Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Election 2007

The Riddler goes on a rampage

The Observer looks at a trio of bills by Rep. Debbie Riddle in which she tries to solve the immigration issue all by herself.

Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, is launching a three-pronged attack on non-citizens this session. Prong 1: Hook ’em at work with HB 48, which would suspend employers’ licenses for “knowingly” employing undocumented workers. Prong 2: Nail ’em at school with HB 50, which would disqualify undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition.

And then there’s Prong 3, which would, it seems, get ’em everywhere else. HB 49 would create a Class B misdemeanor (Criminal Trespass by Illegal Aliens) that would effectively authorize local law enforcement to enforce two sections of the federal code governing most immigration law.

Asked if there were a precedent for such a law in other states, Riddle said, “If not, I’m willing to be on the cutting edge and do what’s bold here in Texas.”


Under HB 49, peace officers, acting on “reasonable suspicion,” could detain people for being undocumented – even if they have not committed another crime. If ICE confirms the detained person is in the U.S. illegally, the peace officer could then make an arrest.


Constitutionality aside, leaving immigration to the feds has worked out for federal agents and local law enforcers alike, says El Paso Police Chief Gregory Allen. “It’s been pretty clear cut,” Allen says. “I don’t think it should be spread out. ICE doesn’t help us out with our robbery problems or our burglary problems. They’re not cruising our neighborhoods. We shouldn’t be required to help them.”

Riddle’s response? “I don’t think that we should have this hair-splitting of, oh, well, this isn’t my job,” she says. “Citizens don’t really care that much about who is making sure that their security is established in place.”

However, according to Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, burdening local law enforcement with enforcing federal immigration law could negatively impact a police department’s capacity to fight crime, since city police departments already have their hands – and jails – full enforcing current criminal statutes. What’s more, allowing local law officers to arrest illegal immigrants might discourage victims of questionable status from coming forward and reporting crimes, particularly in cases of family violence.

“You’d lose a lot of witnesses. There’d be a lot of crime that would go unreported,” says Acevedo. “I’ll give you an example. We went to a call with domestic violence. Here, a young woman was beaten by a legal resident and his threat to her was, if you call the police, you’re going to get deported.”

There is a precedent for this, and we know from experience that the result is even worse than what Chief Acevedo anticipates. I’m talking about Maricopa County and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, which has been doing exactly what Riddle wants for years. How’s that working out for them?

In Guadalupe, grocery store employees waited in vain for help during an armed robbery.

In Queen Creek, vandalism spread through a neighborhood where Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies rarely patrolled.

In Aguila, people bought guns in the face of rising crime that deputies couldn’t respond to quickly enough.

And in El Mirage, dozens of serious felony cases went uninvestigated.

Response times, arrest rates, investigations and other routine police work throughout Maricopa County have suffered over the past two years as Sheriff Joe Arpaio turned his already short-handed and cash-strapped department into an immigration enforcement agency, a Tribune investigation found.

Read the whole five-part series, which I’ve referenced before, and ask yourself why we’d want to emulate that. I can’t think of any good reason. I’m sure this thing would come with a hefty fiscal note as well, which in these tight budgetary times ought to be enough to give one pause regardless of one’s ideological perspective on the issue. I doubt Riddle cares about that, however – I’m sure she’d be happy to reapportion money from just about anywhere else for this. The bill has been referred to the Criminal Jurisprudence committee, where it will hopefully die a swift and well-deserved death.

AG to approve HISD bond money

Looks like the last major hurdle for the HISD bond referendum has been cleared.

The Texas Attorney General’s office plans to give a preliminary green light Thursday to the Houston Independent School District’s $805 million bond — effectively ending a three-month long legal standoff that has held up school construction.

With no appeals pending in state court, Assistant Attorney General David Mattax issued a letter this week saying that the critics’ remaining federal lawsuit, which claims that some HISD’s policies discriminate against poor, minority children, isn’t enough to keep the state from signing off on the public securities.

“Rather, (the) policy-making role lies with the local elected officials who vote to place a bond election on the ballot, and the voters who choose whether to approve the bonds,” Mattax wrote.

HISD’s controversial bond, which passed by a 2,000-vote margin in November, is expected to build 24 new schools and renovate 134 others. The AG is expected to approve the bonds after a scheduling hearing set tomorrow on the federal lawsuit. Approval will be final no earlier than March 7, officials said.

So this means construction can begin. There is still that federal lawsuit, but I couldn’t tell you what effect that may have, or when it may have it. The bottom line is that the bonds can be issued without having to wait for further court rulings, which is not how things turned out in Waller County. As someone who voted for the HISD bond referendum, I’m glad to see this.

I’m also amused by this:

Attorney Ty Clevenger, who represented critics of both the Waller and Houston bonds, said he could have salvaged the case against HISD in Supreme Court. He said he’s dropping the case because he never got paid by the opponents, who were organized by State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston.

“I took the Waller case pro bono, but that was never the agreement with HISD,” he said. “And I have not even been reimbursed for my expenses.”

I’m just gonna let that one slide by as it is.

Another win for HISD in bond lawsuits

It doesn’t mean much in practice, but it’s still a win.

In an ongoing legal battle that could have a major impact on Texas taxpayers and school districts, a Travis County judge refused Wednesday to grant a new bond validation hearing for opponents of the Houston district’s $805 million bond package.

State District Judge Gisela Triana declined to vacate her December ruling that validated the election process, a decision needed before the bonds can be sold.

Leaders in the Houston Independent School District called the ruling a big win, saying they hope the state attorney general will decide soon on whether to sign off on the bond money. The funds are planned for projects including construction of 24 schools and repair of 134 others.

I’m having a little trouble keeping up with all this. Far as I knew, it was Judge John Dietz who made the ruling in the bond validation lawsuit. Am I missing a lawsuit, or was it just a different judge ruling on the same matter?

Like its neighbors in the much smaller Waller school district, HISD faces state and federal challenges to its recent bond election. While opponents in both districts have had little legal success, their challenges have blocked sale of the bonds.

In Waller, lawyers estimate that the delays are costing taxpayers $40,000 a week because of inflation in construction costs. HISD’s loss could be several times higher, an attorney said.

Still, Ty Clevenger, the lawyer for opponents to both bond issues, said he will appeal Triana’s decision and continue his fight in federal court, where critics accuse HISD of shortchanging minority students. HISD disputes that, saying about 90 percent of its students are black or Hispanic.

“This is a partial victory because (the judge) does not construe her order to prevent us from proceeding in federal court,” Clevenger said. “So that prevents the school district from waving this order in front of the attorney general and saying, ‘You have to approve these bonds.’ ”

Triana told Clevenger and HISD’s attorney, Pat Mizell, that her order doesn’t prevent a federal court from reviewing civil rights claims raised by bond opponents. She said she would be extremely upset if either one misrepresented her position in federal court.


In the Waller case, Mizell is asking the Texas Supreme Court to order the attorney general to release the bond money.

In rare cases, the high court has ordered the attorney general to approve bonds. The attorney general also has signed off on bonds after concluding that pending litigation was frivolous, say attorneys who specialize in bonds.

I don’t expect AG Abbott to do anything to help HISD in any way. I will be happy to be proven wrong about this.

Motion to overturn bond validation lawsuit

Remember that bond validation lawsuit that HISD filed and won, practically by forfeit, in Travis County after the last election? Opponents of the bond have now filed a motion to overturn that ruling.

The motion contends that state District Judge John K. Dietz did not have jurisdiction in the case — a lawsuit the district filed in Austin shortly after the Nov. 6 election to stave off expected legal challenges that district officials feared could tie up the bond money.

While a hearing on whether to reconsider the issue could be held as early as next week, HISD attorney Pat Mizell said he is confident the district followed the law.

“The district plans to aggressively address these allegations, and we believe the judgment entered in Travis County is solid,” said Mizell, a partner with Vinson & Elkins. “The district needs to press forward to build schools as quickly as possible.”

Wednesday’s filing was the latest development in what appears destined to be a long and costly legal battle for both sides. Critics also vowed Wednesday to beef up a federal lawsuit filed Dec. 14 by three families who say the school district’s policies deny poor and minority children quality educations.

“Eventually, I think you will see this gravitate into a class-action lawsuit,” said state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, one of the most vocal critics of the bond plan.

The motion filed Wednesday in state court is “just us challenging on all fronts,” he added. “What we’re doing is making sure all bases are covered.”

He and others contend that the bond plan — and more generally, HISD policies — shortchange African-American and other minority students. They say schools in those neighborhoods don’t offer the same quality of education as schools in other areas.

Mizell said he expects to file a response to the federal lawsuit, as well as a motion to dismiss all or part of it, this month. A scheduling conference is set for late February.

I really don’t know how to evaluate all these claims. We’ll see what happens.

Burka and Kennedy on Barrett’s win

Paul Burka admits that his earlier call about the HD97 runoff was wrong, and gives his reasons for why State Rep. Dan Barrett pulled off the win.

Shelton ran a bad race. He waffled about the robo-calls. He had bad campaign materials. One Republican voter told me about getting a flyer from Shelton that talked about his being an Eagle Scout and all three of his sons being Eagle Scouts — and then viciously attacked Barrett, a trial lawyer, undermining the character issue Shelton was trying to promote. Then there was his open endorsement of Tom Craddick. Why do it? Which voters were going to think to themselves, “I have to go vote for Shelton so that Tom Craddick can be speaker”? I wonder whether Craddick wanted Shelton to go public so that, expecting Shelton to win, he could make the race a referendum on himself. Be careful what you wish for.

Since Tom Craddick became speaker, the Republicans have lost a net nine seats. The Republican majority has shrunk from 26 to 8. Craddick has argued in appearances before Republican groups that if he loses the speakership, the Democrats win, but the evidence suggests that the opposite is true: Because of him, Republicans are losing their majority. You have to think that at some point Republican candidates in contested races against Democrats, or even in Republican primaries, are going to ask themselves whether Craddick is a benefit or a burden. And, for that matter, you would think that at some point Republican honchos, from Rick Perry down to the money guys and the consultants and the lobbyists, would start to worry that he could cost them their majority. If this isn’t part of the Republican conversation, it had better be.

