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January 24th, 2018:

Interview with Allison Lami Sawyer

Allison Sawyer

I’ve done probably a couple hundred interviews since I first got the idea to talk to candidates as a way of doing this blog. Many of them have been for primaries and odd year races, where I may or may not have a preferred candidate, or I may be trying to decide for myself whom to support. Every once in awhile, though, there’s a race where there is no choice, because one candidate is completely unacceptable. You know what and who I’m talking about here, in the primary for HD134. There’s the idiot Lloyd Oliver, and then there’s Allison Lami Sawyer, the one candidate worth your vote in HD134. A physicist with an MBA from Rice, she is the CEO of an oil and gas safety firm, and in case I haven’t mentioned it, she’s also the only candidate worth your vote this March. Here’s the interview:

You can see all of my legislative interviews as well as finance reports and other information on candidates on my 2018 Legislative Election page.

Judicial Q&A: Linda Dunson

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. You can see other Q&As and further information about judicial candidates on my 2018 Judicial page.

Linda Dunson

1. Who are you and what are you running for?

My name is Linda Marie Dunson. I grew up in a small town in east Texas. I grew up very poor and disadvantaged. As a child decisions were made about me by others who were not my family, nor did they live in my neighborhood, nor did they look like me. Those who were in “authority” assessed my situations and made judgments and predetermined my sentence without giving me the opportunity to speak for myself nor did they communicate with my family. As an example, since my mother was a maid I was told that I would also be maid because it was a self fulfilling prophecy. They were wrong! They fueled the desire in me, the fire, the passion for advocating on behalf of others, especially children.

I am running the position of Judge for the 309th Family District Court, Harris County, Texas.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The Family District court oversees matters such as divorce, adoption, child support, child protective services, and other related matters.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for the 309th because I want to see respect for both lawyers and client, decency and integrity returned to the bench. I want to see all who come before the court be treated justly, fairly and impartially, without being discriminated against because they look different or have a different sexual orientation, while respecting the rule of law . I want to see passion for people in general and compassion for people who are experiencing one of the most emotionally upheaval times in their lives. I want to see each case treated individually and not just rubber stamped. I want to stop seeing so many families broken when they can be mended. I want to stop seeing children treated as puppies in an adoption puppy mill. Strong family equals a strong America. I want to see a stronger America.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I am academic. In addition to my law degree, I have an LL.M inTax and I am a licensed U. S. Customs broker. All of which requires a heighten level of reading comprehension and critical thinking. Therefore, I have the capabilities to read, comprehend and interpret the many laws associated with the practice of family law.

I am knowledgeable. My practice of law has been centered on issues involving family matters. I worked several years providing free legal services consisting of mostly family law to indigent individuals. From time to time, I volunteer with different agencies to provide family law legal services to the poor. I attend family law continuing education seminars. I have always surrounded myself with mentors who are certified in a particular practice area of law, i.e.,family.

I have management experience in the fast food industry, haircare industry, and as a legal program director. As well, I have been a small business owner since the 1980s. Additionally, I have an Advanced Family Law Mediation certification. My managerial experiences helped to develop my listening and organizing skills. The aforementioned experiences also allowed me to interact will all types of people. Management and people skills are necessary to maintain the decorum of the court and operate it in an organized an effective manner.

I am compassionate. I understand the human condition. I understand that the are many ethnic groups with many cultural norms living in America. I understand that there are individuals who may believe differently than I in regards to religion and sexuality.

I have the a demeanor that is becoming to a Judge. I am consistent in my dealing with people. I believe that everyone is entitle to a fair, impartial and just decision. I listen and I connect with people. Moreover, I believe the rule of law should be respected.

I believe that lawyers ought to be allowed to represent their client zealously without being disrespected by the bench. Let the lawyers practice law and let the Judge be the judge.

Family is my passion. I believe that family comes in all shapes and sizes. Dynamics in the family are reflected in the dynamics that are seen in society. I believe that everyone deserves to be heard and to be treated with decency and a certain level of respect.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because children and families are important. Families are the backbone of this great country. And, children are the future of our Nation. Both, family and child, deserve fairness, justice, impartiality and equal protection of the law.

6. Why should people vote for you in the March primary?

People should vote for me because I genuinely care. I have advocated for others ever since I can remember. I have been in the trenches. I have given brain, brawn and bucks to improve the human condition, expecting nothing in return. I have been consistent.

I am a Progressive Democrat with traditional democratic values. I believe in Opportunity, Equality, Hard Work (Jobs), Education, Healthcare. I believe in embracing differences. I believe in equality, justice and fairness. And, I truly believe that a person should be judged by their character.

People should vote for me because I want to continue the fight for equality, justice and fairness.

I am the best and most qualified candidate. I bring with me knowledge, skill, an unmatched personal experience and unsurpassed compassion.

Dallas County GOP sues to knock basically all Dallas Democrats off the ballot

Well, that escalated quickly.

Dallas County Republicans have filed a lawsuit to have 128 Democrats kicked off the March 6 primary ballot.

The lawsuit, filed in Dallas County late Friday, contends that Dallas County Democratic Party Chairman Carol Donovan didn’t sign the petitions of 128 Democratic Party candidates before sending them to the Texas Secretary of State’s office, as required by law.

“The Election Code says the chairman, and nobody else, has to sign them,” said Elizabeth Alvarez Bingham, a lawyer for the Dallas County Republican Party. “Carol Donovan is the chair. She was supposed to sign them. She didn’t do it.”

