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Runoff overview: District A

I don’t remember there being a Chron overview story for the District A regular election, but now that it’s in overtime we get an overview story about the race between CM Brenda Stardig and challenger Helen Brown. Better late than never, right?

Just a few thoughts about the article. First, it’s a little silly to call this runoff a “referendum” on Mayor Parker. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we just had a referendum on the Mayor, and she passed, if just barely. A 5000-vote (if that much) Council runoff in a single district four weeks later isn’t going to tell us anything we didn’t already know. I’ve no doubt the Mayor is an issue in this race, perhaps the key issue, but let’s keep some perspective here.

Some of the other issues in this race are a bit curious.

Brown supports the repeal of Proposition 1, the voter-approved initiative that called for the creation of a monthly drainage fee. Stardig voted in favor of the ordinance that Council passed to implement it. Brown calls for the removal of George Greanias as Metro CEO because of his viewing of pornography at work. Like Parker, Stardig favors leaving that decision to the Metro board “until it impacts the actual function of the business.” Stardig favored the city’s approximately $20 million investment in infrastructure and land to get the Dynamo to build a $60 million soccer stadium downtown that the city and county will own. Brown argues that is an improper public investment in a private business.

I’m pretty sure Council can’t pass an ordinance that overturns a charter amendment that has been adopted by referendum – we do have to respect the will of the voters, right? – but I suppose they could vote to put a repeal referendum on the ballot. That is, if the Mayor gives them a repeal referendum to put on the ballot, which needless to say isn’t going to happen. Or there will be another petiton drive, for which the vote to put it on the ballot is a formality. Greanias isn’t going anywhere unless the Mayor wants him to, and she has shown no inclination of that. As for Dynamo Stadium, last I checked it was about six months from being completed. This Council did vote twice on aspects of the deal – both unanimous, for what it’s worth – but the vote to make the land available for the stadium was taken in 2008, which is to say before Stardig’s time on Council. And ironically, it was Annise Parker who ran an ad that disparaged the deal during the 2009 election. Politics does make strange bedfellows.

Not that there’s anything wrong with examining past issues. I certainly asked plenty of questions about what had gone on before when doing my Council interviews, and knowing how someone would have acted tells you a lot about what they’re likely to do in the future. Long as everyone has a realistic expectation about what a single Council member can do about some of these past issues, I guess.

Finally, I’ll say again that if this election turns out to be little more than a Republican primary, I don’t see how Stardig wins. She’s clearly lost a lot of favor among the activists. She needs the electorate to be bigger than that, which means she needs to convince some Democrats and independents to come out and vote for her. How she does that I don’t know – maybe point out Brown’s history lessons and hope for the best – but with early voting for the runoff set to begin this Wednesday the 30th, she better figure it out quickly.

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14 Comments

  1. joshua bullard says:

    I met helena brown before election night-we had an appointment set-she showed up on time-when i left her a message on her voice mail-she returned my call promptly-listen,this is the real deal about district a-bruce tatro and toni lawrence have always been and still are highly active in this district-it would take alot to piss them off-i suspect stardig thought the mayor would fair better at the poles-stardig has never returned my calls or emails.
    as far as charles kuffner suggesting that stardig may want to drag democrats to the poles-good luck there -last time i checked there where about 2 in total that even live in that district-that vote in a run off.
    i always faired well with bruce tatro and toni-I support canidate helena brown in district a.

    respectfully submitted joshua ben bullard

  2. Mainstream says:

    Ironic that Helena Brown gets GOP support when in 2008 she was unwilling to commit to support McCain for President over Obama.

    From a news report at the time of the national GOP convention:

    “Helena Brown, a Houston secretary who is an alternate in the Texas delegation to the Republican National Convention, attended the rally in a red cowboy hat and other state regalia.

    “It’s not a counter-convention,” she said of Paul’s event. “It’s a call for Republicans to return to their principles” of nonintervention in foreign countries and American lives.

    She said she was unsure about who she will back for president.”

  3. Mainstream says:

    In case the context is not clear, this refers to a counter-convention for Ron Paul held at the same time as the national GOP convention in 2008. Helena Brown was a big Ron Paul for President supporter, which was not mentioned in the Chronicle analysis of the current District A contest, while her support of gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina did get a mention.