You do have to wonder at what point the Republican money people throw Craddick under the bus. I think it’s too late and they have too much invested in him to turn their ship around. They win or die with Craddick next November. What happens after that, especially if the GOP House majority becomes a thing of the past, I have no idea. But I’m sure I’ll enjoy watching.

A better question from my perspective is at what point will the Democratic money people realize that, as a Burka commenter put it, a 60% Republican district doesn’t mean much of anything any more? How many seats could we win if we really tried to expand the map? We’ve got the issues, we’ve got the energy, we’ve got proof that we can win places we’re not supposed to win – what else do we need? It seems to me that the right lesson to draw from this race is that we have no excuse for not pouring as many resources as we can into any State Rep race that’s remotely viable. In particular, the past electoral history of any given district should not be seen as an insurmountable barrier. Any place we have a good candidate running against a Craddick stooge, we should think of it as winnable. Anything less is leaving money on the table.

By the way, be sure to read through the comments for some awesome excusemaking by Republicans for why they lost this one. My favorite is the one who claimed that the runoff’s proximity to Christmas was a barrier for them, as if it hadn’t been Governor Perry’s decision when to set the date.

Meanwhile, the Star-Telegram’s Bud Kennedy also weighs in:

Barrett won because Texas Democrats sent help.

But he also won because his opponent became the Amazing Vanishing Republican, and because suburban Republican voters pulled their own vanishing act on election day.

Fort Worth pediatrician Mark Shelton had leveraged volunteer help and Texas doctors’ money into a first-round victory over five other Republicans, making him the favorite in the runoff.

But then, the friendly Shelton began avoiding reporters’ questions, refusing interviews and responding only by e-mail.

By the final week, he seemed trapped in a campaign that was not his own.

His Austin campaign consultants, Craddick allies, sent reams of hostile mailers about illegal immigration, as if that were the sole issue.

On election day, suburban Republicans stayed home, voting by the handfuls instead of by the hundreds in Benbrook and at huge boxes such as the one at North Crowley High School.

North Crowley parents were among the big winners. Their growing district would be among those hurt most by a private-school voucher plan that Shelton supported.

The biggest loser was Craddick.

Two Republican candidates had already opposed him, and he wound up losing yet another vote in his campaign to keep his 18-year rule as the party’s House leader.

“It seemed to me that Shelton was never speaking for himself,” Barrett said. “Everything had to go through e-mail or through his handlers. It was as if everything came from Craddick.”

Not exactly. But if Shelton had been elected, he would have been pressured to vote Craddick’s way in Austin, no matter what was best for Fort Worth or Benbrook.

I’ll say it again: Any place we have a good candidate up against a Craddick toady, we should view it as a pickup opportunity. It’s as simple as that.

Barrett Wins! Republican Leadership Rejected

In an indictment of Craddick’s leadership, House District 97 was won today by Democrat Dan Barrett, in the special election to fill an unexpired term that opened up when Republican Anna Mowery resigned in August.


Barrett 52.2%, 5365 votes
Shelton 47.8%, 4913 votes

Barrett won the early vote 55-45%.

Barrett was clear all along that he was running against the corrupt Republican leadership in the House – Craddick and his lieutenants.

Fort Worth voters clearly think it’s time for a change. Where will the next five come from?

If Fort Worth voters have this much good sense, John Cornyn might want to look over his shoulder.

Congrats to Dan Barrett and everyone on the ground who made this happen!

UPDATE: Here’s the Star-Telegram story. One other portent from this race:

Shelton rarely spoke about health care as he campaigned, but relentlessly focused on illegal immigration. Shelton repeatedly said that was the issue Republican voters in the district were most interested in.

Sweet. Y’all keep running on that, Republicans. We’ll keep winning.

UPDATE: For the ultimate schdenfreudistic experience, read this DMN overview of the race from Sunday.

The west Tarrant County district has become a proving ground for House Speaker Tom Craddick. It hosts the first election since the divisive legislative session ended in May and, therefore, has become a bellwether for what’s to come next year.

The race pitting Democrat Dan Barrett against Republican Mark Shelton has been replete with subversive political tricks, lots of cash and surprising outcomes.

The fact that Mr. Craddick was a specter in the race – appearing at fundraisers, asking candidates to sign pledge cards and keeping a close eye on the election through operatives in Fort Worth – speaks volumes about what the Midland Republican has at stake in the runoff.


The special election was rife with intrigue early on, culminating with an Election Day attack on GOP candidate Bob Leonard in the Nov. 6 balloting to whittle seven candidates down to two.

Local operatives were advising the speaker and other observers that Mr. Leonard, who refused to commit to Mr. Craddick, was the presumed front-runner and that the perceived “Craddick guy,” Craig Goldman, was falling behind.

That morning, mysterious “robo-calls” went out to voters telling them to vote against Mr. Leonard. Suddenly, the guy who was on no one’s radar – Mr. Shelton – stunned pundits and operatives and grabbed a runoff spot.

Now the heir apparent in the longtime GOP district, Mr. Shelton formalized his support of Mr. Craddick by signing a pledge card and became the new darling of the Republican leadership – after battling virtually alone to get to the runoff, with no organized fundraisers and no major endorsements outside the medical community.

The party is hosting phone banks, and money-raising has picked up, his coffers landing big contributions from the likes of homebuilder Bob Perry in Houston and AT&T, longtime allies of the speaker.

Mr. Craddick himself recently appeared at a Shelton fundraiser in Austin.

“Now it’s no longer just me,” Mr. Shelton said. “The Republicans in the Texas House and Senate, they’re all behind me. We have help and support behind me that I never had before.”

Observers say the speaker’s involvement in the race proves that he’s not taking any chances- and that a mere win won’t be good enough. He needs a commanding victory by his candidate to reinforce confidence in his power.

If this were any sweeter, I’d need to take an insulin shot.

A House Pick-Up On Tuesday?

December 18th is election day in Tarrant County in the runoff election to select a new member to the Texas Legislature. Democrat Dan Barrett got 31.5% of the vote in the recent special election against five Republicans. He faces Republican Mark Shelton in the runoff.

This special election became necessary when Anna Mowery, a Republican, retired in August from the Legislature after serving 19 years.

The Fort Worth Star -Telegram endorsed Barrett, saying:

Democrat Dan Barrett has a ready answer for people who contend that the controversies involving Speaker Tom Craddick’s heavy hand in the Texas House don’t matter to the voters in District 97.

“Maybe only the most inside of political wonks know his name,” said Barrett, who is facing Republican Mark Shelton in the Dec. 18 runoff, “but they are upset by a style of leadership that allows Craddick and the people he works with to exercise absolute control by fair means or foul.”

Craddick’s “politics of fear and intimidation” came to a startling climax in the last session, Barrett said, when the speaker declared himself the ultimate authority in the House, but this has been an issue ever since the Midland representative took the speaker’s chair.

“That is so contrary to the very principle of democracy,” Barrett said. Even if people aren’t well-informed about the particulars of government, they still care what happens in Austin. “They want to make sure that things are going OK so they don’t have to watch every single move. That’s why they elect representatives.”

Barrett is counting that the concerns for fair government will propel him to victory Dec. 18, given that his opponent, a pediatrician at Cook Children’s Medical Center, is a Craddick backer.

Barrett pulled in 31.5 percent, or 5,575 votes, in the Nov. 6 special election. Shelton — one of five Republicans in the race — came in second with 22.8 percent, or 4,047 votes.

Early voting for the Dec. 18 runoff election begins Monday.

Barrett is “absolutely against” school vouchers, supports a local-option sales tax for rail transit projects, believes that state lawmakers’ votes should be on the record “from start to finish,” and will work for comprehensive measures to bring North Texas into compliance with Environmental Protection Agency clean-air standards.

To paraphrase Barrett from a League of Women Voters forum, District 97 voters who think things are hunky-dory in Austin should vote for Shelton.

Unfortunately, the last legislative session was far from hunky or dory. Although Barrett is a realist in admitting that he alone, as a freshman legislator, can’t change the status quo, he just might make a difference as part of a growing body of lawmakers who represent a growing number of Texans who are dissatisfied with House leadership.

The Star-Telegram recommends Dan Barrett in the Dec. 18 runoff for Texas House District 97.

3352 votes were cast during early voting for the runoff election.

Follow Tuesday’s election night results at the Tarrant County Elections site.

The successful Caucus

The Houston GLBT Political Caucus had a pretty good election season this year. Here’s the press release they sent out about it:

The Houston GLBT Caucus was victorious in 16 of the 17 races in which they endorsed in the November general election and December runoff election including the city council race for District D which encompasses the Montrose Area. Unofficial canvass reports from Harris County had Adams winning Montrose by about 800 total votes, receiving 88% of the vote in those precincts. The GLBT Caucus also endorsed Jolanda Jones, At-Large 5 and James Rodriguez, District I for Houston City Council.

GLBT President Jennifer Pool said, “The Caucus worked very hard to elect those candidates it endorsed, and it worked. Jolanda Jones and Wanda Adams each won decisively in their respective runoff races because of the extraordinary work of our volunteers coordinated by Nick Hellyar.”

Pool also emphasized, “We are not a special interest group; we are a general interest group. That is why we endorsed in the HISD, county, and state bond elections as well. Our focus is on cleaner air, better public schools, increasing public safety, and electing quality progressive candidates. We want a better Houston for our families, and that starts by electing the best candidates.”

The Houston GLBT Political Caucus (HGLBTPC), founded in 1975, is the South’s oldest GLBT civil rights organization. The HGLBTPC is member based and serves as the political arm of the Houston GLBT community. The Caucus meets the first Wednesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. The monthly meeting is held at the Havens Center, 1827 W. Alabama. For more information go to

The one race they did not win was in the HCC Trustee election where they endorsed Kevin Hoffman over Yolanda Navarro Flores. Other than that, they ran the table. It’s a pretty impressive achievement, especially when you consider how wide open a couple of those races were.

