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Endorsement watch: Another smattering

The Chron endorses Cam Campbell in HD132.

Cam Campbell

Texas House District 132, stretching from just south of Interstate 10 in eastern Katy to U.S. 290 in Cypress, features a handful of high school football powerhouses. Voters there fittingly get to choose between two gridiron lovers in Republican incumbent Mike Schofield and Democratic challenger Cameron “Coach Cam” Campbell. Campbell believes Cypress, Katy and the rest of the western suburbs can become the “Fort Worth to Houston’s Dallas” with the right leadership and partnerships.

Campbell, 40, is a 2000 Cypress Springs graduate and a former University of Houston football player. He teaches children about safe play for a community outreach program of the Texans. He also has a sports facility construction company and has gone by “Coach Cam” since coaching for KIPP Houston High School.

Control of this district has swung back and forth between parties in recent years. Schofield was several years ago named “Freshman legislator of the year” by Republican members of the House but lost his seat in 2018 by just 113 votes to Gina Calanni, then won it back in a hard-fought 2020 election. This time, Schofield got some help through redistricting.

In our interview, Campbell criticized the gerrymandering, but he is running the electoral version of an aggressive no-huddle offense to drive voter engagement and turnout to overcome the influx of likely GOP voters. He talked at length about voter research and outreach tools his campaign is using. Given the redrawn district’s tilt, it’s not surprising his opponent has far outraised Campbell, but he appears to be making the most of his limited resources. Campbell’s high energy and attention to detail truly felt coach-like to us.

We appreciate Campbell’s vision of what the district and the Katy-Cypress area can be. He wants to sit on the Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee in the House, in part to attract industry and promote his district.

Campbell said he’s passionate about promoting literacy and reducing gun violence, which he hopes to turn into legislative priorities if elected. He’s also been outspoken on the campaign trail about reproductive rights and LGTBQ rights. He favors marijuana legalization and greater environmental protections.

My interview with Coach Cam is here. I thought he was pretty impressive, so give that a listen if you haven’t. The Chron notes that they had endorsed incumbent Rep. Schofield before, and also that he didn’t bother screening with them this time. That is a trend that is unlikely to reverse itself anytime soon.

The Chron also endorsed Carla Wyatt for Harris County Treasurer.

Carla Wyatt

Voters expecting shy, bookish candidates for Harris County treasurer, content to pore over spreadsheets in anonymity, have a surprise in store from Republican Kyle Scott and Democrat Carla Wyatt. However the race turns out, the county is about to get a charismatic, hardworking newcomer to oversee the office that processed some $20 billion coming in and out last year.

Wyatt earns our endorsement because she has two decades of experience working for the county, including in the budget office and public infrastructure. She also holds a doctoral degree in environmental toxicology, and she ran emergency communications during Hurricane Harvey. She has creative ideas for how to reach more residents and make it easier for people to interact with the office. In the budget office, she led an IT group that created interactive dashboards for county employees to see where money was going.

[…]

“I’ve created these relationships and I understand where all the little rocks and pebbles are, because I helped put some of them there,” Wyatt, 51, told the editorial board. “I think it’s important for whoever is in this office to have the experience and relationships to create checks and balances and be able to work across party lines and department lines.”

She wants to make it simpler for residents to find out whether the county owes them money and to propose ways to broaden the use of credit and debit card transactions in county business.

Scott’s campaign is centered around accountability and transparency, and he talked with us about wanting to serve as a check on wasteful spending. We especially appreciate Scott’s desire to bolster financial literacy and actively engage residents. His background as a former board trustee and communications executive at Lone Star College prepares him well for the task.

“Usually in the treasurer’s race, all you hear is, ‘I’m a watchdog,’ without explaining what that means or demonstrating knowledge of what you’re actually watching, and so many folks feel in the dark about where the money’s actually going,” Scott, who has a Ph.D. in political science, told us. “If you can talk about it clearly and bring some light to that, it’s appreciated.”

We endorsed Scott’s GOP primary opponent, in part because we were concerned when Scott said he would be willing to refuse to sign a county check as a final safeguard against wasteful spending by the Harris County Commissioners Court. Changing the county budget is the job of commissioners, not the treasurer. In our general election screening this fall, Scott told us he’d refuse to sign checks only in extreme moments, as in the case of the $11 million Elevate Strategies vaccine outreach contract.

Wyatt had a different take, using one of the several clever analogies she employed in her interview with us. “The treasurer can’t stop you from walking into a fire, but I can tell you that there is a fire,” she said. “I can tell you that the stove is hot.” She sees the treasurer role as an advisory one and said, in the case of a contract like Elevate Strategies, that delaying alongside advising could be used. But she stopped short of saying she’d refuse to sign a check. That’s closer to our understanding of the treasurer’s job.

Wyatt as noted defeated incumbent Treasurer Dylan Osborne in the Dem primary. My interview with her from the primary is here. I like Dylan, I knew him before he ran for Treasurer, I voted for him in the primary, but I agree with the Chron’s assessment of Wyatt: She’ll be a fine Treasurer. But even if I had concerns about her, I’d have much bigger concerns than the Chron seems to have had with Kyle Scott’s pronouncement that he’d be a self-appointed veto of county spending activity he doesn’t like. Yeah, sure, now he says it would be used in limited emergency instances, but that’s not what he said in the primary and the Treasurer doesn’t have that power. Seriously, do we really need another undemocratic veto point in our government? It’s a ridiculous idea – in truth, even if the Treasurer explicitly had this power it would be a dumb idea – and it disturbs me that the Chron isn’t more than just “concerned” about it, especially given Scott’s past campaigning on the idea. Good for them for not endorsing him, but come on. Don’t be a sucker.

Finally, the Chron endorsed Sen. John Whitmire for re-election in SD15, an easy and obvious call, and former District Clerk Chris Daniel in his rematch against incumbent Dem Marilyn Burgess. They still have more races to get through, but at least they seem to be picking up the pace.

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2 Comments

  1. Owlvis says:

    Charles, To clarify what I have heard from Mr. Scott on multiple occasions. What he has said is that in an instance such as Elevate Strategies where a payment was issued after a contract was canceled, that the Treasure should ask for reconciliation prior to the funds being released.

  2. Bill Steinhoff says:

    I’ve been to many forums with Kyle Scott and I have never heard him say that there was a veto authority or anything of the sort. All he has said is that in an instance like Elevate Strategy, where a payment was issued after the contract was cancelled, that the Treasurer should ask for reconciliation before the funds are released.

    You should talk to him about it to get the full story.