  4. joshua bullard says:

    @mainstream-thats my whole point exactly-helena brown is able to unite the people of district a in problem solving and your right she doesnt show favortism to either party-she cant be bought,now then “mainstream”,why dont you look at your point from that perspective and it should be easier for you to intake?

    helena brown hits high numbers in the run off
    joshua ben bullard

  5. Concerned District A Voter says:

    Brenda or her office has always returned my calls or emails very promptly. I worked with Brenda on many councils and boards before she ever ran for office. Why would her cell phone be on the political ads if she did want to answer your questions?

    Mysteriously Brenda’s political signs continue to be slashed and/or removed. Her opponent’s signs show up in the same place. Her volunteers have been instructed to post signs only where authorized. Brenda refuses to stoop to Helena Browns tactics. None of us are in pre-school I do you think. Know who could represent you.

    Helena recently worked as a part-time Secretary for a very small Village. So she should be a qualified as a puppet for Toni Lawrence and Helen Huey. Brenda Stardig wouldn’t let them pull her strings, but it looks as though the Puppet Masters failed to do a serious background check on Ms. Brown before backing her. According to reliable sources, Helena Brown was NOT the first choice. Know who could represent you.

    Toni Lawrence ran against Tatro in 1999 and 2001. She lost both races. She won in 2003 because Tatro was term limited. I worked on each of her campaigns. Copy and paste the link below about her negative campaign tactics.

    http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl/1999_3173212/voter-s-guide-city-council-district-a-lawrence-is.html

    Helena Brown is shown to be President of a Family Business. “Turris Davidica” that according to the Texas Secretary of State (SOS) currently is “NOT” in good standing. Turris Davidica translates to Tower of David. The address is 2125 Blalock. A dumpy home with the porch light on 24/7. If she can’t manage her own company, HOW is she going to represent 100,000 +-residents in our district? Google her company. Check with Texas SOS. Know who could represent you.

    Go see the trashy, Moritz Village Townhomes (36 Townhomes) at 1715 Moritz # 27 and hope our District A doesn’t become like this place. Is this her model for Urban Living outside the Loop? The front doors and windows have metal bars everywhere. Security must be a real problem.

    Strange she is registered to vote at a residence located at 1513 Mortiz. (Public Record) Does she live at Moritz Village? Maybe not. Texas SOS has her listed as a member at large, not President for Moritz Village Townhomes HOA. So this is more examples of her integrity and honor. Know who could represent you.

    http://www.hctax.net/Voter/voterdata.aspx?inputName=brown%20helena

    Don Sumners, Harris County Tax Collector, one of Helena’s Supporters who is registered to vote in Spring, TX not in District A, that will be one vote she can’t count on.

    http://www.hctax.net/Voter/voterdata.aspx?inputName=sumners%20don

    There is a debate Sunday, December 4th between the candidates hosted by Spring Branch Super neighborhoods. Time and location to be announced in The Memorial Examiner. Know who could represent you.

    http://blog.chron.com/houstonpolitics/2011/11/history-according-to-helena-brown/#comment-14470

    Don’t count out Brenda Stardig too fast. Many of her supporters never considered an unknown would to be any threat to her re-election. Now they have a second chance to vote for her re-election.

  6. joshua bullard says:

    concerned district a voter-i read your comments-let me give it to you striaght up and down-with out all the rhetoric-“1999″ was a lifetime ago-toni and bruce are not running for office-their “concerned voters of district a” there both endorsing helena brown for gods sake along with 57 percent of the entire district a-what more do you want? stardig is clearly the long shot at this point,now damn it i am always down for a good fight,but helena brown has been running a super positive camp-period,shes not messing with stardigs signs-the real problem is stardig didnt bother to put but only a handful of signs out to begin with-thats the truth-stardig didnt even bother to truly campaign,

    listen to me-ive investigated each camp- helena brown is the best canidate for district a at this time,hands down,you need to stop with all this tom foolery and jump on board with the rest of us,theres plenty room for you as well, and helena brown is welcoming all from district a ,ive found that her door is always open.

    run along now and vote helena brown district a
    trust me, youll thank me down the road…….
    the real joshua ben bullard 832 258 7511

  7. Concerned District A Voter says:

    Joshua

    You must be unable to understand what I wrote.

    Please tell us how Helena is qualified to hold this office. She has no real work history since her graduation. Do you call lies and half truths a positive campaign? How is that positive?