This Chron story took a look at one big way in which the Caucus affected the outcome of a race, the District D runoff election.

Montrose, on the map an awkward appendage to a district that covers the south side of the city, provided almost all of the margin of victory for candidate Wanda Adams in Saturday’s runoff election contest against Lawrence Allen Jr.

Adams, who lives in the Hiram Clarke neighborhood several miles to the south, had worked in the Montrose area and was backed by the Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Political Caucus.

Allen never sought the endorsement of the caucus, which ran an aggressive voter turnout program in support of Adams.

The group exploited its database with contact information for more than 30,000 friendly voters throughout Harris County.

In some Montrose precincts, Adams garnered more than 85 percent of the vote. Allen’s showing was not as strong in any single precinct in the district.

Adams won with 57.2 percent of the 8,183 votes cast.

“I thank the citizens and voters of Montrose,” Adams said. “They really wanted their voice to be heard.”


Caucus president Jenifer Rene Pool said the group backed Adams and Jolanda Jones, who won a citywide council race Saturday, because they are “people who believe in equality for all and not just equality for a selected few.”

The results showed that the caucus can influence local contests “especially in a low-turnout election,” she said.

The data isn’t available online yet, but the Montrose precincts accounted for nearly all of Adams’ margin of victory. That’s what I call getting out the vote.

One interesting sidebar from that story:

The council voted in 1993 to move Montrose to D from C to balance population and because of court pressure to create more districts in which clusters of minority voters have influence.

Some gay activists, however, accused then-Councilman Vince Ryan of District C of letting Montrose go because [Annise] Parker had run against him in 1991 in hopes of galvanizing gay support in the southwest side.

Ryan denied the allegation, but added, “Maybe if they had been friendly and not run someone against me, I could have helped them prepare to run a good candidate” in future contests.

Given that Ryan will be back on the ballot in 2008 as the Democratic nominee for County Attorney, all I can say is that I hope he and the Caucus have mended their fences by now.

Still one election to go

Early voting begins today for the last election in 2007, the runoff elections in Fort Worth, which include the special election runoff for HD97. Democrat Dan Barrett picked up the endorsement of the Star Telegram as voting opens.

Democrat Dan Barrett has a ready answer for people who contend that the controversies involving Speaker Tom Craddick’s heavy hand in the Texas House don’t matter to the voters in District 97.

“Maybe only the most inside of political wonks know his name,” said Barrett, who is facing Republican Mark Shelton in the Dec. 18 runoff, “but they are upset by a style of leadership that allows Craddick and the people he works with to exercise absolute control by fair means or foul.”

Craddick’s “politics of fear and intimidation” came to a startling climax in the last session, Barrett said, when the speaker declared himself the ultimate authority in the House, but this has been an issue ever since the Midland representative took the speaker’s chair.

“That is so contrary to the very principle of democracy,” Barrett said. Even if people aren’t well-informed about the particulars of government, they still care what happens in Austin. “They want to make sure that things are going OK so they don’t have to watch every single move. That’s why they elect representatives.”

Note the contrast with Austin’s Rep. Dawnna Dukes regarding how much people know and care about Speaker Craddick. We’ll see who’s right. If you live in Fort Worth, please be sure to vote for Dan Barrett. Thanks to BOR for the link.

What’s a bond validation lawsuit?

I confess, this story from Saturday confuses me.

In a little-publicized decision, a judge in Travis County signed off this week on the validity of the Houston Independent School District’s $805 million bond election.

The pre-emptive court action means that HISD won’t be handcuffed from selling the bonds, even if critics file a lawsuit against the district for its handling of the election.

HISD took its lesson from the Waller school district, in neighboring Waller County, which has seen more than $49 million in bond money put on hold because of a legal challenge that thus far has received little backing in court.

“It’s absolutely the right thing to do,” HISD spokesman Terry Abbott said Friday. “The election is over. We need to move on and build schools.”

But the legal maneuver has infuriated critics of the bond issue, who plan to officially respond Monday.


[Three days after the November 6 election], HISD filed a bond validation lawsuit in Travis County. The school board discussed the lawsuit the following week, partly during a closed-door meeting.

Pat Mizell, a partner with the Vinson & Elkins law firm, said he filed the case in Austin because “the Austin courts are more accustomed to this type of administrative proceeding.”

“There was no attempt to hide anything,” Mizell said, adding that HISD posted legal notice of the court action and the school board meeting.

Ty Clevenger, the attorney representing the Waller County resident who is suing the Waller district, disagreed.

“It was a really dirty trick,” he said. “They had absolutely no other reason to file in Travis County other than to hide it.”

The proceedings unfolded without the knowledge of the most vocal critics of HISD’s bond plan, who said they would have appeared at the Dec. 3 hearing in the court of state District Judge John K. Dietz.

As it was, no opponents spoke in court, HISD officials said.

Okay, what the heck is a bond-validation lawsuit, and under what conditions does one file such a thing? I don’t know how to judge this action without knowing if it’s a standard thing to do or not. How often does this happen?

I can say that whatever the case, filing it in Austin with apparently minimal notice does strike me as an attempt to hide things. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, and maybe the bond opponents should have been prepared for HISD to take this action, but still. The fact that no opponents spoke in court is pretty telling.

So anyway. Dirty trick or clever gambit? Help me out here if you can. Thanks.

Jones, Adams, Sullivan, and Galloway win runoffs

And the 2007 election season is officially over for Houston.

Lawyer and former track star [Democrat] Jolanda Jones coasted to victory over education consultant Joe Treviño in the only citywide contest in Saturday’s runoff election, according to unofficial results.

Runoffs were needed to fill three City Council seats and one Houston Independent School District position when no candidate received a majority of votes in the Nov. 6 election.

Houston voters also elected city employee [Democrat] Wanda Adams and businessman Michael Sullivan to City Council seats in districts D and E, respectively. They chose Houston NAACP President [Democrat] Carol Mims Galloway for the opening on the school board.

About 26,000 people voted in the At Large #5 race, meaning that your vote counted for 40 people. For comparison purposes, the June runoff for the special election had 25,000 votes, and the December 2005 runoff had 36,000.

My congratulations to all of the newly elected Council members, all of whom ran good races and I believe will do a fine job in office. My thanks and sympathy to the runnersup, for whom the same could be said. Congratulations also to Carol Mims Galloway for her successful return to public service. And finally, a little extra salute to my neighbor Joe Trevino for his strong debut in politics. I hope we’ll see you on a future ballot.

Pasadena voters, charged with picking a new mayor in a special election Saturday, will have to return to the polls in a Jan. 19 runoff to decide between top vote-getters Johnny Isbell and Ralph Riggs.

We’ve cast our last votes until March here in Houston, but the folks in Pasadena and Fort Worth still have a job to do.

Runoff day is today for Council and HISD

The 2007 election season comes to an end in Houston (but not in Texas – see more in a minute) today as the City Council and HISD runoffs take place, with polling places open from 7 AM to 7 PM. To find your voting location, go to, then click on Voting Information…Election Day Voting Info. You can search by precinct number or by address, and see a complete listing of where to cast your ballot. And you can see the candidates’ statements about why you should vote for them before you go. Go do your civic duty, you’ll likely be speaking for about 100 of your fellow citizens when you do. The fact that I can’t even find a mention of today’s election on might have a little something to do with that.

There’s still one more election of interest this year, up in Fort Worth where TPA– and TexBlog PAC-endorsed candidate Dan Barrett will try to pick up another seat in the State House for the Democrats. Early voting starts Monday the 10th, and there are things you can do to help Barrett in this election. The conventional wisdom is that Barrett can’t win this district, which I would characterize as purple rather than Republican. Only one way to find out about that, and we’ll do so on the 18th. If you live in HD97, be sure to vote for Dan Barrett next week.

Early voting ends today for Council/HISD runoffs

Today is the last day to vote early for the City Council/HISD runoff elections. Polls will be open from 7 AM to 7 PM at one of these fine locations. If your experience is anything like mine was, when I was the first voter to show up at the West Gray Multipurpose Center a bit after 8 AM, you’ll be in and out before you even realize it.

Here’s a list of statements I have received from each of the Council candidates on the subject of why you should vote for them:

From Lawrence Allen, District D.

From Wanda Adams, District D.

From Michael Sullivan, District E.

From Annette Dwyer, District E.

From Jolanda Jones, At Large #5.

From Joe Trevino, At Large #5.

I did not get statements from the candidates in HISD II, but I think the choice there is clear: Carol Mims Galloway is the superior candidate.

Anyway, there you have it. Go be one of the select (very) few and make your voice heard. Runoff Day itself is this Saturday, December 8.

Statement from Annette Dwyer on District E runoff

(I have asked the candidates involved in next Saturday’s runoff to send me a brief statement saying why people should vote for them in that runoff. I will run the responses for candidates for each race concurrently. This statement is from Annette Dwyer in District E.)

Why should voters of District E vote for Annette Dwyer? I believe that District E voters will agree that I am uniquely qualified to serve as their next council member for three reasons: Education, experience and a demonstrated commitment to serve.

When it comes to experience, I am the only candidate in this race with a broad base of professional experience working in both the private and public sectors.

When it comes to education, residents of District E share a high level of education, and a strong commitment to supporting education to benefit our families and the future of our community. I share this commitment.

I am the only candidate in this race with a college degree. I worked hard to earn the money to put myself through college, and later through graduate school. I received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and worked for a number of years as a newspaper reporter and editor. I earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Houston Clear Lake, and put that education to use as an economic development planner with the Harris County Department of Community and Economic Development. I worked to develop county construction projects, learned the value of thoroughly analyzing contracts and budgets, and scrutinized proposed projects to make sure goals would be met and budgets adhered to.

No other candidate has this hands-on experience creating and improving infrastructure. The district relies on its council member to bring tax dollars back to the community for Capital Improvement Projects, including street improvements, flooding and drainage projects, libraries and fire stations, and other “big-ticket” items. There are a number of important projects that need to be completed in District E, and we can’t afford to have a council member who needs “on-the-job” training, or who is still learning about budgets and contracts.

