Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I MUST chime in

The City of Houston is officially in the middle of campaign season. Unlike the other cities in Texas, Houston has the Strong Mayor system, meaning that anyone who wants to be Mayor of Houston must bench press at least 250 lbs. & complete the HFD Physical Agility Course at the Jahnke Training Facility in 3 minutes or better.


But in all seriousness, Houston is the only city in Texas that operates under the strong mayor system. City managers are for sissy cities. Since our elections are held in November, we get the benefit of long, drawn out City Council and Mayoral campaigns that wear us out emotionally and physically just in time for the March Primaries.

Lucky for me, my friend and super cool former boss, District H Council Member Edward Gonzalez, has no opponent in November. I have a new job now and am quite fortunate to leave the city election campaigning and heavy lifting to the candidates and their own operations.

My group, the Harris County Tejano Democrats, has endorsed Gene Locke for Mayor. It was the right thing to do for our community after talking to all 3 major candidates. Tejano Dems received a strong commitment from Gene to renew the black/brown coalition from the 1980's that was formed by Congressman Mickey Leland, Attorney Frumencio Reyes, Jr., candidate Locke and many others who saw the need for the disenfranchised and overlooked to stand together and improve the political conditions of people of color in Houston. With only 2 Latinos on Houston City Council, a coalition of this type is needed now as much as it was 25 years ago.

What we didn't receive, and no, we were never promised, was a plan for a "Hispanic Museum." The Annise Parker campaign and her supporters claim that such a promise is pandering and detrimental to City services:
"Locke's promises of new city departments, new museums and increased government spending to his insider friends would lead to tax increases or cuts in vital services, such as public safety."
HCTD only became Locke's "insider friends" when he got the endorsement and she didn't. Several of our past and current members are Houston Police officers, Houston Fire Fighters, Harris County deputies and even the Sheriff himself. We take public safety very seriously because our neighborhoods are historically under served and would welcome the resources and the attention other areas receive. Yes, Houston Heights, in Central Patrol, I'm talking about you.

Harris County Tejano Democrats promote and support candidates who are best for the Latino community. Dragging some random Telemundo sports anchor to talk to our group doesn't cut it. Telling us you're the best for the Latino community while your staffers, allies and friends work to defeat a Latino candidate in a Latino district is not forgotten, either. By the way -- how many Latinos do you have on staff (either on your campaign or at the City) and how many speak Spanish?

Let's get one thing straight. The idea of a museum, exhibit or acknowledgment of the contributions of Latinos to Houston is not silly, but what is silly is the constant mention of this idea (that's ALL it was - an idea) as a means to ridicule the Locke campaign. Team Parker has attempted to do this for the last month or so and it is getting old. The person most enthralled with "Hispanic Museum" talk is Houston blogger John Cobarruvias.

I understand that Annise Parker has the strong backing of many Democrats, progressives and liberal-minded people, as well she should. Her Democratic creds have never been in doubt and it's natural that Democrats would flock to her campaign.

But there are those of us who believe that we must work with people from across the political spectrum to get the job done. Gene Locke has hired the best staff in the business to do outreach to the community and to develop a strong ground campaign. HCTD will do its part to turn out support in the Latino neighborhoods that were disregarded earlier this year.

I am issuing a notice and fair warning to candidates who have thoughts of dismissing or disregarding Latino voters in November and have one thing to say:


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