    I know how many signs are being distroyed or removed. The police have been notified and will be watching. Too close to the storefront to be messing around on Moritz. The bank has cameras all around. On Monday we should at least know who has removed 15 signs over this long weekend.

    You should get with the best candidate Brenda Stardig.

  8. Concerned District A Voter says:

    Joshua

    Left off a comment about your comment, “along with 57 percent of the entire district a-what more do you want? ” If Brown had 57% of District A THERE WOULD BE NO RUNOFF. IS THIS FUZZY MATH OR JUST MORE HALF TRUTHS AND LIES?

    She has no experience to run District A. This is a serious crisis. Voters need to know the truth about Helena Brown.

    The house she is registered to vote at 1513 Moritz has cars in the yard and 1715 Moritz # 27 looks like a prison with burgular bars that don’t meet city code. I wish I could share pictures on this blog, but to be an informed voter you run along now and see for yourself.

    Brenda has block walked, sent direct mail, received overwhelming endorsements from our Firefighters and Police Department just to mention 2 of her many endorsements. So you should get on the winning team. Vote for Brenda Stardig.

  9. Research Counts says:

    Trust but Verify

    Candidates for office are applying for a job and we voters are their potential employers. Resume enhancement / embellishment are common occurrences in the real world which is why most employers take some time to try and verify the claims made on resumes. I believe voters should be as diligent as employers and verify the claims made by potential office holders.

    Recently, I took about 45 minutes and did a bit of resume verification on the claims of both candidates for District A. After this brief exercise I believed I had found several resume embellishments on the part of Helena Brown. Shortly thereafter I wrote an email letter to all District A precinct chairs asking the question “Does anyone vet candidates for District A?” In this e-mail I listed those areas I thought might be an embellishment hoping to get some feedback verifying or correcting some of these issues.

    I received 15 reply’s; only one of which addressed any of my concerns. Most of the 15 responses attacked me for daring to ask the questions and went on to explain what a great volunteer and republican activist Helena is and how many campaigns she has worked in etc..

    One respondent indicated that all the support for claims on Helena’s resume could be found in the “16 years Helena has been a Precinct Chair person.” Then this respondent joined the others in attempting to shame me for daring to question her resume. This person did not address the apparent embellishment of her time at Bunker Hill Village or the fact that she does not list her tenure as a precinct chair person on her resume.

    On Monday, November 21, 2011, I contacted the Brown campaign to ask for a meeting to ask Helena about my concerns directly. I received the following response.
    Mr Knox,

    We are well aware of your previous e-mail sent to District A precinct chairs and others.

    Since you chose to send that email out prior to asking the campaign for the information we will assume that you are not interested in accurate reporting and instead have made the choice to advocate for the incumbent.

    Additionally you have personal knowledge of Ms Brown’s volunteerism, as you and she worked together on the Orlando Sanchez campaign. While you might not belive that to be significant, it is curious you choose to claim you have no knowledge of any previous involvement in her community.

    Had you choose to pursue a sincere dialogue we would have been more than happy to provide a response.

    When you “publish” your report we ask that you use the above response in your upcoming email.
    Phil Owens
    Evidently I hit a tender nerve in the Brown campaign.

    I have to say at this point that I do know both candidates, but was not, at the time of this inquiry, a strong supporter of either candidate. I did not participate in either candidate’s general election. I did not donate any money; I did not put out any yard signs, and did not discuss either candidate with any neighbors or friends prior to casting my vote on Election Day.

    Indeed, I did volunteer for the Orlando Sanchez campaign and did meet Helena Brown there. We essentially did what all good volunteers do. We prepared yard signs and mailers. Orlando’s campaign was a city wide campaign and his office was in District G not District A. When using the term “community” while running for an office in District A, a reasonable interpretation is that the candidate is referring to the District A community. I am still unaware of any of Ms. Brown’s volunteer and political activism in District A.

    I met Brenda Stardig when I worked for the Spring Branch Management District while she was president of a super neighborhood and later as a member of the Board of Directors for TIRZ 17.

    I found both to be personable but do not know either of them well enough to be considered more than an acquaintance.

    Based on my research I have decided to support Brenda Stardig for Council District A. I do not ask that you accept my research but rather encourage you to conduct your own research before you cast your next vote.

