Monday, December 05, 2011

Kristi Thibaut and Jolanda Jones for Houston City Council

A solid 14,000 Houstonians have voted early in person or by mail in the December 10 runoff election for Houston city council. My post isn't likely to move any molehills, much less mountains, with respect to turnout or endorsement influence. Here it is anyway.

Kristi Thibaut, At Large #2: Let's begin by pointing out that Thibaut's opponent, Pastor Andrew Burks, is not only following the Gene Locke "Republicans plus African Americans" electoral strategy but also has a few other, shall we say, non-traditional items in his background, including a second arrest for DWI in 2010. From the Chron's take on the race last week:

Andrew Burks Jr. is harder to pin down. He's a lifelong black Democrat who ran once for chairman of the county party, yet he scored an A on the Texas Conservative Review's questionnaire and had the publication's endorsement for the general election when there were 10 candidates in the running.

Burks is endorsed by the (Harris) county Republican Party. Despite a claim on his Web site that he is endorsed by a former At-Large 5 candidate Laurie Robinson, she said she has not endorsed him.


Burks said he cannot remember how many times he has run for office. Chronicle research indicates this is his 12th run for public office and his seventh for a council seat. He also has run for state representative, Congress, county school board and party chairman. Two years ago, he took incumbent Sue Lovell to a runoff. Lovell, who is term-limited, endorses Thibaut.


Burks was under house arrest for 40 days last year following his second DWI conviction. Burks said he had not been drinking nor driving, but that he had been prescribed improper medication at a Veterans Affairs facility, where he was in a parked car at the time of his arrest.

Charles expands:

As a point of comparison, here’s the 2009 runoff overview story. The reason Burks has been endorsed by the GOP despite his “lifelong Democrat” status is likely because he welcomed the endorsement of Steven Hotze in the 2009 runoff. There are plenty of reasons not to vote for Andrew Burks, but that one would be sufficient for me. Beyond that, I just don’t know what to make of the guy. Like Griff, the impression I get is of a guy who’s running to run, not because he has some idea of what he wants to do if he wins. His finance reports are a mess, and he says ridiculous things – in that 2009 story, he talks about a “conspiracy of silence” that he can’t articulate. None of this is to say that he can’t win – he can, and he might. I just don’t know what we’ll get if he does.

The reason Burks might win is that he's black, and because another African American, Jolanda Jones, is also in an At Large runoff. Burks and Jones are as far apart philosophically as Jones and her runoff opponent Jack Christie, but for some voters, sadly, that won't matter. Also driving African American voters to the polls on December 10 is a runoff in District B between Alvin Byrd and Jerry Davis, and Republicans are getting boosted by District A's runoff between far-right incumbent Brenda Stardig and her farthest-right challenger Helena Brown.

Neil has more on Burks' bald-faced duplicity.

It's embarrassing that Burks even made it into the runoff with so many other qualified candidates, including a more qualified African American woman, Roz Shorter. It will be even more embarrassing if he wins.

Thibaut, by contrast, is honest, hard-working, and progressive. She was my co-endorsement last month out of ten challengers for the seat. She deserves to be elected. Burks does not. Simple as that.

Jolanda Jones, At Large #5: Again, a simple choice made even easier by Christie's smear mailer, which arrived in my mailbox on the day after Thanksgiving and even quoted Texas Liberal's Neil Aquino from the post in which he endorsed Jones. Hard to twist someone's words any tighter than that. That's the Republican way, though.

My fear is that the fate of Jones and Thibaut are somewhat linked. Either Democrats and progressives will get themselves to the poll to vote for them, or they'll get overcome by guaranteed GOP turnout. As for Thibaut, there's a double negative: there won't be many tickets split Thibaut/Christie, but likely to be many that go Burks/Jones.

As in the general election, I can offer no endorsement in District B, and because the only Democrat running in District A did not make that runoff, I can easily decline choosing between Stardig and Brown ... unlike Mayor Parker.

Update: Bob Ryan, the sensible Republican who ran in AL#5 against Christie and Jones, endorses the councilwoman for re-election.

“While I may not agree with all of Councilmember Jones’ positions, she is one of the few at City Hall that will stand up for the downtrodden, even when it’s one against fourteen.”

Ryan and Chris Bell trump the hell out of Bill White and Peter Brown IMO.

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