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David Martin

Endorsement watch: HCDE and District E

The Chron endorses three Democrats for the Harris County Department of Education.

At-Large Position 3: Democratic challenger Diane Trautman would bring expertise and professionalism to the job. As a professor of education at Stephen F. Austin State University, she taught courses in ethics and leadership – areas that would be useful on the county board, which astoundingly lacks an ethics policy. With previous banking experience, she’s strong in finance. And knows first-hand how the department helps schools. As principal of Tomball Junior High, Trautman saved enough by ordering supplies through the co-op that she was able to fund a science program.

Position 6, Precinct 1: Democratic nominee Erica Lee would be a strong advocate for Head Start and Early Childhood Intervention. As a first-grade teacher at HISD’s Lantrip Elementary, she says, she could easily tell which kids had benefited from those programs.

Position 4, Precinct 3: Silvia Mintz knows first-hand the importance of education to achieving the American dream. In 1998, when she came to the United States from Guatemala, she worked as a janitor. “My first words in English,” she says, “were ‘Windex’ and ‘mop.'” After attending community-college classes, she graduated magna cum laude from the University of St. Thomas; then received her law degree at South Texas College of Law. Now in private practice, she’d be a strong advocate for expansion of Head Start.

Trautman is of course running against the ridiculous Michael Wolfe. Lee, who thankfully won the runoff in that screwed-up primary, will easily complete the single easiest pickup opportunity that 2012 has to offer. As I said before, Silvia Mintz is the kind of person I want to see get elected to something. I’m just glad she showed up for the editorial board screening. If at least one of Trautman and Mintz join Lee in being elected, the HCDE board will become majority Democratic, not too shabby considering that four years ago at this time it was all Republican.

Meanwhile, the Chron makes the establishment choice in the special election for City Council District E.

David Martin

With a resume that boasts companies like Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers, [David] Martin has the accounting background that Houston needs in a time of pension problems and budget challenges. But in addition to this financial expertise, Martin also has an energetic optimism about the city that voters should want in their elected officials. He talks about his time on the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority – where he has served as chairman of the finance committee and secretary/treasurer – like a microcosm of Houston: a diverse group of people all pulling in the same direction. As Martin explains, it is that diversity and energy that makes Houston a wonderful place to live and work, not to mention how they create an appealing location for business.

[…]

Martin already has several projects in mind for his extensive district. He’d like to build a fire station on the west side of Kingwood and another for Clear Lake. Martin’s also interested in integrating flight training and engineering at Ellington Field with science programs at local schools, better tourist passes for the Lone Star Flight Museum and Johnson Space Center … the list goes on. This is the sort of on-the-ground knowledge you’d would expect from an incumbent.

With an eye on fiscal responsibility and a heart for Houston, Dave Martin offers the best choice for District E voters.

See here for the Chron overview of that race. With three candidates, there is the possibility of a runoff, and with a special election looming for SD06, things could get a little complicated. The sensible solution would be to schedule both elections at the same time.

[Harris County Clerk Stan] Stanart said his office is coordinating with Perry’s as to when a special election for the senate seat could be held — perhaps in tandem with a city runoff, and perhaps not.

“There’s potential logistics roadblock that could come up if we had a runoff already scheduled,” Stanart said. “You don’t want to confuse voters having two early votings going on at the same time. We’re looking at calendars, what makes the most sense.”

As we know from the special election in District H in 2009, only the early voting centers in the affected district would be open for SD06 and District E. It certainly would be best to have them all open at the same time, and only once if there’s any overlap. We’ll see how that plays out.

District E overview

Here’s the Chron overview of the special election in City Council District E to replace CM Mike Sullivan.

David Martin

The establishment guy is David Martin, a member of the Humble Independent School District board. Until he resigned in August, he was one of Mayor Annise Parker’s appointees to the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. He has the endorsement of incumbent Mike Sullivan, who is resigning the seat to run for county tax assessor-collector with a year left in his council term. Martin is the only candidate who has organizational endorsements, including those of the Houston Police Officers’ Union and the Houston Apartment Association, as well as from former District E Councilman Rob Todd and state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Humble. He is a managing director at Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Elizabeth Perex

He is cut from the same cloth as Sullivan, who is among the chief critics of the mayor and representative of the district where Parker fared poorly in her re-election last year. Martin describes himself as “a Republican, fiscal conservative, a Christian. I believe in good schools, I’m pro-business.”

Lonnie Allsbrooks

Yet, unlike his opponents, he is not throwing rocks at City Hall.

“I want to work with the mayor to get things done for District E,” Martin says. “I think she respects me and I respect her.”

The upstarts: Lonnie Allsbrooks and Elizabeth Perez.

Here are the candidates’ websites: Martin, Perez, Allsbrooks. As of this morning, Perez and Martin had 30-day campaign finance reports filed; she showed a paltry $375 raised and $1500 spent, with a $4500 outstanding loan to herself, while he raised $15,150, spent $3,742, and had $11,407 on hand. Martin is a first time candidate for Council, Perez finished third in the open At Large #2 race in 2011, Allsbrooks finished last among eight candidates for At Large #1 in 2009. Martin is also the lone Kingwood candidate, and the last two Council members from District E have been from Kingwood. I did not have the bandwidth to try to schedule interviews with these candidates, so I can’t give you an impression of them beyond that. (I did interview Allsbrooks in 2009.) If you live in District E, what is your impression of these candidates?

The Willingham jury

You know, I don’t blame any of the jurors in the Cameron Todd Willingham trial for the verdict they rendered. Based on the evidence that was presented to them, a guilty verdict was to be expected. They had no way of knowing that the “science” used to “prove” arson was bogus. If they want to keep believing now that they did the right thing then, I completely understand. They’re not the problem.

We know about the problems with the “science” that was used to convict Willingham and who knows how many others. (Among them, Ernest Willis, who was eventually freed. Find a copy of this month’s Texas Monthly and read about him.) And we know about the problems with the Texas Forensic Science Commission, which is supposed to be examining these procedures and coming up with standards and recommendations to ensure we do a better job going forward. That can be summed up as John Bradley and his coverup crusade. But I don’t think I fully appreciated the problem of Willingham’s attorney, David Martin, and his inability to respect his client’s privilege until I read this story. I have to ask: The next time someone writes this story again – it’s been written before, it will surely be written again – will he or she take the time to wonder whether it is appropriate for Martin to be running his mouth like this? Seems to me that might be the even bigger story here.