    FINDINGS
    Helena Brown

    Twenty-year resident of District A
    Helena Brown has lived in District A for a sufficient amount of time to qualify as a candidate for office. No attempt was made to verify claims beyond current required residency requirements to hold public office in the city of Houston.

    Lifelong community activist/volunteer
    Supporters of Helena Brown indicate she has been active in GOP political campaigns related to citywide, county and state candidates. However, no information was provided as to whom she volunteered or in which causes she was active in the District A community.

    Worked in City Government at Bunker Hill Village
    Technically Helena Brown worked for (not in) the city government of Bunker Hill Village. According to the Bunker Hill Village City Administrator, Helena Brown was a part time receptionist/clerk for approximately one year in 2007. Helena makes no further reference to any private or public work experience on her advertised resume.

    Business professional with 10 years of experience in administration, marketing, and technology
    Helena Brown supporters e-mail responses indicate all of her administrative, marketing, and technology experience is related to her work as a precinct chairperson.

    Helena Brown is listed by the Texas Secretary of State’s office as President of a Texas Corporation called Turris Davidica which is currently not in good standing. However, Helena Brown does not list this position as a credential in her biography.

    Member of the Houston Property Rights Association
    I do not consider membership in a club or association to be an example of leadership and made no attempt to verify Ms. Browns membership in this organization.

    Co-founder, Pachyderm Club of Northwest Houston
    According to Earl Lairson, the person who actually founded the Northwest Pachyderm Club, Helena Brown was among the original members of the group and served as a Vice President of Communications for a short time. She was not a “Co-Founder.”

    President, Moritz Village Townhomes Association
    Not Verified. I was unable to locate anyone from the Moritz Village Townhomes in the time allotted to this inquiry.

    Leader and organizer of numerous church, political, and community groups and projects
    This appears to be a restatement of point two “Lifelong community activist/volunteer.” According to e-mail responses from those who claim to know her, Helena is a frequent and prodigious volunteer and occasional paid staff member for a variety of candidates in citywide, county or state races. (No information provided by candidate or supporters identify any specific church, political, or community groups or projects in District A.)

    Honors graduate, University of St. Thomas (Houston, TX)
    Verified by The University of St. Thomas Registrar’s office

    FINDINGS

    Brenda Stardig

    Born and raised in District A
    Brenda Stardig has lived in District A for a sufficient amount of time to qualify as a candidate for office. No attempt was made to verify claims beyond current required residency requirements to hold public office in the city of Houston.

    Stardig is an accomplished businesswoman. She worked in the financial industry 20 years prior to her successful transition to residential real estate broker.
    According to the Texas Real Estate Commission Brenda Stardig possesses a current Real Estate Broker and Corporate Broker license which is current and in good standing.

    Brenda Stardig did agree to talk with me about her background and provided me with the information necessary to verify that she did work in the financial industry prior to obtaining her Real Estate licenses. I was able to confirm Brenda Stardig began her career as a part time teller while attending college and advanced in the industry to branch manager and ultimately a nation wide team leader.

    A Civic Club President of 1,000 homes for 9 years, a Super Neighborhood President, and a Chamber of Commerce Director, and member of the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council.
    Prior to being elected to city council, Brenda Stardig has a well documented record of community activism. I was able to confirm that she was president of Shadow Oaks civic club for nine years, did serve as President of a Super Neighborhood in Spring Branch, served as a member of the Board of Directors for TIRZ 17, a Director of the West Houston Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council.

    The District A office has also hosted community gatherings including movie nights and various town hall meetings.
    Brenda has held CIP meetings and attended Super neighborhood meetings, she has held several town hall meetings, attended numerous National Night Out functions. She represents her constituents at a variety of ribbon cuttings and events which benefit the residents of District A. And, contrary to her opponents claims, does make herself available to individual constituents as often as she can.