I have already demonstrated that I am not afraid to stand up against special interests to fight for what is right for the community. I spent more than three years leading efforts to bring the proposed San Jacinto Rail Line to a successful resolution, avoiding construction of a rail line which would have been used to transport highly toxic chemicals through residential areas. Residents of District E should expect nothing less of their council representative, and I will continue to fight for what is right for all areas of the district.

Residents throughout District E have expressed concerns about development, and possible negative impacts on our neighborhoods. I share these concerns and will work to make sure that future development has a positive, and not a negative, impact on our community. Because I have not received money from developers, I will be able to act in the best interests of District E residents.

Since 2001, I have served on the Citizens Advisory Committee for District E, and have earned the respect and trust of other community leaders throughout the district. I continue to serve on a number of boards dealing with civic and regional issues, including flooding, transportation, police staffing, business development and park space. I have met with the mayor, city council members, police chief and county commissioners, and with representatives from TxDOT, Harris County Flood Control and other organizations and agencies to take action and address these issues.

District E Voters — I believe that District E deserves to be represented by a council member with education, experience, and a demonstrated commitment to working on issues and getting things done. I have built a reputation for taking action, solving problems and building consensus, and I ask for your vote on December 8.

For more information, please visit my web site at, or contact me at (832) 201 9009. Thank you for this opportunity to share my qualifications and my passion for public service.

Thank you, Annette Dwyer. Please click here for a statement from Michael Sullivan.

Statement from Michael Sullivan on District E runoff

(I have asked the candidates involved in next Saturday’s runoff to send me a brief statement saying why people should vote for them in that runoff. I will run the responses for candidates for each race concurrently. This statement is from Michael Sullivan in District E.)

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you and your readers as to why they should vote for Mike Sullivan for Houston City Council, District E.

I have been campaigning for this position for 2 years, meeting with voters all across the district, from Clear Lake to Kingwood, and from the Hobby Airport area to the South Belt area. Residents throughout the district have been clear in what they expect from their Council Member, and I know that I can meet and exceed their expectations.

Once elected, my first step will be to put together the very best constituent service team at City Hall. I will be respectful, responsive, and resourceful in solving problems. I will “own” your problem until it is solved. I will also conduct frequent Town Hall meetings throughout the district to receive input from the residents of District E. Besides covering general topics of interest to residents, I will rotate specific themes, i.e., police and fire/EMS, solid waste, quality of life, ongoing project updates, and other timely topics.

Public safety issues are foremost on everyone’s minds. Property crime is rampant and crimes against victims are more prevalent than anyone wants to admit. I have solid and straightforward plans on how we can improve our police coverage in our communities, resulting in “more boots on the ground tomorrow”, all while we ramp up our cadet training program. This is why the Houston Police Officers’ Union has endorsed me; they know I understand what needs to be done and that I will work with them to see it carried out.

Last, rest assured that no one will be able to return more tax dollars to District E than me. As a Community Liaison for Council Member Michael Berry since 2003, I have learned, through “hands on experience”, how to deliver projects and funding to this council district. My work with Council Member Berry has been real, not some nebulous community activity in name only. I still have a City of Houston employee ID card and am at City Hall on a regular basis, learning all that I can to serve District E once elected.

I am also the only candidate in this race who owns their own business, has prior elected office experience (as a Trustee of the Humble Independent School District), and has actually worked at City Hall. This experience clearly sets me apart from my opponent.

Let me end by asking for your vote, and to share with you that the Houston Chronicle gave me their formal endorsement this Saturday, December 01, 2007. I am both honored and proud to also have the endorsement of Wil Williams, a former candidate in the District E race. Mr. Williams has supported me based on my ability to create working relationships with the diverse group of residents in this city, and because he and I share a common vision.

For more information, please go to my website,, or call my campaign office at 713-554-9202.

Thank you.

Thank you, Michael Sullivan. I have not yet received a statement from Annette Dwyer. I will print one as soon as I do.

Endorsement watch: Runoff edition

Almost missed this today: The Chron makes its endorsements for the four runoff elections.

Jolanda Jones, Houston City Council At-Large Position 5 — Jones is a family and criminal law attorney who helped bring attention to shortcomings in the Houston Police Department’s crime lab. She has extensive community service experience and pledges to work for safer neighborhoods, increased affordable housing opportunities and a vibrant Houston economy.

Wanda Adams, Houston City Council District D — Adams is an employee in the Houston Solid Waste Department’s Recycling Go Green Initiative. Among her priorities on council will be ensuring the district has good streets and sidewalks, developing public/private partnerships to spur economic development and supporting environmental quality initiatives.

Michael Sullivan, Houston City Council District E — Sullivan is a business owner with experience in city government as the community liaison for Houston City Councilman Michael Berry. He is also a past Humble Independent School District trustee who is active in various business development and community service groups. His goals on council include holding the city to high standards of fiscal responsibility and open constituent communication.

Carol Mims Galloway, Houston Independent School District, District II — Galloway is a former city councilwoman and president of the Houston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She held the school board position she now seeks from 1992-99. Her opponent is Michael Yarbrough, also a former council member, who the Harris County Appraisal District contends wrongly accepted property tax discounts for years.

The first two are repeats from the November election, the second two are new, as the Chron had previously touted Wil Williams in District E and Reginald Adams in HISD II. I’m not exactly sure why they couldn’t have this done before the start of early voting, but whatever. And it’s always interesting to note, as in the case of the Galloway endorsement, when the Chron feels the need to call out the other candidate for something he or she had done. In this case, I can’t say I’m surprised. But it’s still interesting.

Statement from Jolanda Jones on At Large #5 runoff

(I have asked the candidates involved in next Saturday’s runoff to send me a brief statement saying why people should vote for them in that runoff. I will run the responses for candidates for each race concurrently. This statement is from Jolanda Jones in At Large #5.)

I am running for Houston City Council because I believe in a Houston where a kid like me can grow up to be a successful lawyer and businesswoman, a homeowner, a candidate for City Council and most importantly, a mom who can afford to give her son the opportunity for a bright future.

My name is Jolanda Jones, and I would be honored by your support. I’m a criminal law and family law attorney, and was instrumental in exposing the serious problems at the HPD Crime Lab.

I currently serve on the LARA board, where I’m working to redevelop abandoned properties with affordable housing. I was recently re-confirmed by a unanimous vote of City Council.

I grew up very poor in the Third Ward – but I’m one of the lucky ones.

  • I had access to good public schools, after-school sports and other activities, and a strong community.
  • And I used that opportunity to become a Rhodes Scholar nominee and Female Athlete of the Century at the University of Houston.
  • As an athlete and scholar I could have attended many of the nation’s most distinguished universities on full scholarship – but I chose to go to the University of Houston because I love this town. I still love this town and I’m running for City Council to make it better.

While I’m interested in working on many issues, my primary areas of focus are public safety, affordable housing, quality of life – especially as it relates to economic development – and improving educational opportunities for youth.

  • I want to see our police force up to full strength, more coordination between law enforcement agencies and more accountability for our public safety tax dollars.
  • I have strong views on improving our affordable housing programs and protecting our city’s long-term investment in affordable housing.
  • I believe that improving our quality of life is the best way to make Houston attractive for businesses to start here, stay here, or move here.
  • And I believe every Houston leader should make a commitment to giving our kids the same opportunity to succeed that I had – a good public education and access to positive and productive after-school activities.

Thank you for considering my candidacy.

Thank you, Jolanda Jones. Please click here for a statement from Joe Trevino.

Statement from Joe Trevino on At Large #5 runoff

(I have asked the candidates involved in next Saturday’s runoff to send me a brief statement saying why people should vote for them in that runoff. I will run the responses for candidates for each race concurrently. This statement is from Joe Trevino in At Large #5.)

As a public servant for over 30 years, I have left my mark on Houston. If anything, I hope my legacy in that regard is a positive one. I am now in a position to serve Houston’s expansive and diverse community in a new capacity. Over the years I gained extensive experience in prioritizing tax dollars, while also ensuring that the critical needs of constituents were met. I believe that my experience as a public school administrator will be useful on council. I am someone who has ground-level management experience as to the needs of the overall community and am uniquely qualified to serve all Houstonians. While Ms. Jones is also a very good candidate, I think that Houston would be better served with someone with my managerial background.

Thank you, Joe Trevino. Please click here for a statement from Jolanda Jones.

Statement from Lawrence Allen on District D runoff

(I have asked the candidates involved in next Saturday’s runoff to send me a brief statement saying why people should vote for them in that runoff. I will run the responses for candidates for each race concurrently. This statement is from Lawrence Allen in District D.)

My name is Lawrence Allen and I am asking you for your support for Houston City Council, District D. I have been a life long resident of District D, and have given back to the community as a Teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal in District D schools (Dowling Middle School, Jack Yates High School and Jones High School). I graduated from Jones High School and eventually returned to serve as Principal. I am currently serving District D as an elected Member of the Texas State Board of Education. During the last legislative session I represented Houston Independent School District, rallying support for the issues that affect our community schools. As a proud husband and father, I am committed to rearing my children, along with my wife Clothild Allen, in the community. I believe that District D has much to offer, and in the hope that our children will grow up with the same desire to give back to their community.

The people of District D should vote for me because I will always have their best interest at heart. District D is experiencing a change and I want to nurture that change. Businesses are prospering, the community bond is strengthening and I believe that the District is ready for a visionary with new ideas.

I have consistently expressed that my priorities for District D are quality of life (after school programs and park development), housing (mixed income housing and structural integrity), infrastructure (flood control and road improvement) and safety, but above all else, I want the people to tell me what they want. I want to be their voice.

Thank you, Lawrence Allen. Please click here for a statement from Wanda Adams.

Statement from Wanda Adams on District D runoff

(I have asked the candidates involved in next Saturday’s runoff to send me a brief statement saying why people should vote for them in that runoff. I will run the responses for candidates for each race concurrently. This statement is from Wanda Adams in District D.)

