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Herman Litt

Eight days out: Spending on voter outreach by At Large candidates

As with the Controller’s race, I took a look at spending on voter outreach for At Large candidates in the 30 day out report. Given that some large number of people have no clue about who is running for these offices, I figured I’d better look at the 8 day out reports as well. Here we go, starting with the big field in At Large #1:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================ Karen Derr 1,000.00 Advertising (HBAD) Karen Derr 150.00 Advertising (Jewish Herald Voice) Karen Derr 251.00 Advertising (Allen Jamail) Karen Derr 1,813.78 Advertising (Allen Jamail) Herman Litt 300.00 Advertising (Charity Productions) Herman Litt 600.00 Advertising (Jewish Herald Voice) Herman Litt 15,998.63 Mailer Herman Litt 1,110.65 Yard signs L Allsbrooks 2,000.00 Signs S Costello 840.13 Push cards S Costello 970.30 Push cards S Costello 80,000.00 Media buy (Rindy Miller) S Costello 12,625.00 Production S Costello 79,975.00 Media buy (Rindy Miller) S Costello 297.42 4 x 4 signs S Costello 2,846.98 4 x 4 signs Don Cook 315.73 Yard signs Don Cook 432.24 Postcard mailer Rick Rodriguez 1,500.00 Door hangers Rick Rodriguez 650.00 Web ad (Houston Chronicle)

Costello’s media buy is the big news here. You figure that has to be an advantage for him for getting into the runoff, as nobody else is doing anything remotely like it. Only Litt has sent a significant amount of mail, so advantage to him as well. I’ve been getting text messages from the Lonnie Allsbrooks campaign, but did not see an expenditure listed for text messaging; it may have simply been classified as “phones” or “phone service” or some such, however. I also didn’t see anything relating to video production, but that expense may be recent enough to not be in the 8 day report. He does have a contribution of $7280 listed in this report from “The New Beginning hosted by Nosa Edebor”, which I suppose could be an in-kind donation of the video production, but 1) it wasn’t listed as such, and 2) that’s above the $5K contribution limit. There was also a $12,125 contribution from the 30 day report that I’d forgotten about till I went back looking for something that might relate to this, with “friends of Barrett Brown” written in the in-kind box. Not sure what that’s about, but again, over the $5K limit. Oops.

UPDATE: I received the following in response to this:

We, here at the Allsbrooks Campaign, saw your latest blog entry about the At Large Candidates spending on voter out reach. We noticed you had some questions about our expenditures and our contributions.

1. First there is the question of text messages. Those are sent directly from our campaign phone and not by an outside company, so that is included in our “phone service”.

2. Secondly there is the video production of our latest video or slide show on YouTube. That video was done by a friend of Mr. Allsbrooks and will be on our next campaign finance report. Given it came out after the final day of our last report.

3. Lastly there is the question of our actual contributions because they appear to be over the $5000 limit. The “friends of Barrett Brown” and “The New Beginning hosted by Nosa Edebor” were two separate fundraisers that had nothing to do with the video production. The reason they are over the $5000 single person limit is because they were hosted by those people and other people were contributing to the campaign.

Thank you for you time,
Allsbrooks Campaign 09

So there you have it.

At Large #2:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================ Sue Lovell 30,450.00 Media buy (Rindy Miller) Sue Lovell 1,418.04 Mail R Shorter 375.00 Advertising (D-Mars) R Shorter 750.00 Signs Griff Griffin 70.00 Signs Griff Griffin 160.00 Push cards Griff Griffin 300.00 Flyers Andrew Burks 1,957.19 Signs Andrew Burks 376.80 Campaign Literature

My understanding is that Lovell’s purchase is enough for a week on cable – MSNBC was the station I’d heard – but I have not seen a video of her ad, nor have I seen it myself (no surprise since I never watch cable news). Anyone out there seen this? As for the rest, I guess they finally had their fill of Subway sandwiches at Griff’s headquarters, as I saw no more purchases of them. Good news for Lovell that nobody else is spending money, bad news that Griff and Burks come with built-in name recognition, thanks to their tireless efforts to be on a ballot as often as possible. She may win without a runoff, but it’s easy to imagine those two getting 20-25% of the vote each, and that leaves her very little room to get to 50% plus one.

