First off, kudos to Christina Gorczynski and the Houston area League of Women Voters for holding this event. It was a huge undertaking and went off without any major hitches. As I mentioned, the turnout of voters was small but that can’t be blamed on the LWV. In fact, I think to put blame on anyone for the small turnout would be a mistake. Voters generally are not interested in civic duty and have a million things on their plates. We are a republic, not a democracy. Which is also why I don’t place nearly as much importance on voter registration as I do on having informed voters go to the polls.
Second, it was an awesome sight to behold walking into the George Bush Grand Ballroom and seeing hundreds of people that are interested in civic duty. And it was especially heartening to see the Republicans match the Dems at a non-partisan event like this. It is a rare event when that happens, at least in the old days. A big thank you to all of the R candidates that came out and to those of you that didn’t, shame on you. You are letting your peers handle the load. The Dem candidates were shocked at the large R turnout, I can tell you that from speaking with many of them. I think the LWV was also surprised. Who knows? Maybe some of the volunteers will have a better impression of R’s after this.
A few (actually a lot of) pictures from the meet and greet:
Debate Between Tax Assessor Collector Candidates
After the meet and greet, two debates were held, both moderated by Laurie Johnson, host of “All Things Considered” on KUHF 88.7. The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters. The first of the two debates was between Republican Don Sumners and Democrat Diane Trautman.
Now, anyone that has read BJP for any length of time knows that I’m not a Don Sumners fan. Actually, I’m not a fan of his fans and the way they conducted themselves in the Republican primary. One of the idiots is still attacking Leo Vasquez on Facebook believe it or not. I guess she hasn’t realized yet that Mr. Sumners won the primary.
So I’ve been hoping that I could find a way to like his opponent. Really, that is how much I despise what they did in the primary with their whisper campaign. Ms. Trautman looks good on paper, if you prefer that your politicians come from academia. She even has a doctorate degree in education if that floats your boat. It doesn’t float mine but I still tried. I would tell people, well, you know, she isn’t so bad, maybe she could do the job. And then I listened to her, first in big dog’s interview and then at the debate Saturday night.
No way Jose. Mr. Sumners, forgive me my sins.
Wow, where to start. If you want a political hack that will incessantly repeat the lie that Leo Vasquez tried to suppress voter registration, if you like academic formulas, if you like catchy management phrases of the day, she’s your man. Otherwise, you’d better run, not walk, to the polls to vote for Mr. Sumners. Run.
The attacks on Mr. Vasquez were so negative and so frequent that Mr. Sumners finally stepped in and told the truth. And that truth is part of the reason that Mr. Vasquez was defeated in the primary, as I mentioned before. What is that truth? The fact is that not only did Mr. Vasquez not suppress voter registration, HE MADE IT HIS NUMBER ONE PRIORITY. Honestly, I was shocked that Mr. Sumners stepped up and said hold on, let me correct the record here. But correct it he did.
You see, there is a lot more to the Tax Assessor Collector office than voter registration and Mr. Vasquez might have made a mistake by making it his number one priority. Fine, say that, as Mr. Sumners has. But the inter-left party bloggers and mainstream media need to, once and for all, understand that they are repeating a lie when they side with the Texas Democratic Party and Houston Votes. It is a LIE that Mr. Vasquez tried to suppress voter registration in Harris County. Period.
And yet there goes Diane Trautman yapping off at the mouth about it because she knows it is a good political angle to get Dem voters outraged because most of them never bother to learn the truth, just as the “Top Houston political bloggers” never bother. And she yaps this crap at the same time she repeats over and over that “I will take the politics out of the tax office” BS line. If people wanted the politics out of the tax office they would have kept Mr. Vasquez. As long as there is going to be politics in the office, I’d just as soon have Mr. Sumners’ style of politics, which are unquestionably and unequivocally from the conservative point of view.
Mr. Sumners seemed to grasp that the office has multiple responsibilities. He also had a basic understanding of why the Harris County voter rolls seem stagnant while the population booms – many of those moving into the county aren’t citizens and can’t vote. Trautman ignored that reality, preferring to start a pilot program at five high schools, with the goal of having 100% of the seniors registered. She mentioned small, liberal, Travis County so many times I thought I might be at the wrong debate and in the wrong county. Move there if it is so dang awesome already.
She does have nice little academic slogans though. Such as “I’m in favor of the three A’s, Accountability, Accessibility, and Authenticity”. Or, I believe in “Servant Leadership”. And if I hear the word “collaborative” one more time I’m going to puke.
Don Sumners, he’s my man.
County Judge Debate
First off, the questions were very poor. Judge Emmett noted this several times, at one point in exasperation saying “I feel like I’m running for Tax Assessor, County Clerk, or Sheriff” and another time saying “we need to get a basic understanding of what the county judge does”.
Secondly, this race comes down to this: do you want Harris County to be an economic engine for the nation or do you want it to be reduced to small “livable communities” so that you don’t have to drive to your job (what job?), the store, or your church. I prefer the former vision, which comes complete with ways to reduce air pollution, over the latter, which comes with “affordable housing”, which means that someone else, presumably from an area with a strong economy, pays for your house while you walk to church.
One quick point. In his recap of the debate, the Chronicle’s Chris Moran says this: “How to mitigate traffic congestion? Get more commuters onto trains.” Talk about a hot issue for conservatives. And when I first read it, I looked at my notes and found the only reference to commuter rail being the Houston-Galveston line, the Hempstead line to Austin, and the possibility of high-speed rail to Dallas via the “Teague” line, whatever that is. I didn’t connect his comments to traffic congestion.
But Mr. Moran was correct. I asked Judge Emmett after reading the article and he confirmed that his idea is to use these existing lines because of the lower costs and to feed them with buses. And I think that I am correct when I say that Judge Emmett is not in favor of light-rail systems like Metro has built and proposed.
If I had been able to ask a question, I’d be point blank with Judge Emmett and ask him why he split hairs last week when he was “quick to say“ that the promise not to use property tax revenue to fund stadiums wasn’t broken. That is splitting hairs finer than frog’s hair. And that is a politician’s answer, not the typical straight-forward answer that we’ve come to expect from Judge Emmett.
My takeaway from this non-debate was a line from Judge Emmett’s closing speech. Rarely do you hear a candidate tell the audience not to base their vote on what they hear at a forum but to take the one issue that you are passionate about and then ask your contacts that are involved in that issue who they would vote for. His point? That no matter your issue, be it the Harris County Hospital District, Emergency Management, Transportation, Flood Control, Sheriff’s Dept., whatever, he is willing to be judged by his reputation with the people that work in those areas. I like that.
All in all, a good day for Harris County voters. Thanks Houston area League of Women Voters for putting this event together.