Today I say thank you to everyone in District D for your support in the general election, and I humbly ask for your vote in the December 8th run-off election. It is a privilege and an honor to have received the most votes of the seven exceptional candidates in the November general election. Voters have shown that they believe that “Experience is the Difference,” and experience is needed to improve the quality of life for all residents of District D. Experience is also needed to keep our community moving forward.

Each day that I walk the neighborhoods of District D, I am reminded of what makes our community so great—the people. I have had the honor to meet, work alongside, and befriend many wonderful neighbors in our district. I will consider it a true privilege to serve all residents of District D as their representative on Houston City Council once I am elected.

Helping to create good, healthy, quality lives for Houstonians has always been my passion. Over the years, whether as a student at TSU or as an employee of this great city, I have served the citizens of Houston by working directly with the Super Neighborhoods and the civic clubs of District D to address issues of infrastructure, affordable housing, and to increase constituent services. My commitment to the environment has led me to conduct community education workshops, which educate citizens about recycling and solid waste procedures of the City of Houston. As a result of these efforts, the Mayor asked me to coordinate Houston’s “Go Green Initiative.”

To best realize the limitless potential of District D, all residents deserve to have a voice. Most importantly, they deserve accessibility to their councilmember who will work not only to confront their issues but to get resolutions for their concerns.

In District D:

I have faith in our ability to create significant economic development opportunities;

I have faith in our ability to improve the environmental quality of our neighborhoods;

I have faith in our ability to increase public safety for all citizens;

I have faith in our ability to provide affordable housing options for those who dream of home ownership;

I have faith in our ability to improve the quality of the roads and sidewalks that lead them home.

These issues impact District D every day, and the issues I will spend my time on council addressing.

We must preserve what we love about our community and have the determination to fight for what we believe in. I encourage you to elect me as your council member because I have the wisdom and the skill to make a difference. Experience is the difference!

I hope to have your vote on December 8th.

Thank you, Wanda Adams. Please click here for a statement from Lawrence Allen.

HISD Trustee runoff overview

One HISD Trustee race, in District II, has gone to a runoff. Here’s the overview story for that.

Both candidates in the runoff for the District II seat, Carol Mims Galloway and Michael Yarbrough, say they have serious concerns about the consolidations proposed in the Houston Independent School District’s $805 million bond package that was narrowly approved by voters this month.

They also agree that the district needs to improve vocational education. And Galloway and Yarbrough say they are troubled by the district’s performance pay program for employees.

The candidates, however, say voters have a clear choice.

Galloway touts her experience as the District II trustee from 1992-99. Yarbrough says the board needs a fresh face.


“What sets me apart from my opponent, first of all, is character,” said Galloway, who is president of the Houston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “Second of all, my proven commitment in the past for being accessible and inclusive of the community and the constituents I serve.”

The Harris County Appraisal District contends that Yarbrough wrongly accepted property tax discounts for years. The tax office says he could owe more than $7,770, plus penalties, for the over-65 homestead exemption he received.

“My paperwork shows something different from theirs,” Yarbrough said, declining to comment further.

He said Galloway is more committed to those who encouraged her to run than to the students, and that HISD’s high dropout rate reflects on past trustees.

Galloway said she has the support of former candidates Larry Williams, who finished third, and Reginald Adams, who finished last. The other candidate, Charles McCloud, supports Yarbrough.

I thought Reginald Adams was the real fresh face in this election, and I was sorry to see him not get any traction. I’m glad to see he’s supporting Galloway, because Yarbrough has a pretty questionable past.

Yarbrough, who graduated from Texas Southern University with a degree in political science, said he would work to reduce dropouts. He also hopes to solicit money from businesses to raise teacher pay.

Voters, he said, are not bothered by his past legal troubles. In 2000, he was acquitted on charges that he had accepted an illegal campaign contribution. He also was tried twice on charges that he had accepted bribes in exchange for votes, but both trials ended in mistrials because the juries deadlocked.

Here’s an old Houston Press article that goes into that in more detail. I don’t have a vote in this race, but if I did it would be going to Galloway.

Early voting starts today for city election runoffs

Early voting for the City Council and HISD runoff elections begins today and runs through Tuesday.

WHAT: The second and final round of voting to fill the four public offices.

WHY: No candidate got a majority of the vote in those contests in the first round this month.

WHO CAN VOTE: Registered voters who live in the city of Houston can vote in the only citywide race, for council At-Large Position 5. The candidates are Jolanda Jones and Joe Trevino.

Residents of Council District D in central and southern parts of the city also can vote in the district race between Wanda Adams and Lawrence Allen Jr.

Residents of Council District E in northeast and southeast parts of the city also can vote in the district race between Mike Sullivan and Annette Dwyer.

Residents of HISD board District 2 on the north side can vote in the race between Carol Mims Galloway and Michael Yarbrough.

WHEN: For in-person early voting, 20 balloting stations are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday; 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Votes may also be cast early by mail.

HOW: For voting information, call the Harris County Clerk’s Office at 713-755-6965.


  • Main office: Harris County Administration Building, 1001 Preston, 1st floor
  • Acres Homes: Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, 6719 West Montgomery
  • North: Hardy Senior Center, 11901 West Hardy
  • Alief: Alief Regional Branch Library, 7979 South Kirkwood
  • Southwest: Bayland Park Community Center, 6400 Bissonnet near Hillcroft
  • Near west side: Tracy Gee Community Center, 3599 Westcenter
  • Far west side: Altharetta Yeargin Art Museum, 901 Yorkchester
  • Spring Branch: Harris County Courthouse Annex #35, 1721 Pech
  • Southeast: Palm Center, 5300 Griggs Road (Enter JP/Constable door)
  • Astrodome area: Fiesta Mart Inc., 8130 Kirby
  • South Houston: The Power Center, 12401 South Post Oak
  • Sunnyside: Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, 4605 Wilmington
  • Southeast: H.C.C.S. Southeast College, 6815 Rustic
  • Clear Lake: Freeman Branch Library, 16616 Diana Lane
  • Kashmere: Julia C. Hester House, 2020
  • Kingwood: HC Library-Kingwood Branch, 4102 Rustic Woods
  • Moody Park: Moody Park Recreation Center, 3725 Fulton
  • Northeast: BeBe Tabernacle Methodist Church, 7210 Langley
  • Neartown: Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray
  • East side: Ripley House, 4410 Navigation

Here’s a list of the interviews I did with candidates who are in the runoff:

Joe Trevino – At Large #5 – MP3
Jolanda Jones – At Large #5 – MP3
Lawrence Allen – District D – MP3
Wanda Adams – District D – MP3
Annette Dwyer – District E – MP3

I did not have the opportunity to interview District E candidate Michael Sullivan, or either of the two HISD candidates. I am in the process of asking the Council candidates to send me a statement about why you should vote for them in the runoff. I will print those as I get one for each candidate involved in a particular runoff.

District D runoff overview

The last of the three City Council runoffs to get an overview story is in District D, and it gets a pretty decent story for its wait.

The runoff for the District D seat on Houston City Council will be won and lost along Cullen in the southern reaches of the city. For this is where candidates Wanda Adams and Lawrence Allen Jr. have their storefront campaign headquarters, 12 blocks apart.

The area also is where both candidates have worked on some of Houston’s grittier problems, earning their credentials as grass-roots public servants. Cullen, its empty storefronts and busted sidewalks intertwined with signs of redevelopment and neighborhood pride, symbolizes a district full of need and promise.

Adams, on leave as a coordinator of the city’s Go Green Initiative for recycling and other environmental programs, has the support of the district’s outgoing councilwoman, Ada Edwards. At least three other council members are in Adams’ corner, along with former Mayor Lee Brown.

Allen, on leave as special projects coordinator for the Houston Independent School District, where he rose from wood shop teacher to high school principal, is backed by at least four of the five candidates who did not make the runoff produced by the Nov. 6 election.

Allen also is an elected member of the state Board of Education, having replaced his mother, state Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, who is helping him in the city campaign.


The candidates differ somewhat on property taxes, though — an issue that has echoed at City Hall.

Rejecting conservatives’ call for a substantial tax rate cut, City Council recently lowered the municipal property tax rate by an eighth of a cent to 64.37 cents a year per $100 of assessed value. That would result in a savings of $1.25 on property with taxable value of $100,000.

Adams, 40, said homeowners deserve a tax rate cut, especially if rising property tax payments threaten to make their residences unaffordable.

“We can come up with ways to see if we can bring it to a medium,” she said, meaning the city should carefully balance its property tax needs against the ability of homeowners to pay.

Allen, 46, said the city should not be afraid to try to ask for justifiable tax increases.

“If the people understand the needs of the city (to improve services), they will not object to contributing more,” he said. “We do it in church every Sunday; we trust in something good.”

Asked how he might do things differently from the outgoing councilwoman, Allen said “there are some tremendous disconnects” between district residents and City Hall, and that he would work to bridge the communication gaps.

Adams, on the other hand, said she would operate differently from Edwards by opening a branch service office in the Fort Bend County part of the district.

All due respect to Wanda Adams, but I’m with Lawrence Allen on the question of city taxes. Having said that, I’ll pull a Peter Brown here and say that both candidates are fine by me. I fully expect that whoever wins will do a good job.

Runoff overviews: District E, At Large 5

There are four local races remaining in the 2007 election season, and as of today we’ve gotten overviews for two of them. First up is in District E, where Kingwood’s Mike Sullivan is up against Clear Lake’s Annette Dwyer.

Voters who do come to the polls will have to decide between two candidates with largely similar views on key issues and who disagree with some of the more controversial policies of Mayor Bill White.

Both candidates, however, have pledged to work more closely with the administration under Houston’s strong-mayor system — in contrast to [Addie] Wiseman, a frequent critic.

That at least somewhat addresses a point I raised about the prospects for Mayor White to have a smooth final term. We’ll see what that means in practice.

The two candidates have divergent backgrounds and they split, in varying degrees, on other issues.

Dwyer, a former Harris County economic development worker, now supports the city’s red-light camera program, though she said she probably would not have voted for it originally. But she wants engineering studies to show that the signals are timed to increase safety. Sullivan says he is “strongly opposed” to the cameras.

