Yesterday was Election Day in Houston. There were two strong wins for democracy. Proposition A which allows three council members to introduce items to the Council agenda passed easily. So did Proposition B which calls for more equitable representation for Houston on an important regional transportation council.
(Above is a picture of Houston today.)
Another positive outcome was the strong first place finish of Chris Hollins in a four way race for City Controller. Mr. Hollins won 44.8% of the vote and will advance into the two-candidate runoff. Mr. Hollins has been among the most vocal of Houston municipal candidates in discussing attacks on democracy in Houston and Harris County.
Some of the other results were less hopeful. I'll be discussing that tomorrow when I write about Houston Council candidates who made it into a runoff & then the next day when I post about the Mayoral runoff.
The Houston Democracy Project works to see and explain Houston and Harris County politics through the lens of the expansion and protection of democracy. I work to flatten local politics to only matters impacting the strength of our democracy and freedoms. There is no conflict in candidates and elected officials emphasizing democracy while still focusing on other issues.
There are many reasons municipal candidates should be talking about protecting and expanding democracy in Houston. The main reason is that democracy is under siege and it is a local concern. We've lost our elected school board in what just 60 years ago was a Jim Crow city. There are still--still--lawsuits before a Texas judge by defeated Harris County Republican candidates seeking to undo 2022 election results. Ken Paxton is the Attorney General of Texas and state is run by authoritarian thugs. Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is openly discussing using the military to repress protest and dissent.
We have an incomplete definition of public safety in political campaigns and public dialogue. Crime is certainly an important issue. But we also require democracy to be safe in our lives. People need the safety afforded by democracy and an open society to speak freely, to believe differently & to be who they are.
Here are ways the people we elect in Houston and Harris County can fight for democracy:
*Use their resources, influence and time to campaign for Democrats in every election cycle. While the Democratic Party is not perfect, the anti-democratic threats are coming from Republicans. We could use a lot more help from elected Democrats in safe seats.
*When accepting law enforcement union endorsements, insist that such unions step back from support of candidates and elected officials who are attacking democracy.
*Speak up when democracy is under assault and help create a climate where people are informed and ready to act.
*Understand that protection of our freedom may require career, personal and even physical risks by public officials. Every politician has chosen this critical moment to seek or hold office. We must insist they meet the challenges they signed up for.
This protection of our safety and rights is what we must expect and demand of the winners of 2023 Houston municipal elections.
The Houston Democracy Project works daily to inspire, organize and strengthen pro-democracy coalitions in Houston and Harris County. The Project will continue through 2024 at the least.
Please share word of the Houston Democracy Project and support the effort with your contribution. If you have a question about the Project or a suggestion, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm Neil Aquino