At Large #4:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================ Noel Freeman 4,354.90 Printing & processing bulk mail CO Bradford 125.00 Radio ad (KWWJ) CO Bradford 75.00 Ad (Williams Temple) CO Bradford 1,000.00 Ad (African American News & Issues) CO Bradford 650.00 Radio ad (KCOH) CO Bradford 1,948.50 Door hangers CO Bradford 2,704.52 Push cards CO Bradford 2,186.65 Campaign signs CO Bradford 420.00 T-shirts CO Bradford 5,347.55 Door hangers CO Bradford 500.00 Texting campaign info CO Bradford 225.00 Ad (Jewish Herald Voice) CO Bradford 300.00 Ad (Our Tribune) CO Bradford 530.43 Yard signs Curtis Garmon 357.63 Car magnets Curtis Garmon 525.01 Push cards Curtis Garmon 1,428.48 Bumper stickers Curtis Garmon 2,458.36 Signs Curtis Garmon 1,200.00 Ad (KSEV)

We knew about Freeman’s mail piece, which attacked Bradford; I’m not sure if that had gone out before and this is a second mailing or if it’s just going out now, but he’ll need it to counter some of Bradford’s outreach. As with Gene Locke, Bradford has a paid field campaign, though of course not nearly as large, and he’s been on the radio. Bradford has the better name recognition, too, which cuts both ways for him. Garmon is basically self-financing – he listed no contributions on his form, and all of his expenditures were filed on the Schedule G form, which is for spending money loaned to oneself for the campaign.

Finally, At Large #5:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================ Jolanda Jones 8,521.44 Printing Jolanda Jones 23,115.12 Direct mail Jolanda Jones 21,273.92 Direct mail Jack Christie 3,003.94 Signs Jack Christie 5,000.00 Ad in mailer (Tx Conservative Review) Jack Christie 5,000.00 Ad in mailer (HCRP) Jack Christie 8,865.10 Mailer Jack Christie 30,000.00 Mailer

Jones hits the mailboxes in a big way, though as yet I have not seen what she may have sent. Anyone gotten this? Christie did pretty well in this period after having squat to report with 30 days out. He raised $48K, helped by six $5K donations, including one each from Bob and Doylene Perry. He also spent $62K, which includes that $30K mailer, which was a loan to himself. Makes you wonder what things would be like if he’d gotten an earlier start. Regardless, I think his late push has the potential to make this a race again. I still expect CM Jones to win, but Christie could sneak up on her and force a runoff. I did not see any reports for Davetta Daniels or Carlos Obando; at least in the latter case, he may have been distracted.

Coming Monday: Spending in the district Council races.

UPDATE: See the note above from the Allsbrooks campaign. As of this morning, reports from the Obando and Daniels campaigns were available online. Obando had some expenditures on signs, and Daniels had three entries totaling $3500 on “advertising/marketing”, whatever that means.

Endorsement watch: At Large

Having dispatched with the District Council races yesterday, the Chron continues with the schedule I’d hoped they’d follow by making their endorsements in the At Large races. As I thought, they went with incumbents Sue Lovell in #2 and Jolanda Jones in #5. The other two were not what I thought they’d be.

At-Large Position 1

• In a crowded field of eight candidates vying to replace outgoing incumbent and mayoral candidate Peter Brown, the best choice for voters is health care management specialist Herman Litt, a former trustee and board chairman of the Houston Community College. He is also the past president of Southwest Houston 2000, which focused on lowering crime and spurring economic development in the area.

As a qualification for office, Litt cites his experience as a consensus builder in bringing the fractured HCC board together. He has an imposing list of endorsements, including former Houston mayors Fred Hofheinz and Bob Lanier.

Litt pledges to work to extend Houston’s parks and hike-and-bike trails and to establish a regional crime lab to replace the troubled Houston police facility.