Sullivan, who owns a marine and industrial paint company, also does not support Safe Clear, the mayor’s mandatory freeway towing program. Dwyer says she would like to study whether it has been worth the $3 million annual cost.

There also is some division on the idea of a drainage fee to fund overdue projects in District E and the city. Sullivan said he would not support the idea, though he supports a “strong” capital-improvement plan. Dwyer is noncommittal, but said she might support a fee if the revenue was placed in a dedicated fund with identified projects spread fairly across the city.

“People should not have to live in this fear of repeated flooding,” she said.

The endorsement game is splitting along geographical lines, as I noted on Monday. Will Williams is in Sullivan’s corner, while Manisha Mehta has come out in favor of Dwyer. Watch those turnout numbers during early voting to get a feel for who’s going to win this one.

Endorsements and turnout projections are pretty much the entire story of the At Large #5 overview, which spends more time analyzing what happened in the general election than it does on any issue the candidates might want to discuss. It’s true, as the article says, that Jolanda Jones and Joe Trevino are ideologically very similar, which may be why both of them managed to get the endorsement of Council Member Peter Brown, as both Matt Stiles and Greg Wythe have noted. But last I checked, same values != same priorities, and so it might have been nice to know what sort of thing the two candidates are emphasizing as they prepare to rally their troops to the polls. Maybe we’ll get that story after one of them gets sworn in.

One last thing:

Trevino hopes his personal success and professional experience might sway the critical swing bloc — Anglo voters.

“I have managed multimillion-dollar budgets,” he said. “As a school administrator, I have experience working with people. You hire, you fire, you select, you train, you transfer and you always look for the best match for every position.

“I’ve always surrounded myself with people that are smarter than me,” Trevino added. “If you can do that without being threatened, you can be very, very successful.”

Jones also is emphasizing her up-by-the-bootstraps biography and coalition-building résumé.

“I’ve had sufficient life experiences, world travel, professional experiences to be able to listen to the citizens, negotiate with other council members,” Jones said. “I have run a business since 1998,” she added, referring to her law practice.

Jones has spent years working on local causes and building bridges with various constituencies. She joined the Mexican-American student group at the University of Houston as an undergraduate, the Asian-American group during law school and marched with Hispanic janitors when they went on strike last year.

“This is the problem with term limits: You have two very good candidates running against each other,” [Rice political science professor Bob] Stein said. “Why? Because they won’t run for anything but an open seat.”

On that point, I wholehertedly agree.

TLCV endorses Dan Barrett

More good news for Dan Barrett:

The Texas League of Conservation Voters (TLCV), a coalition of Texans committed to clean air, clean water, and access to public lands, water, fish and wildlife, has endorsed Dan Barrett for state Representative in the District 97 Special Election run-off.

“Dan Barrett is the candidate most committed to cleaning up Fort Worth’s air, holding polluters accountable, and ensuring that Texas leads the way toward an independent, clean, and sustainable energy future ,” said TLCV’s executive director, Colin Leyden.

“Unlike his opponent, Dan Barrett has pledged to support a new vision of Texas politics. He rejects the dangerous and extreme ideology that claims we can’t have cleaner air, that climate change isn’t real, and that we can’t have both a strong economy and healthy environment,” said Leyden.

In responses to a TLCV District 97 questionnaire, Barrett indicated his support for the following issues that are important to TLCV and conservation voters:

– requiring power plants up-wind of Fort Worth to significantly reduce NOx emissions in order to reduce the burden on local businesses;

– requiring the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to consider cumulative impacts of new coal plant permits in conjunction with all other pollutant emitters;

– working with nearby cement kilns to adopt and meet the best emission control technologies and standards being met by other cement kilns in the U.S

– and helping Texas reduce green-house gas emissions by investing in renewable power sources, supporting viable public transportation systems between major Texas cities, and increasing investment in proven scientific methods for carbon reduction.

Texas leads the nation in greenhouse gas emissions, and the Fort Worth-area consistently ranks as one of the worst cities in the nation for air quality. Barrett’s opponent, Mark Shelton, did not fill out the TLCV questionnaire despite repeated requests.

TLCV is a non-partisan organization that supports candidates who are committed to conserving our state’s natural resources. TLCV endorses candidates using several criteria, including: voting history on conservation issues, campaign platform, and personal efforts toward protecting the water, air and land in Texas.

Excellent. As always, if you’re feeling generous, you can show some love to Dan.

By the way, I had mentioned before that the runoff date is December 18. Turns out that the city of Fort Worth has a Council runoff to do as well, and it wanted to do both of them on the 11th, but Governor Perry said no.

The governor’s office notified Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief of the runoff date Monday.

“We worked closely with the city and the county to determine a permissible election day to allow adequate time for the campaigns to rev back up and educate voters on the candidates who were running,” said Krista Moody, a spokeswoman for Perry.

Asked whether an election day closer to Christmas might hurt turnout, Moody said, “We surely hope not.”

Several county officials were expecting Perry to pick Dec. 11. Five early voting locations and 63 polling places had been reserved for that date, said Gayle Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the elections office. Holding the election a week later shouldn’t cost the county more money, though staffing may be more difficult, she said.

When asked Monday how election officials felt about Perry’s decision, Fort Worth City Secretary Marty Hendrix said: “That’s his prerogative. We still get to hold a joint election, which will allow us to save money.”

Early voting is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 10-14.

The candidates in the runoffs were decided Nov. 6. Running for the House seat are Democrat Dan Barrett and Republican Mark Shelton. Joel Burns and Juan Rangel Jr. are in the nonpartisan District 9 council runoff.

Barrett’s campaign released a statement saying that Perry chose the date to help Shelton. Shelton said the announcement will allow his runoff campaign to start in earnest.

Art Brender, chairman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, predicted last week that Perry would pick Dec. 18 to reduce turnout.

“He considers low turnout to be advantageous to Republicans, but I think he’ll be surprised,” Brender said.

Stephanie Klick, chairwoman of the Tarrant County Republican Party, said a later election date will give the campaigns more time to reach voters. Runoffs always yield low turnout, she said.

“It’s not necessarily about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about turnout and who turns their people out,” Klick said.

After Perry’s announcement, the council approved the Dec. 18 election date for the District 9 race.

Nice try, Governor. Ms. Klick is correct, races like these are about turnout. If you’re in Fort Worth, please make sure you show up for this one. Burka and Vince have more.

Dan Barrett gets ParentPAC endorsement

Always good to see the Texas ParentPAC get involved in an election, especially considering their track record last year:

The bipartisan Texas Parent PAC today announced its endorsement of Dan Barrett for state representative in House District 97, which includes the cities of Fort Worth, Crowley, Benbrook, and Edgecliff Village.

“Dan Barrett is a skilled, experienced advocate who will stand up for the needs of schoolchildren and their parents,” said Texas Parent PAC board member Pam Meyercord of Dallas. “He will be a courageous, independent legislator who acts in the public interest and steers clear of divisive partisan politics.”

Meyercord said Barrett will work to change the way the state house does business so there is real progress on solving problems and less political bickering in Austin.

Texas Parent PAC was created to elect strong and effective state legislators who are committed to strengthening public schools. More than 700 parents and business leaders have contributed to support this grassroots political committee formed in 2005.

“Unlike his opponent, Dan Barrett opposes taking money away from public schools to fund private school tuition vouchers,” said Ellen Jones of Euless, a Texas Parent PAC board member. “Barrett understands that Texas taxpayers cannot afford to subsidize private schooling through voucher schemes. Our limited state and local funds must be used to strengthen public schools in every neighborhood so children can succeed academically and their communities and families prosper.”

The date for this runoff is December 18 – yes, one week before Christmas. You can imagine what the turnout will be like. BOR has more on Barrett, and on his strangely anti-CHIP opponent. Check it out, and if you feel so inclined, chip in a few bucks to Barrett’s campaign.

Wrapup roundup

A few more election wrapup pieces to finish off the week…

Joe Trevino talks to Carolyn Feibel about how he made it to the runoff in At Large #5.

I asked Trevino who he thought his supporters were. He identified three voting blocs that he cultivated:

* HISD teachers and staff: Trevino worked 32 years in the district, so he placed calls to former colleagues and union leaders. That seems like a good strategy, considering the HISD bond proposal drove many voters, and presumably HISD workers, to the polls.
* East Side voters: For much of his career, Trevino worked for schools in the heavily Hispanic East Side, including as principal of Austin High School. “There was a lot of name recognition out there,” he said. “I was the principal that handed them their diploma.” Presumably, voters who came out in District I for the Rodriguez/Marron race also recognized Trevino’s name.
* Runners in Memorial Park: Talk about a simple campaign strategy. On the weekends, at least half a dozen times, Trevino set up a little table, stocked an ice chest with water and beer, and greeted runners.

“Right now is the marathon season, so a lot of people are out getting ready,” he explained. “Most marathoners are educated people who vote.”

Number 3 is my favorite reason, and a pretty good idea for a fairly low-money campaign. Number 1 seems like the biggest driver of votes, especially since as Marc Campos notes, Latino voters did their job in helping to pass the HISD bond. I don’t know what the turnout numbers look like yet, and I confess to being a bit skeptical about the District I race being that big a factor. Fewer than 8000 votes were cast there, compared to over 98,000 in AL5; if you assume half of them voted for Trevino (in such a big field, it’s a stretch to assume anything higher), that’s barely 20% of his vote total. If you subtract that entire amount, he still places ahead of Tom Nixon. I’m not trying to discount Trevino’s performance in the East End – I’ve no doubt he did well there – I’m just saying it was only one piece of the puzzle. He’d have had to do well all over the city to really compete, and clearly he did just that.

The Caucus Blog notes that with the exception of Kevin Hoffman and his close loss in the HCCS Trustee race, every candidate and proposition endorsed by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus won or made it to the runoff. I’d say their support of the HISD bond was the biggest victory for them. The Caucus has gotten a lot of good results for its endorsements lately; they should be proud of what they did this cycle.

