City of Houston City Council At-Large 2 candidate Emily Muñoz Detoto was the featured speaker at yesterday’s weekly meeting of the Downtown Houston Pachyderm Cllub. It’s been a while since I visited the club (or any other political function) and it was interesting to say the least. I didn’t go with the intention of writing about it but I had my camera and notebook with me since I was heading to another meeting immediately afterwards, so I decided to jot some notes.
I met Emily when she was running for the 180th District Court in 2009/10. Click here to see her answers to a few questions about that race. She missed the runoff that year but I was impressed with her campaign. She proved to be a tireless campaigner and was everywhere in the county. Since that election, I’ve followed her career on Facebook and tireless is a theme of her life. If she isn’t defending people in court, she is at one of her children’s functions (there are a lot), teaching other lawyers at Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, or perhaps hitting the heavy bag at Baby Bull Boxing. Makes me tired looking at her timeline. Oh, I forgot to mention that she is a black belt in Taekwondo. Or maybe it’s jiu jitsu. I forget.
Since the DHPC is a Republican club, she started her talk with some of her R bona fides. After the 2010 election, she didn’t go away, she pitched in to help. She became the Chair of the HCRP’s Outreach Committee. She was a delegate to the Republican Party of Texas state convention. And during the general election, she cut radio commercials with the TaxMan, Paul Bettencourt. In my experience, that is highly unusual for most of the losing judicial candidates in a HCRP primary. Most of those attorneys weren’t Republicans to begin with, or only nominally so, seeking the party’s nomination only because they thought that it was the only route to the bench. And in those days, it was.
As for the current race, she calls herself the “quintessential outsider” because she has no ties to city insiders and isn’t in this to get rich. She thinks that some of the people on City Council have forgotten why they are there and thinks it isn’t a coincidence that they are richer when they leave council.
She notes that the city has a huge budget but that primary services aren’t being delivered and wonders where that money is going. Her cars have been broken into so many times that she has given up reporting new break-ins to the police. Her trash is either not picked up or her neighbor’s trash is not picked up. She can’t take her daughter to school without her car hitting massive potholes and causing damage. She has never seen a HPD police vehicle patrolling her neighborhood.
Emily ended by saying that she thinks that she is the most conservative candidate in the race and that if she is elected, she wants to be held accountable by the voters.
And then the questions started. Oh my.
I won’t go through all of them other than to say that most were about the process, personalities and the 2010 race that she ran. Irrelevant to me but important to some. I’d rather hear about the issues in the City of Houston.
I asked her about Prop B, the equal pay for firefighters/police proposition. Would she have voted to lay off the firefighters? She answered no and told us that she in fact voted for Prop B. Someone in the audience stated that she would never get the firefighter’s endorsement because her political consultant worked against Prop B. She said that when she interviewed with the HPFFA, they were very engaged and professional and that she thinks they will look at each candidate’s merits and go from there.
As noted above, this is Emily’s first time in non-judicial politics and it showed. She didn’t have a depth of knowledge about some issues that others with long experience will have. One example is that she was unfamiliar with TIRZ’s, which have a huge impact on the city’s finances. She’ll need to do a bit of homework to get familiar with some of the more hot button issues.
Much of the discussion about process centered on the idea that Emily is being used as a tool by her consultant to split the conservative vote with Pastor Willie Davis, thus enabling a liberal to win the seat. That seems a bit of a stretch to me, especially given what I know of Emily, but that was a huge time suck and certainly made the candidate uncomfortable.
The questions at the club used to be moderated but this time it was a free for all, frequently going down rabbit trails that had nothing to do with the race at hand. If I were a board member of the club, I’d get the club to go back to that format. Productive, on track meetings attract more folks. Just sayin’.
And here is Emily with the board:
Here is a link to Emily Muñoz Detoto’s web page:
Her Facebook page:
Tom Zakes says
Historically, we haven’t moderated questions if there was a single speaker, unless we had a really large crowd. Since our move from Spaghetti Warehouse, we haven’t been able to host a large crowd (and we understand that some of the folks who used to come topped out their lunch budget at $9).
If it’s a single speaker, I generally hand the podium to them and let them handle the questions as they see fit.
But it’s a point well taken. We discussed at our board meeting yesterday about putting more control on the Q & A.
I’m Tom Zakes and I approve this message.