The Houston Democracy Project is looking to change the culture of municipal elections in Houston.
As we confront authoritarianism, we can't keep going on with low turnout, special-interest funded, law enforcement union-driven politics. These politics don't keep us safe and offer little hope of a better future.
Elected City of Houston Democrats have the capacity to define the responsibilities of their office. They can address what they want to address.
Every office holder swears an oath to the Constitution. Democracy is an essential part of the obligations of all elected officials.
Chris Hollins is a leading candidate for Houston City Controller. Mr. Hollins had been running for Mayor, but switched races after Sheila Jackson Lee got in the race.
Mr. Hollins was discussing issues of democracy when running for Mayor. He's still doing so as a candidate for Controller. He has consistently spoken up about attacks on Houston and Harris County from the far-right Texas legislature.
However, Mr. Hollins could make his commitment to democracy even more visible in his campaign.
For example, on his website he has a section called "Building A Safer Houston." This section has no mention of protecting democracy.
There is no public safety without democracy. With our Houston elected school board removed in what was just 60 years ago a Jim Crow city, the prospect of a return to that Jim Crow era of violent disenfranchisement is real
Mr. Hollins has a section called "Expand Opportunity Across Houston" on the website. Again, no mention of threats to democracy. Yet opportunity is surely diminished in a society lacking basic freedom.
Politics is an act of imagination. Communication is creativity.
Mr. Hollins is on the right track.
Here is more he could do:
Announce a plan to increase turnout and involvement in 2023 Houston city elections.
Make a public pledge to help the Democratic ticket in Harris County in 2024 and encourage other Democrats running for the city office to do the same.
Use campaign funds and influence to help develop and train non-white and progressive organizers in Houston.
Openly insist that law enforcement unions always support free and fair elections in Texas and that they step away from elected officials and candidates seeking to restrict democracy and overturn elections.
The Houston Democracy Project looks to empower rank and file Houstonians to fight for democracy & insist candidates running for public office in Houston fight for democracy as well.
Please help this effort by donating.
Yesterday the Houston Democracy Project was the topic of conversation on the ongoing Facebook Live interview series run by great local Democrats & democracy advocates Diana Martinez Alexander and Michelle Palmer.
The interview went well and is well-worth your time!
Here is the link to the show.
Also today the John Cornyn Houston had a great crew of 18 for Week 334. You see the picture below. I mention the Cornyn Protest on the blog because A. I'm a part of the Cornyn Protest team and B. The Cornyn Protest team is 100% grassroots.
The Cornyn Protest is each Tuesday, 11;30-1, 5300 Memorial Dr.
The Cornyn Protest believes that in addition to voting, we'll have to show up physically and non-conventionally for the fights ahead over democracy and white supremacy. The Cornyn Protest team sets the example for friends, foes, police and passers-by to see.
The Houston Democracy Project is all about rank & file initiative and leadership for the fights ahead.
Houston Mayoral candidate Gilbert Garcia has released a series of pledges for his campaign.
To my understanding, Mr. Garcia is a Democrat. Though his party affiliation is not on his website.
Republicans don't view local races as non-partisan. We shouldn't either.
You can be certain that Democrats who end up in a runoff with a Republican in Houston in 2023, will make clear voters know they are a Democrat.
The part of Mr. Garcia's pledges that got the attention of the Houston Democracy Project was under the section called "Repair Government Relations."
Mr. Garcia says he will "Improve relations between Austin and Houston."
How does the most diverse city in America improve relations with a white supremacist and authoritarian state government? What could we do as a city to appease the state? Be more white? Start voting Republican?
Mayor Turner told us when he ran for Mayor in 2015 that his years in the legislature would smooth things with the state. How did that work?
2023 Houston Mayoral candidate John Whitmire says his collaboration with outright fascists in today's Texas Republican Party will benefit the city. But there sure was no evidence of that benefit in the recently concluded legislative session.
Mr. Garcia also says he will "Engage with the TEA to understand the pathway for HISD's success."
Again--What in the TEA's conduct so far in running HISD suggests meaningful partnership is possible? Where is mention by Mr. Garcia of the loss of our elected school board in what just 60 years ago was a Jim Crow city?
Here is how Mr. Garcia could improve his platform as it relates to democracy:
Make democracy a top issue in his campaign. Discuss democracy on campaign literature and on his website.
Speak up on the loss of our elected school board and continuing Republican efforts to reverse 2022 Democratic wins in Harris County.
Announce a plan to increase turnout and involvement in Houston city elections.
Make a pledge to help the Democratic ticket in Harris County in 2024.
Use campaign funds and influence to help develop and train non-white and progressive organizers in Houston.