Finally, Miya Shay attends a Greater Houston Partnership postmortem of the election and gets a few good quotes from the assembled panel. Check it out.

UPDATE: Two more of interest, from Burka on HD97, and Grits on the failed Smith County jail bond.

Prop 15 not so popular in Travis County

So Proposition 15 passed by a solid margin, with over 61% of voters statewide supporting it. But it turns out that Travis County, home of Prop 15 uber-supporter Lance Armstrong, nearly rejected it. What’s up with that?

Proposition 15 just squeaked past there, winning 50.29 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results, as opponents staged a late drive in Central Texas to defeat it.

Williamson, Burnet, Blanco, Caldwell and Bastrop counties voted against Proposition 15, and Hays barely supported it. Most of the state’s urban counties — Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and El Paso — were on the Proposition 15 bandwagon.

Here’s a spreadsheet of the returns for Prop 15 in each county, sorted by approval percentage. A total of 60 counties voted against Prop 15, the largest being Williamson (9,292-13,739), Lubbock (5.455-6,161), and Smith (9,797-9,823). Most of the naysayers were much smaller, and the total margin of defeat in all 60 counties combined was about 10,000 votes. The margin of victory in Tarrant County alone (43,507-27,107) would have been enough to overcome them.

As such, I find the crowing by the opponents to be, well, a little odd.

“Most people think of Travis County as a liberal big-government haven,” said Wes Benedict, chair of the Travis County Libertarian Party, which opposed the proposal. “Seeing Prop. 15 almost defeated in Lance Armstrong’s backyard is very satisfying.”

I know I just said that there’s no “almost” in politics. You win or you lose – there are no consolation prizes, no moral victories, and as we well know these days, no assurance that a close win will have any temporizing effect on the winner. That said, obviously one looks at each election’s results to see where opportunities exist to make gains in the future. Only problem here is that Prop 15 will never be on the ballot again. It’s enshrined in the Constitution, and the money has been authorized for allocation. Passage by one vote or a million, it’s all the same. If you want to claim a moral victory for almost defeating it in one particular county, even though actually doing so would have meant nothing for the final outcome, well, if it makes you feel better, I guess go right ahead. I confess, I don’t quite get it.

David Rogers, an attorney who lives in Pflugerville, said he voted against Proposition 15 but supported several other proposals on the ballot.

Proposition 15 “is a blank check to whoever the researchers are,” he said, “and generally, I think blank checks are bad ideas.”

Rogers said he wasn’t swayed by Armstrong’s or Perry’s participation but did take note of a group that called the proposal a cancer tax.

That group was Austinite Don Zimmerman’s political action committee, Prop15 Families Against Cancer Tax. The group organized late and raised just $3,500, Zimmerman said. But it put up 50 signs in the area and held a news conference and a debate.

Proposition 15 supporters acknowledged that made a difference.

“A late-in-the-game, solid push by the opposition — centered in Travis County — bounced the numbers down a little,” Lance Armstrong Foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane said, “but not enough to detract from the tremendous victory the proposition received.”

Zimmerman said that many Austin-area opponents of Proposition 15 are, like him, supporters of presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Lake Jackson Republican who’s gained traction on the Web in recent months and this week received more than $4.2 million in campaign contributions in nearly 24 hours.

“Ron Paul supporters do not believe in socialism,” said Austinite Robert Morrow, a local Paul volunteer, “so they targeted this proposition as the worst example of wasteful big-government spending.”

And they failed to achieve any practical effect whatsoever. You can draw your own analogy to the Paul for President campaign, or indeed to his entire career in politics, as you see fit.

Why was Sue Lovell’s race so close?

The City Hall blog asks Sue Lovell why she thinks she won by such an unimpressive margin against Griff Griffin.

Lovell claims that she purposely did not campaign, instead choosing to spread her “political capital” to three other council hopefuls: Jolanda Jones, Wanda Adams, and James Rodriguez. Lovell gave money to all three.

Rodriguez won outright, and Jones and Adams each made runoffs. “I won three times last night,” Lovell said.

Why did she adopt this somewhat risky tactic? It seems Lovell thought her seat was relatively safe, and she wanted to support those she believes in. And supporting those three would help her consolidate political power in the long term. She has her eye on the Harris County Clerk’s office in 2010.

But why did “Griff” do so well? Lovell has answers to that, too:

1) Early voters were driven to the polls by churchs opposed to the HISD bond, she said. And some church voters don’t like Lovell because she’s gay.

2) “Griff” has run six times before, so he has name recognition.
Unlike Johnson’s first-time challenger in District B, Kenneth Perkins, for example.

Several things:

– First, my thanks to Carolyn Feibel for asking this question. I was thinking about doing something like this myself, and she saved me the trouble.

– Besides money, what does “political capital” mean here, and why would spending it to help others prevent her from running a vigorous enough campaign on her own behalf? Looking at the eight days out report, Lovell’s financial resources were fairly modest. A more detailed accounting of what she did and gave would help better evaluate her actions.

– Also unexplored here is what kind of blowback Lovell might have gotten for taking sides as she did in these races, two of which were strictly Democrat-versus-Democrat while the third featured multiple Dems as well. I heard some grumbling about this at the election night party I attended as I expressed my surprise about Lovell’s close race, and while Carl Whitmarsh doesn’t name names in his comment at Greg’s place, it’s pretty clear who he’s referring to. It would not surprise me at all to learn that more than a few supporters of Jones’, Adams’, and Rodriguez’s Democratic opponents cast votes for Griff as payback. This is why you often see incumbent politicians stay out of contentious primaries.

– I gotta say, I always thought it was axiomatic that you always take your own re-election seriously. If you’re not unopposed, you run to win, because the streets are littered with former officeholders who took their seat for granted and woke up the day after to find themselves unemployed. See “Heflin, Talmadge” for a recent example of this. It’s one thing for a Bill White, with his infinite resources and truly irrelevant opposition, to lend a hand to a colleague or two. It’s another for someone who had won by a small margin in a low-turnout runoff after a bruising campaign to take her eye off the ball. Note too that while the Mayor may have helped out some other folks, he still ran hard for his own re-election. As someone who thinks Council Member Lovell has done a good job, and who would have been appalled to see her get ousted by the likes of Griff, I hope she takes this to heart, because I fear she may get a real opponent next time.

– Finally, I’m being a bit unfair to Griff, for whom I at least saw a few signs around town – more than I saw for Lovell, now that I think about it. He still didn’t do any actual campaigning, as far as I could tell, but I’ll concede that he had some name ID going for him, and unlike some of the other perennials that litter the ballot, he was something of a known entity before he made the transition to eternal candidate. Which just gets back to my prior point.

There is no such thing as “almost” in electoral politics. Lovell’s race may have been unexpectedly close, but the bottom line is that she won. Further, she achieved her stated goal, in that Rodriguez won, and Jones and Adams are in positions to win. She’s entitled to look at Tuesday’s results as an unqualified success if she chooses to do so. But as long as Lovell will be on future ballots, there may be a cost to her actions as well, even if it doesn’t get billed to her in this cycle. It’s worth it to keep that in mind.

So okay, maybe Feibel didn’t save me any actual work by asking the question. But I’m glad she asked it anyway.

Why did the jail bond lose?

So, why did the jail bond fail? Ed Emmett would like to know.

County Judge Ed Emmett said Wednesday that he still was analyzing the loss — the first defeat of a county bond request in 20 years — and will consult with Commissioners Court on whether to hold another referendum for the jail project, possibly as soon as next year.

“We always have jail overcrowding,” Emmett said.

“Sooner or later, we will have to have more cells.”

You all know how I feel about this, so I’ll refrain from beating the dead horse. I’ll just say how nice it would be if the Chron, which as I said before has done some great reporting on the overcrowded jails, would do some more reporting on how the jails got to be overcrowded in the first place, and what we could do about it without building more jails. If nothing else, someone needs to explain this to Emmett.

I should note further that one explanation that has arisen for the defeat of this bond is the proposed location for the new jail, on Buffalo Bayou. Christof explores that aspect of the issue, which was curiously omitted from this story even though it got mentioned in an editorial (the op-ed page on also linked to Christof’s post). A little better communication between Editorial and the City Desk, fellas!

In a pre-election poll, the jail bond had the support of only 38 percent of African-Americans likely to vote, said Bob Stein, a Rice University political scientist who conducted the polling.

Franklin Jones, a Texas Southern University political scientist, said jail referendums often do not fare well among some African-Americans, who believe society should invest more in education and other programs and less on jails.

“It becomes a question of priorities and spending,” Jones said. “In the black community, many believe that if the money was spent on the front end, you wouldn’t need these factories and warehouses at the back end.”

Seems eminently logical to me. If you think it’s a poor use of your money, why should you vote for it?

Former Harris County District Clerk Charles Bacarisse, who is running against Emmett in the March Republican primary for county judge, said the county’s five bond requests would have fared better if Emmett had done a better job justifying why they were needed.

Bacarisse publicly supported each of the county’s bond requests on the ballot, but he refused Wednesday to disclose whether he voted for the bonds.

“I won’t say that I voted for all of them,” he said. “I just don’t like to talk about how I personally vote on any subject.”

Emmett said, “If the bonds were going to raise taxes, why did he say he was for them earlier? This is a guy who says he is for the package, but then says he is against it after the jail portion loses.”

Emmett said he and other officials would learn from this election and wage a better campaign if Commissioners Court decides to seek another referendum.

What was it I said about how this would play out between Emmett and Bacarisse? Oh, yes, it was “I think each side takes some credit and tries to pin some blame on the other”. Sometimes this gig is just too easy.

Prediction review

So how good were my predictions yesterday? Let’s take a look.

Mayor – The over/under line for Mayor White is 90%. I think he just slides over it.

Mayor White got 86%, so the unders won. Still, that’s pretty impressive, better than Bob Lanier’s third-term total, and given that the undervote in this race was significantly less than what it was in other Council races, the best any of his detractors can say is that there might have been people who weren’t motivated to vote at all rather than cast a meaningless vote for a fringe opponent. If so, then I’d like to encourage such people to follow the same strategy in 2008 and beyond. And I’d also like to take a minute to make fun of Jared Woodfill:

The mayor still faces challenges in the coming years, including rising worker health care costs, massive pension debt and growing public safety needs.

