Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Your voter's guide for November 8, 2011 Part 1: Mayor, AL1, C

You can vote early beginning Monday at most of the usual locations around the city. On the heels of Greg's G-Slate, here's some of my selections:

Mayor of Houston: Annise Parker

Yes, it's her and five also-rans. If I didn't like the mayor personally so much my protest vote would go to the Socialist, honestly. What bothers me about Parker is that she goes to the Pachyderm Club and brags about being a fiscal conservative, and then backs that up by laying off several hundred blue-collar city workers, cutting library hours, and reducing many other city services. The ongoing ominous threat is that she will reduce the city's contribution to the municipal pension fund, which is just another in a series of defensive moves to try to ward off a Republican challenger two years from now. She could have done something brave and bold, like raising property taxes on the richest Houstonians. Of which there are more than ever.

But because so few vote in our municipal elections -- in a city of 2 million-plus, perhaps 100,000 to 125,000 will turn out, or around 5% -- the voice and influence of the most powerful drown out the the rest of the people's to an even greater degree than would normally be the case.

About one-third of Houston's children -- depending on how it is statistically defined -- live in poverty (that would be a 4-person household earning just over $22K). Probably some of their number now include the children of furloughed city workers: clerks, parks and recreation workers, garbage men, librarians. Given that Mayor Parker will coast to re-election (the percentage of victory she posts will be divined as whatever strength or weakness she will have as she runs for re-election to a third and final term in 2013) what can we progressives do to get her attention to this and other of our causes?

For now ... our support, and then our righteous indignation if she continues to cater to the wealthiest and greediest. Some of us expect a lot more from you in your second term, Mayor. This blog's unofficial motto,'Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable', has to go into overdrive after November 8.

At Large #1:  Don Cook

Cook, as I have indicated previously, is the progressive running against incumbent Stephen Costello, who sponsored the now-infamous Rebuild Houston drainage fee, about which fresh and troubling questions  have arisen just this week. Costello, a civil engineer made wealthy on municipal contracts long before he was first elected to Council two years ago, allegedly bragged recently to the Pachyderm Club that his own drainage assessment was coming in well below the city average. As in about a third of the city's now-revised average of $8.25. On his $300,000+ HCAD-assessed domicile.

Many Democrats still seem to be operating under the mistaken impression -- as they were in 2009 -- that Costello has drifted away from the GOP. Don't bet on it.

Other candidates include perennial James Partsch-Galvan and Republican Scott Boates, who may draw off a chunk of Costello's support from his right flank. Boates has purchased sustaining membership in the HCDP, but that's just camoflage. He's pretty much a TeaBagger from what I have heard him say at candidate fora I've attended. But if you need proof: the Harris County GOP lists Boates on the Republican Leadership Council (and Costello and Partsch-Galvan also as Republicans).

Don Cook is simply the only choice for Democrats, liberals, and progressives in this race.

District C: Karen Derr

I started out this campaign cycle as a supporter of my former state representative in my former city council district. But after I observed that she received $10,000 from "Swift Boat" Bob Perry in 2009 -- around which a separate and recent kerfuffle has erupted -- and then in this cycle garnered the endorsement of the Houston Association of Realtors (who endorse Republicans only slightly less than 99% of the time), I simply couldn't get on that bandwagon. We should have elected Karen in '09 to the AL1 seat Stephen Costello sits in now; the city would be so much better off if we had.

Which means we're getting a do-over for Karen. And we need to get it right this time.

C leans a little to the right -- outgoing Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck previously worked for several years in constituent services for former Congressman and House Ways and Means chairman Bill Archer -- so it's possible the Cohen juggernaut will be stalled by one of the two RWNJs running: Brian Cweren and Randy Locke, who are busily trying to out-conservative each other. Forget them both. Josh Verde is also competing in this race and is a fine candidate. But Karen Derr is, once again, your best progressive option. I intend to help her into a runoff with Cohen and then get a real debate going on the issues.

More later this week.

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