I had guessed they’d pick Stephen Costello, but that was strictly a guess, as there are too many well-qualified candidates in this race to get a good feel for it. Litt is one of those strong candidates and a fine choice, and he does have a lot of backing, though Costello and Karen Derr have won plenty of group endorsements as well. Litt hasn’t done as well with fundraising as I originally expected, but perhaps he’ll get a late push from this. In any event, in a low-profile, low-dollar year like this, the Chron endorsement is likely to be a boost, so my congratulations to Herman Litt for getting it.

At-Large Position 4

• In this seat being vacated by outgoing councilman and controller candidate Ronald Green, one candidate stands out among the field of four. He is C.O. “Brad” Bradford, an attorney, veteran Houston police officer and department chief for seven years under Mayors Bob Lanier and Lee Brown. Not surprisingly, Bradford touts his law-enforcement career as the prime reason voters should put him on City Council.

He says the city needs a long term plan to control the rising costs of public safety, which consumes the bulk of the city’s operational budget. High on his agenda is closing the dilapidated city jail and establishing a joint booking and jail facility with Harris County.

This one surprised me. The Chron endorsed Pat Lykos over Bradford in the DA race last year, saying that Bradford’s “under-aggressive responses” to the HPD Crime Lab scandal “weakened his leadership credentials”. They were also scathingly critical of Bradford earlier in the year for his role in the K-Mart Kiddie Roundup after a settlement was reached in the last of the lawsuits. Add that to Bradford’s campaign finance report issues, and, well, I just didn’t expect them to endorse him. I guess you never know.

Meanwhile, the Chron also disposes of the last of the Constitutional amendments on the ballot by endorsing Prop 10, which would extend the term of office for the governing boards of Emergency Services Districts from two years to four.

Extending the terms is recommended for two reasons: cost and efficiency. Under the current system, in which members serve staggered, two-year terms, elections must be held annually. This is a pointless expense, considering the typically light turnout and, more importantly, the urgent need for longer terms, as Proposition 10 would provide.

Four-year terms are preferable because governing-board members need a threshold of knowledge about the areas of service covered by the ESDs. This is more likely to be achieved with a four-year term than a two-year term. The many ESDs around the state whose boards are appointed would be unaffected by this proposed change.

So it’s unanimous, the Chron says to vote Yes for all eleven props. I’m still not sure about some of the others, but this one seems reasonable enough to me.

At Large action

We’ve certainly got a fascinating Mayor’s race going on this year, with three viable candidates that can all plausibly claim a path to victory, but it seems to me that there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening in the At Large races as well. Marc Campos writes about a development that could affect one of them.

Yesterday, Commentary’s shop sent out an email announcing the supporters for Rick Rodriguez, candidate for H-Town City Council, At Large, Position 1. We will be helping him out this election season. Rodriguez is being taken very seriously. One opposing campaign asked him to consider running in At-Large, Position 4 race – no thanks. Another major interest group asked Rodriguez to run in At-Large, Position 5 – no thanks again. It is pretty obvious to Commentary that local political players know that Rodriguez has a strong base and is a force to deal with. Stay tuned!

Stace made notes of this as well. The email Campos’ shop sent included State Sen. Mario Gallegos, who I’m told made numerous calls on Rodriguez’s behalf, State Rep. and former City Council Member Carol Alvarado, and current City Council Members Ed Gonzalez and James Rodriguez, as supporters. And according to David Ortez, who attended Gene Locke’s event at Doneraki’s on Tuesday, at which Locke announced the endorsement of Gallegos, Alvarado, and several other local Latino leaders, Locke has “informally endorsed” Rodriguez as well. I wish I’d seen that before I conducted my interview with Rodriguez, who was as non-committal about his preferred candidate for Mayor as just about everyone else has been, but oh well. That’s an impressive amount of support for Rodriguez, and established him as someone to watch in a race that already has several strong candidates.

