Wednesday, March 18, 2015

An open letter to, and some questions for, Adrian Garcia

Congratulations on your (alleged) decision to run for mayor of Houston.  And hey, sorry about posting that false start a month ago.  Once you do declare, I know that many will cheer, and some will complain; I will do neither.  I have not made up my mind who I might vote for and support, but I am fairly certain today that it will not be you in the general election this fall.  No hard feelings, best of luck in your bid for office.

As a public service to inform the 10-15% of Houston voters who will be participating in November's municipal elections, I respectfully request your response to the following questions.  You may comment here or e-mail me; I would ask that your responses be in writing and on the record.  At this time it is unnecessary for you or one of your advisers to call me, as I have a hearing impediment that has rendered telephone call conversations all but worthless.  (That hopefully changes in the near future, but for the present time I'm in read-only mode.)

You may respond on your own timetable, as I understand and appreciate the fact that you must resign your position as Sheriff of Harris County once you officially announce your mayoral campaign, and that conversations about that might force your resignation sooner than you would wish.  The ramifications of giving up your office to seek another is its own story, which isn't necessary to discuss at this time.  But speaking of that...

-- May I ask how you will support your family while you run for mayor?  Giving up your day job isn't so difficult for your extravagantly wealthy competitors for mayor; those that aren't wildly rich can continue with their law firms or engineering firms or brokerage firms in a reduced capacity, and little or no reduced compensation.

That's not the case with you, unless there's something I don't know.  As far as I can tell, you're a working Joe much like 99% of Houston's residents.  As an HPD beat cop, city councilman, and now the county's top law enforcement officer -- jobs that pay well, but don't exactly put you on Easy Street -- it looks like you've been making ends meet, maybe a little better.  But can you afford not having a paycheck for six or seven months?  Also regarding money, you're not going into the contest with a large campaign warchest, and absolutely not in comparison to others already hosting lavish fundraisers and the like.  So by all appearances you'll be running a fairly populist campaign, at least as compared to half a dozen other mayoral hopefuls.  That's something I admire and have respect for, if you know anything about what I have written here over the past decade.

If you're not going to be "funemployed" while you bid for chief at City Hall, do you have a job lined up?  Is someone going to hire you -- I'll speculate "security consultant" at 10-12K monthly -- that expects some return on their investment if you get elected mayor?  And perhaps most importantly: do you think it's appropriate for you to disclose to the voters any or all of these details?

-- May I ask about your political affiliation?  I realize you have been elected as a Democrat a couple of times now, and am also quite familiar with the non-partisan nature of Houston municipal elections and the perils of "jungle" elections.  Your previous statements -- the ones where you refer to yourself as 'getting more conservative as you have gotten older' -- coupled with your support of the now-defunct Secure Communities program (much more of a Republican priority than a Democratic one) would suggest that if you still consider yourself a Democrat, you appear to be a very, very conservative one, sort of in the mold of one of your loudest supporters and Rick Perry's attorney of record, Tony Buzbee.  By the way: is Buzbee still a Democrat or has he become a Republican?  Or, as with so many other Houston One-Percenters... does he work and play on both sides of the street?

-- What is your plan associated with the expectation that Latinos will need to turn out in historic numbers to elect you, as you said a few months ago?  I realize it's the goal, and every effort will be expended to do that, but why do you think you'll be able to re-write the record books in this regard?  What makes you more special than, say, Tony Sanchez in 2002, or Maria Luisa Alvarado in 2006, or Linda Chavez-Thompson in 2010, or Leticia Van de Putte in 2014?  Lots of Democratic hopes and dreams have been dashed on the shoals of 'increased Latino voter turnout' for many years now.  Even Ruy Teixeira, who co-authored that 2004 book that said it was all but inevitable -- and then offered another promising tea leaf again in 2013, while diversifying his "diversity" message to economic issues -- was, like all Democrats, forced to eat a large serving of crow while sitting in the wreckage of 2014.

Every Democrat in Texas, and maybe the nation, would like to know what the secret is for increasing Latino turnout beyond having a Latino surname.  (And nobody wants to hire Marc Campos just to learn if he is full of shit about knowing the secret, or not.)

So precisely what -- or as close to 'precise' as you are comfortable revealing -- are you planning to do in order to make history?

I'm sure I'll have more questions once you declare, but one thing I won't do much of is criticize your decision to hand the sheriff's office back to a Republican, or point out some of the office's shortcomings or deficiencies under your administration.  There will be plenty of others who will choose to do that.  I'll also not harp on your lack of college degree.  I have blogged in the recent past that was a deal-breaker for me, just as it would be if I were a Republican considering a vote for Scott Walker.  But I'm going to mute that criticism, even though there are many reasons why conservatives hate college and Democrats value education, as the Texas Lege is demonstrating once again.

In the meantime, I will wait patiently for your responses, to me personally or to the Houston electorate generally.  Again, good luck to you with your campaign.

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