Thoughts on the Houston and Harris County elections

I’m going to take a break from talking about the presidential election and shift to the local elections here in Harris County and Houston.

First up, I may as well talk about the local election that gathered national attention: Devon Anderson, the Republican incumbent district attorney, who was challenged by Kim Ogg, running as the Democratic candidate in a rematch of the 2012 election. This time, however, it would be Kim Ogg emerging the victor in a relatively close race (54% of the vote). The controversy surrounding Anderson’s jailing of a rape victim to compel her testimony is believed to be a major reason behind her defeat; Anderson’s attacks on Ogg, including one on the latter’s sexuality, almost certainly didn’t help.

Second, we have the even closer race for sheriff of Harris County. Ron Hickman was originally elected to Precinct 4 Constable as a Republican. Hickman was appointed to sheriff when Adrian Garcia resigned to run for mayor of Houston (a race which Garcia lost to Sylvester Turner). Hickman’s challenger was Ed Gonzalez, who ran as a Democrat. Gonzalez’s strategy of highlighting Hickman’s failures as sheriff paid off and he won with 52% of the vote.

Next, there was an election I did not vote in, but I am nevertheless happy at the result. Over a century ago, Houston Heights was actually a separate city, which had elected not to allow stores to sell beer and wine. That ban remained in place even as Houston annexed the area. However, after this election it’s history, and HEB quickly announced they would move forward with plans to build a new store on the former site of Fiesta on North Shepherd at 24th Street.

There was also the resounding defeat of HISD Proposition 1. The ballot language was confusing on this one, and I have to wonder if it was on purpose. How would you vote on something like this?

Authorizing the board of trustees of Houston Independent School District to purchase attendance credits from the state with local tax revenues

What this actually meant was “authorize Houston ISD to send $162 million to the state of Texas when it can barely afford to run its own schools”. This “attendance credits” nonsense is just verbiage to confuse the voters; thankfully they didn’t fall for it. A resounding majority (60%) voted against, and I’m proud to be one of them. The logic behind voting against is that it’s the only hope to get some reform for our school finance system here in Texas. And it needs reform. It’s outrageous that Houston ISD, which has so many students in families under the poverty line and which can scarcely afford to finance its own schools, is somehow viewed as a “rich” district under the law and expected to send an obscene amount of money to other Texas counties. I’m glad this proposition did not pass and I hope some good becomes of it.

Last but certainly not least, the race for Precinct 1 Constable. Another rematch from 2012: Alan Rosen was seeking re-election as the Democratic candidate, with Joe Danna running once again as a Republican. This time, there were no other candidates, which seemed to play to the favor of Rosen, who slayed it with 65% of the vote. (Back in 2012 Rosen won with just under 59% of the vote, with just under 6% combined going to candidates affiliated with the Libertarian and Green parties, leaving just under 36% for Danna.)

Whether Joe Danna gets the hint this time remains to be seen. His candidacy never really ended after the 2012 election, with a lot of the campaign signs staying up even after the 2012 election was over. Mr. Danna had a bit of a disadvantage this time, too: the “we don’t need a volunteer” card wasn’t in play since Alan Rosen had now been working a paid position for the past four years. Whether the voters remembered that from 2012, or were just happy with the status quo, the result is the same.

(As an aside, it was a pretty good night for law enforcement positions county-wide with not only the aforementioned sheriff spot, but also five of the eight constable positions, won by Democrats. The Precinct 7 Constable position was unopposed.)