Having said that, Rodriguez still has to establish himself. He finished fourth in the District H special election, with 9.5% of the vote. He entered this race late, and reported essentially no money raised as of July 15. He has not won any endorsements yet; the Tejano Dems went with Herman Litt. All this backing puts Rodriguez on the map, and may position him to get into a runoff, but winning it would be another matter; ask Joe Trevino about that. Let’s not forget, Steve Costello raised a ton of money in the first six months, and has won several endorsements; he announced the support of the Houston Contractors Association and the Houston Apartment Association Better Government Fund today. Herman Litt starts out as a fave among many Dems for all the work he did on things like the Johnson-Rayburn-Richards dinner last year, and he came out of the gate with a lot of endorsements from establishment Dems. Karen Derr has been running longer than anyone in this race, and has raised a pretty respectable amount, though she didn’t have much cash on hand as of July 15. She has won some group endorsements as well. Lonnie Allsbrooks trails in all of these categories, but I sure see a lot of his signs in yards around where I live. Point being, this is a crowded field, and everyone in it has a base.

So I can understand the reasons why there might have been suggestions to Rodriguez that he consider another race. I’m going to guess that one reason why he might prefer At Large #1 to #s 4 or 5 is that he might not want to wind up in a runoff against an African-American candidate when there’s a strong likelihood Gene Locke will also be in a runoff for Mayor. On the other hand, a lot of the votes in this year’s runoff are likely to come from Districts A and G, and while Locke has certainly spent time courting Republican support, it’s not at all clear to me that those folks would go on to vote for C.O. Bradford and/or Jolanda Jones as well.

And that brings me to the other At Large races. Melissa Noriega in #3 is uncontested so far, and will likely get nothing more than token opposition. Pretty much everyone likes her, and nobody likes running against an incumbent, especially one with good fundraising numbers. Sue Lovell in #2 has three opponents, first-timer Roslyn Shorter plus perennials Andrew Burks and Griff Griffin. Unlike 2007, when Lovell spent a lot of her time helping Wanda Adams, James Rodriguez, and Jolanda Jones get elected and wound up in a surprisingly close race against the do-nothing Griff, Lovell is taking her re-election very seriously this time. She’s raising money like never before. I see no reason why she won’t win easily, but I daresay she won’t take anything for granted.

At Large #4 hasn’t changed from the beginning. Bradford and Noel Freeman are fairly evenly matched. Both have won some endorsements. Neither has raised a ton of money. Bradford has more name recognition, but that’s not necessarily a positive for him. I understand the logic that would go into gaming out various runoff scenarios, as described above, but I still don’t quite understand why At Large #1 has five candidates and this race has (for all intents and purposes) two. And I say that as someone who likes both of these gentlemen.

And finally, there’s At Large #5. A month or two ago, I’d have expected Jolanda Jones to cruise to re-election. Carlos Obando, whom I interviewed recently, is a nice guy and I thought he had some good things to say, but he has no money and no obvious backing, and it’s just hard to knock off an incumbent in our system; it’s only happened once since we adopted term limits. Now Jones has two more opponents, and I daresay a larger number of people who would prefer to vote for someone else, but I don’t see any of that translating into support for any one person yet. All three of her opponents have fared poorly in previous elections – Obando lost a GOP primary for HD134 last year, Davetta Daniels lost by a 2-1 margin for HISD Trustee in 2007, and the less said about Jack Christie’s abortive attempt to win this same At Large #5 seat in 2007, the better. I can envision there being enough of a not-Jolanda vote to force a runoff, and I can envision the challenger coming out on top in that scenario, but until one of these folks shows me something, like winning an endorsement that Jones has lost or getting some establishment support on his or her side, I think the smart money stays on the incumbent. Again, while I understand the reasons for running in At Large #1, I can’t help but think there’s an opening here for someone.

Interview with Herman Litt

Herman LittMy next interview subject is Herman Litt, who is running for At Large #1. Litt is a rehabilitation counselor and hospital administrator who was elected to the HCC Board of Trustees in 1999 and served for awhile as its Chair. He ran for the District C seat in 2005 and finished fourth in the field of seven, but less than four points behind eventual winner and first-place finisher Anne Clutterbuck. Litt is a resident of Meyerland.

Download the MP3 file.