Insist that police unions always support free and fair elections in Texas and that they step away from elected officials and candidates seeking to restrict democracy and overturn elections.
Openly identify as a Democrat on campaign materials and in public appearances.
Every day is a new day for Mr. Garica to commit to protecting and expanding democracy in Houston.
The Houston Democracy Project is working to change the culture of how municipal elections are conducted in Houston. We can't fight for our freedom in low-turnout, special-interest funded, police union focused elections. We can't protect ourselves that way. There is no public safety without democracy.
Please keep up with the project, share word of this effort, reach out with your thoughts and suggestions at email@example.com and consider donating.
Each week I watch the Thursday public pre-trial hearing on Zoom, before Judge David Peeples in San Antonio, about the 21 election-denial suits filed by Harris County Republicans defeated in the 2022 elections.
Here is the account of the June 15 meeting. There was no June 22 meeting.
I missed the most recent--June 29--hearing because I was traveling in the eastern time zone & got confused about what time it was. I tuned in at the wrong hour. No worries though. I still have useful stuff to report.
Here are the weekly repeating points: Re-doing elections is sought--Not declaring new winner./Judge Peeples decides cases. No jury./Judge Peeples seems fair-minded./First trial is loser Erin Lunceford against Judge Tamika Craft. It’s separated from other cases because it is further along in discovery. Starts August 1./Other 20 cases in fall. Maybe all 20 in a bundle. Maybe two separate trials./All cases likely headed to hyper-partisan Texas Supreme Court./ Also upcoming is motion from election winners for summary dismissal of cases before any trials because there is no solid evidence.
In these hearings, the Judge asks the lawyers questions about what evidence they’ll present, on what facts & witnesses the evidence will be based, are the many lawyers involved in this matter cooperating with each other as the Judge expects & when should we schedule certain proceedings.
There was some (phony) news from the June 29 hearing. Attorneys for the Republican losers complained Harris County Elections Administrator Cliff Tatum did not show up for a deposition. The thing is Mr. Tatum has already been deposed and the Republican side keeps wanting to depose him some more. A new date for the deposition has been set. A tempest in an extremist teapot.
I also saw a complaint from a right-winger that most or all of the attorneys for the Democrats were on vacation and missed the June 29 hearing. This is also horse hockey. All the folks in the hearings--including Judge Peeples-- discuss vacations. They mention vacations every session. They are prosperous folks and it is summer. A very hot summer. They take vacations.
It’s important to share these facts because the right is doing a better job getting out their interpretations than is our side. There are right wing media sources offering regular updates on the hearings. I find our side of the aisle is not as aware. We need to see these hearings as part of the Republican assault on our most basic rights.
There were new attacks last week from local law enforcement unions on one of our Harris County Democratic judges. These attacks are at this point are not about crime or law & order. They are about creating the climate where the rights of Harris County voters to select their own judges is taken away--Just as the people of Houston have lost an elected school board.
Two recent investigative reports, one by Jen Rice at the Houston Chronicle and the other by Andrew Schneider at KUHF 88.7 FM, say these lawsuits are bunk.
I’ve started the Houston Democracy Project to change the culture of city elections in Houston. There must be greater focus on promoting and protecting democracy. These updates are part of that work. Please check out the Project, share word & donate. This all takes time and effort. Anti-democracy forces are well-funded. We must have the resources required to defend ourselves.
I'm back in Houston after an out-of-town visit to family and friends & am full speed ahead with the Houston Democracy Project.
Tomorrow, 7/2, I'll have my weekly report on the most recent pre-trial hearing from the 21 Harris County Republican election-denial lawsuits.
On Monday, 7/3, the Project will be the topic of the interview you see below. Please share word of the broadcast & tune in. It's on Diana's Facebook page which is open to all.
On Tuesday, 7/4, the John Cornyn Houston Office Protest will have Red, White & Blue cupcakes (Or maybe cookies.) for Week 334. The Cornyn Office Protest is each Tuesday, 11:30 to 1, 5300 Memorial Dr.
On Wednesday, 7/5, I'll be at the Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus monthly meeting--I'm a member--to promote the Project and talk to folks. I'd like to talk to you!
The Houston Democracy Project Blog--you are reading it right now--is back to daily posting.
Later in July, I'll be writing to every Democrat for Houston Municipal Office about what they can do to protect and expand democracy in Houston. It's our job as rank & file Democrats and democracy advocates to hold incumbents and candidates accountable. I'll share the letter here & also discuss responses.
I'm glad to report I've been asked to speak at a Harris County Democratic club meeting in August. Details to come. I'm available to speak at any club/org meeting.
Please follow, take part in and financially support the Houston Democracy Project.
I'm Neil Aquino