Up first, though, is a potentially contentious City Council debate today about setting the property tax rate.


Jared Woodfill, Harris County Republican Party chair, said he hoped to persuade enough council conservatives and force the mayor to compromise.

“They are hearing from Houstonians, and I think you’ll see some movement,” he said. “If not, they’re not listening to the people.”

Yes, I got one of those calls yesterday, asking me to contact Council Member Michael Berry and ask him to quit screwing around with his talk radio lineup and actually attend a Council meeting demand deeper tax cuts. You’d think they’d have a better use for a robodialer on Election Day, but there you have it.

White’s critics also see the next two years playing out as a potential platform for a gubernatorial race. That has encouraged them to try to frame White’s record on their terms.

“He’s positioning himself for a run in 2010,” Woodfill said. “We’re going to be ready for him.”

In the same way you were ready to get a Republican into the runoff for At Large #5 and to defeat the Cy-Fair ISD bond? This is me quaking in my boots.

Enough of that. Back to the prediction review:

Council At Large #5 – It’s tough, but I’m going to guess Zaf Tahir and Jolanda Jones make it into the runoff.

I was half right, as Joe Trevino joined Jolanda Jones in the runoff. Tahir finished fifth, after Tom Nixon and Jack Christie. I confess that the other scenarios I envisioned for AL5 included Nixon and Christie opposing Jones, but I didn’t think Trevino had a realistic shot at it. Shame on me for that, especially since Trevino had gotten my vote.

Council Districts D, E, and I – I think Wanda Adams will lead the field in D, and I think I is close enough that there will still be a runoff even with third candidate Brad Batteau drawing three percent or so.

Adams did lead the field in D, so I got that right. No runoff in I, however, and no close race either, as James Rodriguez won in a surprisingly (to me) strong showing. And Brad Batteau got about nine percent, not three.

Other contested Council races – Incumbents across the board. No surprises.

Incumbents did win across the board, but Sue Lovell’s unrobust win against Griff Griffin has to count as a surprise.

HISD bond referendum – Passes with a close margin, say 52-48.

Passed by the slightly closer margin of 51.2 – 48.8. I’m claiming victory on this one.

Harris County bonds – All pass, none in any danger of not passing.

I’m happy to say I was wrong about this. Prop 3 failed, and three of the other five won by the skin of their teeth. Question: how will the split vote be seen for Ed Emmett (who pushed the bonds) and Charles Bacarisse (who opposed them)? I think each side takes some credit and tries to pin some blame on the other, but I don’t know how it all spins out.

State constitutional amendments – All pass, though some of the bond proposals are close, say less than 55%.

All passed, and the bonds had the lowest margins, but they ranged from 58 to 62 percent, so I was off as far as that goes.

So overall, not too bad. I was half-right about most things, which would probably make for a good epitaph for me some day. Other good assessments of the day’s activities come from Lose an Eye, Los Dos Professors, Houtopia, and Greg. Grits reviews the jail bond referenda, while Vince rounds up the school bond elections. Christof has an explanation for why the Harris County jail bond failed. Miya and Elise attended the Election Night parties so you didn’t have to.

UPDATE: One more wrapup, from Stace.

Uncle Dan wins!

Good news from my dad: My Uncle Dan, who was running for the Dutchess County Legislature as a Democrat against a long-term Republican incumbent, won his race yesterday by a respectable margin. In doing so, he helped tip the partisan balance of that legislative body.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Democrats appear to have seized control of the Dutchess County Legislature.

In unofficial results Tuesday, Democrats picked up one seat on the 25-member Legislature, giving them a 13-12 majority and putting them in power for the first time since 1977, when a Republican lawmaker switched her enrollment and put the Democrats in the majority.

In Northern Dutchess, Democrats snatched from the GOP the District 7 seat in Hyde Park and the District 20 seat in Red Hook, but lost the District 4 seat, also in Hyde Park.

In Hyde Park, former Legislator Robert Clearwater reclaimed the District 4 seat from incumbent Democrat Diane Nash, while Democrat Dan Kuffner outpolled incumbent Republican Noreen Reilly in District 7.

Clearwater oupolled Nash 1,054 to 1,000.

Clearwater, 56, had held the seat from 2001-05, losing to Nash, 52, in the 2004 election. District 4 encompasses the western half of Hyde Park.

In District 7, Kuffner, 60, a political newcomer, defeated Reilly, 63, a six-term lawmaker and current majority leader of the Legislature, 1,148-916. District 7 encompasses the eastern half of Hyde Park.


Each party went into the race with 11 incumbents, and each party fielded challengers to nine incumbents, leaving two Democrats and two Republicans unchallenged in their re-election bids.

There were no incumbents in the District 1 town of Poughkeepsie, District 9 city of Poughkeepsie, and District 12 East Fishkill races, leaving those seats up for grabs.

A Democrat claimed victory in District 1, removing that seat from GOP control, while a Republican won the previously Democratic-controlled seat in District 9. A Republican also won the District 12 seat, meaning the GOP retained control of that seat.

But Democrats also picked up the District 24 seat, which encompasses the town of Dover and a portion of Union Vale, giving the party the one seat they needed to claim the majority.

There still were roughly 3,200 absentee and affidavit ballots to be counted before election results could be declared official. Elections commissioners are expected to begin ruling on the validity of those ballots on Nov. 13.

Way to go, Uncle Dan!

Results wrapup

Continuing on from last night

– The HISD bond referendum squeaked through, with 51.2% of the vote. There’s a lot of people breathing a sigh of relief today, especially when you consider that it only had 48% of the early vote, and had lost the early in-person vote.

– Four out of five Harris County bonds make the grade, with new-jail Prop 3 failing, much to my satisfaction.

County Judge Ed Emmett said the latest poll indicated that the jail bond would narrowly pass, but those who favored the issue must have turned out in fewer numbers than those opposed to it.

“There is no question that we need more jail cells,” he said.

There’s no question that we don’t need them. Maybe this will send a message; whether it will be received, I couldn’t say.

– The Council results story. Brief summary: It’s Wanda Adams versus Lawrence Allen in D, Michael Sullivan versus Annette Dwyer in E, and Jolanda Jones versus Joe Trevino in At Large #5. For those of you keeping score at home, if this election was a test of Latino political power, I’d say that between HISD winning and Trevino’s showing, the result is an A.

– I still can’t believe Sue Lovell nearly lost to Griff. That would have been the upset of the ages, and for no discernable reason I can fathom. At least Melissa Noriega put what I hope is the final nail in the coffin of Roy Morales’ political career with her 65% win.

– Was this a bad night for the local GOP or what? Never mind that their two candidates for At Large #5 combined for less than 25% of the vote, with nobody from their team in the runoff. That means that no Republicans will hold citywide office, quite a turnaround from 2003 when three At Large Council seats were won by GOPers. What really has to sting is the fairly easy win by the Cy-Fair school bonds, which will mean a property tax increase and which the locals thought they could beat because it’s one of their strongholds. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking this doesn’t bode well for them in 2008. Greg piles on as well.

– In the HISD trustee races, Paula Harris won by a surprisingly (to me) large margin in #4, while former Council members Carol Mims Galloway and Michael Yarbrough head to a runoff in #2. Sadly, Reginald Adams did not make a ripple in that race. It was a tough field for a first-time candidate, but I had some hope for him, and I hope we’ll see him again.

– In HCCS, Yolanda Navarro Flores held off Kevin Hoffman in a tight race, one in which Hoffman had the early lead. Neeta Sane won the open-seat race to replace Jay Aiyer. – I guess there’s no runoff for HCCS, since she had 43% in the three-way campaign.

(UPDATE: I hadn’t realized that HCCS District 7 includes part of Fort Bend County, which Sane won by a sufficiently large margin (PDF) to achieve an overall majority, with 51.46% of the vote. My apologies for the error.)

– Elsewhere in the area, the Pearland kids won a resounding victory for their anti-smoking ordinance, and voters in The Woodlands approved by a “significant” but unspecified margin the three propositions to ratify the no-annexation deal with Houston. Does this mean we have to look forward to another Roy Reynolds column in which he tells everyone who doesn’t agree with him what idiots they are?

– Last but not least, Dan Barrett led the way in the HD97 special election, which one can view optimistically or pessimistically. On the one hand, he was the top votegetter. On the other hand, the combined Republican vote was almost 70% of the total. On the third hand, Barrett ran a fiscally efficient campaign, and should have more resources available in the runoff. As always, these things are determined by turnout. The locals have asked for a December 11 runoff date – stay tuned.

That’s it for now. What do you think about what happened?

Late night early results

All results can be found here (PDF) or here, though it loads much more slowly. Just a quick recap of some highlights before I go to bed:

– Mayor White is at 86%, so the under will win. Still a pretty impressive total, and note that the undervote is quite small, less than 7%. In the At Large races, it’s at least 18% in each. It’s not the case that people are skipping this race.

– Biggest surprise is Sue Lovell at only 53% against Griff Griffin. I have no idea where that is coming from. Next biggest surprise is James Rodriguez running away with it in District I – he’s over 58% at this writing. I expected that race to be close, but it sure wasn’t. Third in the surprise line is At Large #5, where the runoff appears to be between Jolanda Jones and Joe Trevino, who sneaked up on a lot of people. I’m happy for Joe, and especially happy that Tom Nixon won’t be on the ballot in December.

– What is close is the HISD bond referendum (50.49% in favor with 82% of precincts reporting) and Harris County bond propositions 1 (50.40% in favor), 2 (51.74% in favor), 3 (51.26% against – woo hoo!) and 5 (50.11% in favor), with 87% reporting. All state props are passing easily, as is the port bond.

– Finally, up in Fort Worth, Democrat Dan Barrett is leading the field in the HD97 special election, with the Craddick-backed candidate coming in fourth. BOR has the details.

Much more in the morning. Good night.