PREVIOUSLY:

Karen Derr, At Large #1
Brad Bradford, At Large #4
Stephen Costello, At Large #1
Lane Lewis, District A
Lonnie Allsbrooks, At Large #1
Noel Freeman, At Large #4
Brenda Stardig, District A
Oliver Pennington, District G
Amy Peck, District A

Endorsement watch: HGLBT Political Caucus on Controller and Council races

From Wednesday night’s meeting of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus:

The Houston Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgendered Political Caucus met on Wednesday evening to endorse candidates in the 2009 Houston municipal elections as well as HISD Board of Trustee elections.

Those candidates screened and then endorsed by majority vote of the membership assembled are:

  • Ronald Green Houston City Controller
  • Lane Lewis Houston City Council District A
  • Anne Clutterbuck Houston City Council District C
  • Wanda Adams Houston City Council District D
  • Michael Laster Houston City Council District F
  • Ed Gonzales Houston City Council District H
  • James Rodriguez Houston City Council District I
  • Herman Litt Council At Large, Position 1
  • Sue Lovell Council At Large Position 2
  • Melissa Noriega Council At Large Position 3
  • Noel Freeman Council At Large Position 4
  • Jolanda “JO” Jones Council At Large Position 5
  • Alma L. Lara HISD Trustee, District I

Previously endorsed for the Office of Mayor is the Honorable Annise Parker

No endorsements were given in Districts B, E, and G. I was there for some of this, though I was outside with the candidates and campaign managers while most of the debate took place. I’m told it was a fairly close vote for At Large #1, as Karen Derr had a decent amount of support. I did step inside for the debate over At Large #5. Carlos Obando had some supporters who spoke on his behalf, but Council Member Jolanda Jones had many more, and in the end she won the endorsement handily.

I have reprinted several press releases from candidates who received the HGLBTPC endorsement beneath the fold. Click on to see them.

UPDATE: Added one more press release.

(more…)

The Controller’s race

The Chron writes about fundraising in the race to replace Annise Parker as Houston City Controller.

The three major candidates vying to replace Controller Annise Parker, who is term-limited and angling to become the city’s next mayor, raised more than $400,000 in the first six months of the year. That far exceeds what City Council Members Pam Holm, Ronald Green and M.J. Khan raised during the same time period in previous campaigns.

“This is significant, and is much higher than normal for the controller’s race,” said Nancy Sims, a Houston political analyst and former campaign consultant. “They need to raise and spend some money to extend out and make their voices heard in the clutter out there.”

Actually, I don’t think it’s all that unusual. I say that from looking at the July 15 finance reports from 2003, the last time we had an open-seat Controller’s race. At that time, Bruce Tatro reported raising $132K, with $43,500 on hand. Annise Parker did better than that, raking in $212K, with $117K on hand. Mark Lee, who was not an officeholder of any kind, reported hauling in $100K. And Gabe Vasquez took in $133K, though he was still claiming to be running for re-election in District H as of July. That’s $444K raised by the three leading declared candidates, which actually exceeds the $428K that Holm, Khan, and Green took in. The main difference is that this year, the top three candidates have more cash on hand – $734K now versus a bit more than $200K then; Lee’s statement listed $35K in expenditures but for some reason omitted cash on hand, so I’m just guessing.

One other thing that struck me for the first time as I was putting this together: In the 2003 Controller’s race, you had a Democratic At Large Council member who ultimately prevailed over two Republican district members (Vasquez switched parties in early 2003). Of course, Parker did have more money than her opponents, and a higher profile then than Ronald Green has now. In terms of campaign narrative, Pam Holm is in the lead. I suspect that ultimately won’t mean much, but I do think there will be more interest than usual in the 30-day-out finance reports for this race.

Finally, on a side note, there are still a ton of July 15 reports not yet in the system for this year. Herman Litt’s report is now up – he had raised less than $5K as of the deadline, but he didn’t have a fundraiser till after then, and the one he had was very well attended, so expect him to post good numbers next time. I found a report for perennial candidate Andrew Burks, who is running for At Large #2, as well.

Rick Rodriguez to announce for At Large #1

I’d heard rumors to this effect, and now it’s official: Former District H candidate Rick Rodriguez is joining the race for At Large #1 in November. From the email announcement:

Rick Rodriguez to launch campaign for Houston City Council At-Large, Position 1.