    Council Member Stardig always looks for opportunities to rid neighborhoods of unsafe buildings and finds new businesses to increase the quality of life for the residents of District A.
    Brenda Stardig is documented to have helped pass amendments to Chapter 10 of the Houston Code of Ordinances, enabling the City to address the problem of dangerous buildings in a more efficient and speedy manner.
    Brenda has used these tools to demolish a commercial garage located at 10030 Alfred, a burned out and abandoned home located in the Ridgecrest subdivision, The Gables of Inwood, Candlelight Trails, and Ella Square Apartments.
    Additionally, her record on City Council indicates Brenda Stardig has worked to pass or approve legislation which benefits the constituents of District A. Some of these include the appropriation of funds for the design of Tanner Road improvements from Hempstead Highway to Beltway 8 (CIP N-0589), sidewalk improvements in District A as part of the city’s Safe Sidewalk Program. Council Member Stardig’s budget amendment re-established the Neighborhood Matching Grants Program. She helped pass a city ordinance approving the acquisition of 224 acres of land which will be used for the construction of storm water detention and drainage facilities. Brenda helped pass amendments to the Chapter 28 Code of Ordinance authorizing transferring the permitting of sexually oriented businesses to Administrative Regulatory Affairs, thereby saving the city approximately $500,000 in police resources. She helped passed revisions to Chapter 30 (Noise and Sound Level regulations) to allow HPD officers to respond to loud bass music without the need for a sound meter and to allow rigorous prosecution of violations.
    In the area of Economic Development, Brenda helped approved a Chapter 380 economic development agreement with Intown Homes Ltd. for the development of over 1,000 single family homes in District A. During her tenure the Spring Branch Community Health Center opened up its Dental Services, Wal-Mart opened at 1118 Silber Road, bringing with it approximately 300 jobs. Methodist West Houston Hospital, opened its doors. The Texas Children’s West Hospital one of the largest suburban pediatric medical centers in the nation completed Phase I and opened in December 2010. Spring Branch Medical Center reopened, and construction is currently underway at 1318 Blalock where American First National Bank is soon to open.

    COMMENTARY

    Personally, I have no problem with candidates possessing little or no experience. There are no actual experience requirements necessary to apply for, or hold, any elected position in this country (except some courts or district attorneys who must possess a law degree).

    I do expect those seeking elective office to be honest in their appraisal of their skills, talents, and expertise so that I might choose whom I believe to be the most qualified candidate. When I see candidates omitting relevant information, engaging in embellishment, or resume expansion it gives me pause to wonder how honest they will be in representing me at city council. An equal concern must then follow as to how honest they will be in reporting back to me information from the City which may impact my daily life.

    It appears to me that our political leaders (Toni Lawrence, Bruce Tatro, Paul Bettencourt, and precinct chairs) do not vet candidates they endorse or support. Therefore, I will no longer rely on local political leaders to verify basic qualifications of candidates for public office. I believe I’ll do it myself from now on.

    This experience has been very positive for me and has served to re-teach a few important lessons.

    1. Some Politicians, and want–to-be politicians, regardless of party affiliation are equally devious and are likely to say, skew, embellish, or expand their resumes to obtain a public office of trust and power.

    2. Political leaders generally are as unreliable as any ideologue in any party.

    3. President Reagan was right. “Trust, but Verify”- before you vote!

  10. paul kubosh says:

    Brenda stardig = mayor parker. Enough said.

  11. Concerned District A Voter says:

    Paul

    Helena Brown = disaster

    Toni Lawrence was attached at the hip with Bill White when he was the mayor. So your point? You are backing a candidate who can’t hold a job.

    You were one of the few that made a lot on noise about red light cameras and should feel ashamed when an innocent person is killed by someone running a red light.

    Brenda has done so much good for District A since she has been on council. Look at her record.

  12. paul kubosh says:

    concerned: Your red light camera comments are late and shows a complete lack of knowledge about the red light camera scheme. If you researched this race like you did the red light camera scheme then you made my point. Also Lawrence isn’t running in this race and white is not parker.

  13. joshua bullard says:

    question-why are all the writers for brenda stardig using “handles” and not there real names, but everybody for helena brown is out in the open with nothing to hide,if you support brenda stardig then why do you hide behind a fake name”handle”why would you not come from behind the curtains and show yourslef to every body-i hope the voters of district a can see my point ,after all the majority of all the voters in -a- have already voted for helena brown and from what i hear are showing up in large nukmbers in the run off vote to finish the job.

    my name is joshua ben bullard and a iam the author of anti smoking legislation with in the city of houston listed under 2005-245 of the code of city ordinance that made all covered metro bus stops park and rides and rail stations smoke free saving the lives as well as extending the lives of hundreds of thousands of houstonians city wide,i have researched the race in district a and have determined that helena brown is the person that is best suited for district a.

    joshua ben bullard

  14. paul kubosh says:

    Joshua – well said. I also respect your opinion in Jones. We she see what happens.

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