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January 27th, 2022:

Judicial Q&A: Ashleigh Roberson

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. Much more information about Democratic primary candidates, including links to the interviews and judicial Q&As, can be found on Erik Manning’s spreadsheet.

Ashleigh Roberson

1. Who are you and what are you running for?

I am Ashleigh Roberson with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department (Detention Officer). I am running for Justice of the Peace 3 Place 2 located in Baytown, Texas.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This particular court hears the following cases:
Class C Traffic Cases (Judge/Jury Trials)
Small Claims and Debt Collections (Sequestrations)
Civil Disputes
Evictions
Occupational License
Truancy
Landlord /Tenant disputes

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I have gained so much knowledge over the years preparing myself for this position. I started as a clerk of the court in this particular court back in 2011, I began seeking knowledge while working in the criminal department along with defendants, attorneys and school triad workers throughout the years. I was actively involved in a program at M. B. Smiley High School called, “Teen Court.” The Judge who presided over this program so happen to be in my precinct that I reside in. I knew then I could one day become a Judge and follow the legacy of what was taught in my earlier years of education.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I sought a degree in Criminal Justice to certify myself in more court systems and practices. Through working for the Justice courts, I received a total of 5 years in clerical work later becoming the Assistant Chief Clerk. While in this position I received my certification as a Certified Clerk of the Court as I work alongside of the presiding Judge. As a young natural born leader, I continued to certify myself in the field of Criminal Justice. I was able to work for the Constables office doing multiple food drives and community events to put back into the community. While working hard during the day, I was able to seek Law Enforcement and complete the Police Academy. Now, that I am a Detention Officer (TCOLE Certified) in the Jail, I have seen a full circle of the spectrum of the system.

5. Why is this race important?

This particular race is important to me because my experience has proven over the years to prepare myself for the seat. I am a product of my community, I have been an active member of my church, community events and loyal to our seniors. With my resources and community involvement, I believe the community can help one another. Be resourceful and influential to those are in need our of help.

Knowledge is POWER.

I believe that if we come together and work along with our precinct Judge and Constables office we can make a difference in how the current view our courts are viewed.

6. Why should people vote for you in March?

I am qualified for the position because I am Hardworking, Experienced and Fair with the community. The skills I have acquired throughout the years has prepared me to represent and make the best judgments based individual unique situation. My plan is to educate high schoolers through programs that can influence a future, share with the less fortunate and keep that revolving door of criminals out of the system.

Vote No and take the dough

It’s as Republican as insurrection and hydroxychloroquine.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, last year left little doubt why she was voting against a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure measure, calling it nothing more than a “socialist plan full of crushing taxes and radical spending.”

Yet, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced on Wednesday that very same infrastructure bill would be funding a $403-million flood control project in her district in the Fort Worth area, Granger wasted no time in hailing the effort.

“This is a great day for Fort Worth,” she said in a statement. She did not mention where the Army Corps was getting the money but thanked the agency for its “hard work and tireless commitment” to making her community safer.

Granger is not the only Republican cheering on projects generated by a bill that she voted to kill. In recent days, at least four other Republican members of Congress have praised initiatives made possible by the infrastructure law they opposed. Political analysts say they are not likely to be the last.

“Infrastructure remains a relatively nonpartisan issue, so even though those lawmakers may have not voted for the bill, they still have to answer to their constituents, and they want to align themselves with things that are popular,” said Cynthia Peacock, a professor of political communications at the University of Alabama.

[…]

Granger, the Texas Republican who commended the Army Corps of Engineers for addressing flooding problems, defended her vote against the legislation, saying she “wasn’t against this project.”

“I was against some of the other parts of that bill,” Granger said in a Thursday news conference.

I mean, sure, that’s one way to go about it. There’s also the Gene Wu approach, which gives you legitimate input into the process and enables you to secure at least some of your priorities, even if they come wrapped in a bill you otherwise don’t like. Lord knows, the Dems would have welcomed that collaboration, which they did manage to get in the Senate. To be sure, that route will not be popular with the seething masses of Republican primary voters, but that’s a much bigger problem within the Republican Party, and I can’t help you with it. If you are going to do it this way, you can and should be criticized for it.

And just to prove that this kind of hypocrisy is endemic:

Yes, what Rep. Crenshaw is doing here is perfectly legal. It makes absolutely no sense to ban elections administrators from doing this same exact thing, but that never stopped the vote suppressors. “It’s fine when I do it and it’s a travesty when you do it” is the logic here, and as you can see it’s pretty much impossible to argue with.

UPDATE: Crenshaw has gotten pilloried for this, not that it matters. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful thing.

Huffman wins District G election

No runoff needed.

Mary Nan Huffman

Mary Nan Huffman, an attorney for the Houston Police Officers’ Union, has won a special election to become the next District G representative on City Council, according to the unofficial returns.

With all voting centers reporting Tuesday night, Huffman finished with 54 percent of the vote, enough to clear the threshold to win without a runoff.

Community organizer and volunteer Piper Madland came in second with 30 percent, followed by attorney Duke Millard with 12 percent, retired Houston Fire Department assistant chief Roy Reyes, Jr. with 4 percent, and Houshang “Hank” Taghizadeh with 0 percent.