The news stunned some Democrats after a lawyer for their party notified them of the lawsuit Sunday afternoon.

“We have assembled a legal team of Dallas’ best and brightest Democratic election law attorneys,” Donovan said late Sunday in a news release. “Though we are taking this case seriously, the Republican Party’s lawsuit is not supported by Texas law. We will fight to ensure that all Democratic voters in Dallas County can participate in a fair Primary election.”

[…]

According to the lawsuit, only a fraction of the candidate petitions approved by Donovan actually contained a signature by her hand. The GOP lawsuit alleges Donovan’s signature on other petitions was not hers.

There’s not a whole lot of information to go on here, so let me note a couple of comments I saw on Facebook from people who know election law far better than I do. The first is from Glen Maxey:

“This is a frivolous lawsuit. The Primary Director, under the direction of the Chair, signed these forms. That’s the way it’s been done for decades. And the courts have ruled that way in the past.”

And the second is from Gerry Birnberg:

“And that’s how the Harris County Republican Party does it (or has for years).”

To that extent, and based on another comment I saw, here is Sec. 1.007:

DELIVERING, SUBMITTING, AND FILING DOCUMENTS. (a) When this code provides for the delivery, submission, or filing of an application, notice, report, or other document or paper with an authority having administrative responsibility under this code, a delivery, submission, or filing with an employee of the authority at the authority’s usual place for conducting official business constitutes filing with the authority.

In other words – and remember, I Am Not A Lawyer – it seems like the law allows for an employee of the county party to sign the documents, in place of the Chair. Which is what Maxey and Birnberg are saying. Individual candidates have had ballot applications rejected for technical issues with petitions they have submitted, but this isn’t quite the same as that.

There’s also the question of standing, which DCDP lawyers brought up in response to this suit.

According to a document filed late Monday on behalf of 14 candidates threatened with removal from the ballot, the Dallas County Republican Party and its chairwoman, Missy Shorey, have no standing to bring the suit, since they are not candidates in the election.

“The DCRP is clearly not a candidate and Shorey does not allege that she is a candidate for any office,” according to the filing from the lawyers. “As such, neither the DCRP nor Shorey have the necessary personal interest to have standing to seek the removal of any candidate from the ballot.”

Shorey and her attorney, Dallas lawyer Elizabeth Alvarez Bingham, argue that Dallas County Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Donovan was required to sign the candidate paperwork of Democrats appearing on the March 6 ballot and send the documents to the Texas Secretary of State. Donovan signed only a fraction of the petitions submitted to her, but her signature, clearly signed by someone else, appears on the documents of the 128 candidates in question.

But the candidates, led by state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, say there’s nothing in election law that requires Donovan to “sign” candidate petitions, and that she can designate a person to review and sign petitions, if she chose.

[…]

Buck Wood, an attorney for the 14 candidates who responded to the suit, said it’s unlikely that the GOP lawsuit would result in anybody being removed from a ballot.

Wood said process duties, like those of a county party chairman, should not determine the fate of an “eligible” candidate because it would open the door for sloppy or diabolical county leaders sabotaging efforts of candidates across the state.

“It’s not an eligibility issue,” Wood said. “There’s no way anybody can be replaced.”

I have a hard time believing a court would essentially cancel dozens of elections for what seems to be normal practice, but I suppose anything can happen. At the very least, it looks like this action may be dismissed or withdrawn for now, but may be raised again after the primaries. We’ll see.

Endorsement watch: 14th Court of Appeals

More judicial races. We have a long way to go with these.

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals District, Place 3: Jerry Zimmerer

This primary race presents voters with a choice between two candidates who each offer different strengths.

Jerry Zimmerer, who earned two Master of Law degrees from University of Houston Law Center in addition to his law degree from South Texas College of Law, considers this judicial bench an academic job. He has spent close to 25 years in private practice, and yet the candidate had trouble touting any cases where he fought for justice or had a lasting impact on jurisprudence in Texas.

His opponent, Joseph R. Willie II, is a retired dentist and Navy veteran in addition to being a lawyer, and he pointed to several significant appellate cases where he successfully advocated for the innocent and underdogs. However, Willie’s law license twice suffered a fully probated suspension imposed by the State Bar of Texas for running afoul of professional codes. At the end of the day, it’s hard to endorse someone with blots on his record even if he evinces the passion for the law that Willie demonstrates.

Our nod goes to Zimmerer, 63, who switched parties decades ago, noting that the Republican Party “has left me as it has left a lot of people.”

[…]

Justice, 14th Court of Appeals District, Place 8: Michele Barber Chimene

Michele Barber Chimene, our choice for Democratic nominee, has 25 years of experience practicing appellate law and has handled more than 50 civil appeals. It’s preferable that candidates have appellate experience for this bench, as the rules governing appeals are different than the rules of civil procedure that govern trials.

Chimene, 60, is a University of Houston Law Center graduate and started her career as a geologist. She is admitted to practice before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, and told the Houston Chronicle editorial board that she firmly believes the Legislature should make the law, and the judiciary should just apply it.

Chimene’s Q&A is here, and a Q&A for her opponent Meg Poissant is here. They’ve split a couple of group endorsements, while Zimmerer has received all of the ones that have been given out in his race. His opponent doesn’t appear to have any web presence, which would have been a problem for me in any event. There was also a Republican race endorsement at this link, if you’re into that sort of thing.