Friday, September 11, 2015

Best Houston mayoral debate happened last night

Best performances by the media as well.  Give serious props to moderators Eric Barajas and Rebecca Suarez for solid prep and good questions.  Not tough ones; not softballs.  Update: And to Miya Shay, who wrote them.

Televised in Spanish by Univision and in English by KTRK, the mods asked each candidate about their most-presumed weaknesses.

"I've learned a lot more from my failures than my success," said King, who smoothly pivoted the question into one about becoming a better candidate because of his earlier mistakes.

Current state representative Sylvester Turner was asked about his two failed runs at mayor prior to now, and why voters should take him more seriously this time.

"Those first two occasions are dress rehearsals; this is the real deal," quipped Turner, before turning more serious. "In life, you will go after things and you won't get it. It doesn't mean you get a negative attitude, it doesn't mean you throw in the towel and quick (sic), you keep on."

Neither of these are particularly good answers, you might note.  And after something like 30 of these fora and no traction or buzz surrounding his campaign, Bill King finally decided it was time to come out against the HERO.

It might be too late for Pothole Bill to recapture the Hate Caucus back from Ben Hall, but since those folks are also racists... there's always a chance.

Since I missed it live (or taped, so far), I can't tell if Turner's answer about Sandra Bland might be an issue or not.  This Twitter exchange set off some alarms.

We'll wait a bit and see if that's molehill or mountain.

Hall has a commanding presence on stage.  Trained as both lawyer and pastor, he comes off as relaxed and authoritative.  I was astonished two years ago at how poorly done his TV work was.  I suspect we will see better this time.  Watch his one-minute video segment and then King's (scroll down) and see if you agree.

As the perceived (no polling yet? in mid-September?!  The first and last one came out in late June.  WTF, people?) front-runners, Sylvester Turner and Adrian Garcia took the most incoming fire.

Former Sheriff Adrian Garcia was asked about his controversial management of the Harris County Jail, which was first brought to light by ABC-13. Garcia countered that he addressed the problems as quickly as he found out, then added, " If terrible things happen as mayor, I'll take full responsibility, take action."

Garcia just doesn't have it, whatever 'it' may be.  There's no charisma, no real thoughtfulness being demonstrated.  The lights are on but nobody's home.  Maybe he's too scripted or perhaps he over-practiced.  He simply does not show, through either word or deed, the ability to lead the city.  And that's not just me saying that, but the Harris County Deputy Sheriff's union, the people he formerly commanded, who endorsed Turner yesterday in a sharp jab at the former sheriff.

And that's before you even consider his record, which is stained with a lack of accomplishment beyond Bill White's help, and a repetitive cluelessness that crosses the line to malfeasance (not just the jail mess but the no-bid consultant contract) too many times for my comfort level.  I keep trying to give Garcia the benefit of some doubt, but I still find him unfit for public service.

For his part, Chris Bell enlisted Bill King's help in pointing this out again.

Apparently Chris Bell's biggest flaw in the contest is that he hasn't raised as much money as everybody else.  Candidly, that's a benefit and not a problem.  As long as you're not a fan of oligarchy, of course.

It was Marty McVey who got eliminated from contention last night, sadly.

Local businessman Marty McVey was asked about the more than a dozen lawsuits filed against him in the past few years. The lawsuits, one of which is scheduled to go to trial next year, stemmed from his purchase and bankruptcy of Spring Branch Medical Center. 
"We must face litigation and it's part of doing business sometime," said McVey, who countered that the Medical Center was an anomaly in his string of business successes.

Stick a fork in him.  He had some brief shining moments during the early parts of the campaign, but he's not ready for prime time.  Maybe two years from now he can be saying the kinds of things Hall and King are saying now.

As opposed to McVey, I simply don't know what to make of Steve Costello's performance.  He seems a little too bland, unanimated, "low-energy" as somebody has said about Jeb Bush -- and that's saying a lot with McVey and King to compete with.

So... any clear winners and/or losers to you?

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