The election in west Houston was triggered to replace Councilmember Greg Travis, who resigned his post late last year to run for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives. Travis will remain at City Hall until his successor is sworn in.

[…]

Off-cycle elections typically feature meager turnout, and that was true in this race.

Roughly 8,300 people cast ballots in the election, a turnout of about 6 percent. That is down from 29,500 votes and a 23 percent turnout in the 2019 general election. The district has more than 137,000 eligible voters.

See here for the previous update, and here for the final unofficial vote totals. Huffman was just over 50% after early voting, and expanded on that on Election Day. I assume she’ll be sworn in shortly after the vote is canvassed, so maybe by the end of next week.

As for the turnout question, let’s fill in the rest of that table from the previous post:


Election        Mail   Early   E-Day  Total  Mail%  Early%
==========================================================
May09 Dist H     647   1,259   2,280  4,186  33.9%   45.5%
May18 Dist K   1,737   1,867   1,531  5,135  41.2%   70.2%
Jan22 Dist G     191   4,101   4,154  8,446   3.7%   50.8%

Remember, “Mail%” is “Mail” divided by “Mail + “Early”, and “Early%” is “Mail + “Early” divided by “Total”. As previously noted, final overall turnout as a percent of registered voters was 4.46% in H in 2009 and 6.01% in K in 2018. Going by the Election Day reporting (click on the box with the check in it, which is the “Voter Turn Out” tab), turnout here was 6.10%, just beating out the District K special in 2018. Did the previously-discussed lack of mail ballots result in a reduction of overall turnout, or did it mostly just shift voting behavior from mail ballots to in-person ballots? We can’t say from one data point. Might be worthwhile to check the voter files for previous odd-year elections to see who the regular mail voters had been and then see if they showed up for this one. I don’t have the time for that now but maybe someone else does. Whatever the reasons were, it’s a striking difference and will be worth paying attention to in future elections. Anyway, congrats to CM-elect Huffman, who will be on the ballot again next year for a full term.

Texas blog roundup for the week of January 24

The Texas Progressive Alliance still feels the urgent need for federal voting rights legislation as it brings you this week’s roundup.

(more…)

David Ortiz elected to MLB Hall of Fame

Congratulations, Big Papi.

With the process still tainted by the steroid era, David Ortiz was the lone player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year, while others like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were shut out.

“Big Papi” was the only player to clear the required 75% threshold, according to results of this year’s voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Ortiz finished with 77.9% in becoming the 58th player elected in his first year of eligibility. At 46, he will also be the youngest of the 75 living members of the Hall.

“I learned not too long ago how difficult it is to get in on the first ballot,” Ortiz said. “Man, it’s a wonderful honor to be able to get in on my first rodeo. It’s something that is very special to me.”

Bonds, baseball’s all-time home run leader; 354-game winner Clemens; 600-homer-club member Sammy Sosa; and longtime ace pitcher Curt Schilling were in their 10th and final year of eligibility in the annual BBWAA balloting.

Bonds, Sosa and Clemens posted numbers that marked them as surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famers, but they became avatars for the era of performance-enhancing drugs. While Bonds and Clemens in particular have long denied using PEDs, accusations have dogged them in the media and in books, and have been the subject of court dramas and testimony in front of Congress. In the end, about a third of the voters decided the allegations were too egregious to overlook, enough to bar their entry to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, at least via the writers’ vote.

Ortiz is a different story, despite his own PED suspicions. A 2009 story in The New York Times reported that Ortiz was among 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing substances during a round of tests conducted in 2003. Those results were supposed to remain confidential, and the tests were done to see if the league had reached a threshold to conduct regular testing.

Ortiz has long denied that he used banned substances, and in 2016, commissioner Rob Manfred said the tests in question were inconclusive because “it was hard to distinguish between certain substances that were legal, available over the counter and not banned under our program.”

Manfred added that during subsequent testing Ortiz “has never been a positive at any point under our program.”

When asked about those suspicions Tuesday, Ortiz said, “We had someone coming out with this one list, where you don’t know what anybody tested positive for. All of a sudden people are pointing fingers at me. But then we started being drug tested and I never tested positive. What does that tell you?”

As for the last-chance candidates, Sosa’s support never approached the threshold for election, but the cases of Bonds and Clemens were more divisive among the selectors. Both climbed over the 50% mark in 2017 only to see their support plateau in recent seasons. The tallies for their last go-arounds were 66% for Bonds and 65.2% for Clemens.

There’s a whole lot of discourse about this, and I’ll just link to a few articles so you can get a feel for it. I’m worn out just thinking about it. Ortiz joins six other former players who were elected via the Eras Committee process in December. And hey, guess what?

The hotly debated cases for Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and Schilling will move to a new arena: the Hall of Fame’s Today’s Game era committee. The era committees comprise players, executives and media members who are charged with evaluating overlooked candidates. The Today’s Game committee is next scheduled to convene during the 2022 winter meetings in December.

We get to live through the whole Bonds/Clemens/Sosa/Schilling debate again later this year, and again in 2024. Deep breaths, we’ll get through this together. Fangraphs, The Ringer, and Drew Magary, among many others, have more.