who was a Supreme Court justice before he was AG, had statewide experience. The fact is that when the state is ready to elect Democrats, it won’t matter much where those Democrats come from. What might speed that up is getting some Democrats who might like to run statewide into Congress and the State Senate, where their fundraising bases can be maximized. No matter how you slice it, though, the path to a statewide office involves a really big last step.

In other primary-related news, there were a few more filings in Harris County on Friday, with two races now having third candidates in them. In HD137, the seat being vacated by State Rep. Scott Hochberg, attorney Gene Wu has made his entry into the race. I’ve met Wu but don’t know a whole lot about him. I do know that the court-drawn HD137 has an Asian CVAP of 12.0%, which is third highest in the state behind HDs 26 (23.8%) and 149 (13.8%), wihch may add an interesting wrinkle to the race. All data is taken from here. In case you’re curious, the top ten districts in Plan H302 by Asian CVAP are as follows:

Dist County Incumbent Asian CVAP ========================================== 26 Fort Bend Open 23.8% 149 Harris Vo 13.8% 137 Harris Open 12.0% 66 Collin V Taylor 9.7% 112 Dallas Chen Button 8.4% 135 Harris Elkins 8.2% 115 Dallas Open 7.9% 27 Fort Bend Reynolds 7.8% 67 Collin Open 7.8% 129 Harris J Davis 7.3%

Obviously, that is subject to change. The other race with a third candidate now in it is HCDE Board of Trustees, Precinct 1, Position 6, the post now held by Roy Morales. This is not surprising when you consider that the Democratic primary will decide the outcome. The third candidate is Dr. Reagan Flowers, who according to her press release is “Founder and CEO of CSTEM (Communications-Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) a non-profit focused on improving education for underserved and underrepresented children.” You can read some of her writings here. I look forward to interviewing all the candidates in this race so I can figure out which one to vote for.

Otherwise in Harris County, things are pretty well covered. It looks like all of the 1st and 14th District Court of Appeals seats have challengers. The main down note is that other than Keith Hampton’s challenge to Sharon Keller, there are no Democratic candidates for Supreme Court or CCA. I suppose we could get a late filing or two tomorrow, but that’s not terribly encouraging.

Finally, here’s a list of Democratic filings in Fort Bend. I don’t know offhand if they have any races unfilled or not – I’m not sure when their District Attorney position is up, for instance. Again, the legislative seats are subject to change at the whim of the court. As, of course, is the whole unified primary itself, as it requires fairly swift SCOTUS action to not be scuttled by the calendar. For now, we’ll all just pretend that won’t happen.

UPDATE The District Attorney office in Fort Bend is not up until 2014. All offices except Tax Assessor have Democratic candidates filed for them so far.