Richard “Rick” Rodriguez is a native Houstonian and a 23-year veteran of the Houston Police Department. He is a product of public schools, attending the Houston Independent School District’s DeZavala Elementary, Edison Jr. High and Austin High School.

For 11 years, he was assigned to the Gulfton Police Storefront where he worked on the front lines in community-oriented policing. In addition to regularly riding bicycle patrol in this neighborhood, he served as the primary liaison officer to many businesses, civics, schools and church organizations. He is currently the president of the Houston Police Organization of Spanish Speaking Officers, a title held since 2007.

“I am running to be the next Council Member for At-Large Position 1 to continue my career in public service in a capacity that will allow me to directly serve all our communities. I look forward to crafting a detailed plan of action in partnership with the leaders of our city.”

He will formally launch his campaign for City Council At-Large, Position 1 on July 2, 2009 at Casa Grande Restaurant located at 3401 N. Main at 6:00 PM.

Rodriguez joins a field that includes Herman Litt, Lonnie Allsbrooks, Steve Costello, and fellow former District H candidate Karen Derr. I presume he’ll update his website shortly.

Another contender for At Large #1

The following press release hit my Inbox today:

Lonnie Allsbrooks announced his intent to become candidate for At-Large Position 1 for the City of Houston.

Lonnie Allsbrooks, a successful small business owner from the Heights, has decided to run for the City of Houston At large Position 1. As a resident of Houston for the past 38 years, Lonnie Allsbrooks has come to value and appreciate this community, but has realized there is the potential for growth and change.

Lonnie stated, “The reason I am running for this position is to give the people of Houston a representative that is fair, honest, and genuinely willing to take the time to listen to the needs of the citizens of this community. I am that person.”

Lonnie Allsbrooks currently resides in the Heights where he owns and operates his small business, Beer Island. He is also in the process of opening a small café in the Heights called The Trail Mix. After the encouragement and support from other small business owners, Lonnie is excited about his decision to run for city council and the possibility of making a difference in the Houston community.

Beer Island, for those not familiar with it, is on the southeast corner of Studewood and White Oak, catty-corner from Fitzgerald’s. I attended a meeting of the Woodland Heights Civic Association a couple of years back after Beer Island and its across-Studewood neighbor the Sixth Street Bar and Grill opened at which the topic of discussion was the loud live music being played at those locations. I live about six blocks away, and there was one night I recall where I could sing along with the band from my front porch. The meeting was a bit contentious, but in the end everything appears to have been worked out – at least, I’m not aware of any current complaints, and I’ve not heard any more music from either of those location. That’s all I know about Lonnie Allsbrooks, who joins a field that includes Herman Litt, Steve Costello, and fellow Heights resident Karen Derr.

Litt announces for At Large #1

Former HCC Trustee Herman Litt has been a potential candidate for City Council this year for some time. Last night, in an email to Carl Whitmarsh’s list, he made his official announcement:

I am announcing my decision to run for City Council At-Large Position 1 and hope that you will help let everyone know of my plans.

I am a native Houstonian with a masters degree in psychology and rehabilitation counseling. My career has included developing and managing programs for the physically disabled, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health experiences in business development and hospital based administration. I directed the efforts of business and industry and other area agencies in the Job Fair for the Handicapped.

Elected to the Houston Community College Board in 1999, I was fortunate to serve for six years and was elected Chairman of the Board in 2004. Achievements included economic and community development projects, the first Early College/High School collaboration with the Houston Independent School District, adopting LEED’s standards for new building projects, and reaching out to underserved communities to increase enrollment, and calling for a performance audit by the State Comptroller that identified about $31 million in projected saving for tax payers over a five year period.

More recently I have served several years as a board member & president of Southwest Houston 2000, a coalition of civic groups and community organizations working and dedicated to improving the quality of life through economic development, crime prevention, and safety and security in the Fondren Southwest area of Houston.

For the past two years I have chaired the annual Johnson-Rayburn-Richards Dinner, helping raise funds for the Democratic Party and helping elect our Democratic office holders in the county elections. Last year’s Dinner was the most successful ever, having the highest attendance in history (1,110).

I believe there are some key issues which are very important to the city of Houston and will be an integral part of my campaign. Crime Prevention and safe neighborhoods are a must if we are to progress as a city and ensure that our residents are safe.

Economic development & jobs is another issue which has become even more significant as we face our current economic crisis. We must encourage increased development in the city which will lead to more badly needed revenue for the city budget and increase job opportunities for our residents.

I am a proponent of a regional approach to government, where the city, county and other government entities come together to collaborate on funding solutions to problems such as crime, mobility, economic development, etc. I have always been committed to other quality of life issues such as clean air and beautification of our city.

Houston is one of the great cities of America. I want to serve on City Council to help find ways to make it even better, a place where all of its residents will be able to take part in the vast array of opportunities that exist here.

Litt joins Karen Derr and Steve Costello in seeking this seat. He last ran for District C in 2005, finishing just out of the money. Litt’s email included a fair number of people who will be supporting him, so I think he’ll be a strong contender for this seat.

Derr to run for At Large #1

As we know, City Council hopeful Karen Derr missed the official filing deadline for the District H special election, and thus will not be on the ballot on May 9. Anyone who has driven through the Heights lately has observed that she had quite a few visible supporters, and from what I know many of them had been urging her to try a write-in candidacy. According to a press release dated March 9 on her website (which I didn’t get but others clearly did), she has decided to run for At Large #1 in November instead. From the release:

After much encouragement from supporters of the Karen Derr Campaign for City Council District H., Karen Derr has decided to continue her dream as a public servant to the City of Houston by running for a vacant At-Large position. Many of her supporters have asked that she continue to run and be a voice at the City Council table for all of Houston neighborhoods.

Karen Derr stated, “I have been working hard for years visiting civic clubs, organizations, and most importantly-talking with everyday people about the issues that concern them. I believe that a Council Member should truly represent all people and serve with responsive government. As your next At-Large Councilmember, I am ready and committed to improve our quality of life, provide efficient quality constituent services and fight crime in our streets.”

There’s now a Facebook group for her redirected campaign and her campaign website has been updated. I think this is a better choice than the write-in route, though that could have raised the interesting question of whether or not a write-in candidate who makes it to a runoff gets listed on the ballot for the runoff; I haven’t combed through the Elections code sufficiently to try to find an answer to that. I expect she’ll have to answer questions about how she managed to miss the filing deadline for the May election, probably many times. I don’t know how big a deal that will be to voters. I do know that the filing deadline for the November election is Wednesday, September 3 at 5 PM – assuming there are no special elections to be held in November, that date will be true for everyone – and that I recommend all candidates take care of that piece of business well in advance of the deadline, just in case. (Houston Politics says “mid to late August, according to the City Secretary’s office”; I’m not sure where they’re getting that from, but the point about filing early remains. Checking with them to be sure is also a good idea.) There are two other potential candidates of which I’m aware for At Large #1, former HCC Trustee and 2005 candidate for District C Herman Litt, and Steve Costello, who is the head of the Memorial Park Conservancy. I’m sure there will be more when all is said and done.

Another City Council lineup update

Time for our periodic check on who’s running for what this fall. The Memorial Examiner gets us started.

Five confirmed candidates are vying to replace Lawrence in District A.

Jeff Downing, Amy Peck, Bob Schellkopf, Brenda Stardig and Alex Wathen are campaign-ready, having filed campaign treasurer forms.

Not running in District A is P.M. Clinton, 58, a private investigator and longtime Spring Branch resident.

Clinton said Tuesday that he’s been asked to run, but feels he can do more by staying involved with a reactivated Spring Branch Revitalization Association.

In District G, Oliver Pennington and Mills Worsham have filed treasurer papers and are campaigning.

The story has basic bio information on all of them. Peck is the new name to me – she’s a district liaison for state Sen. Dan Patrick, and worked for Sen. Jon Lindsay before him. She’s also 24, which makes her a heck of a lot more focused and accomplished than I was at that age. Not surprisingly for someone with that resume, she lists cost reduction as her top priority.

I can add two names to this group: Lane Lewis for A, and Dexter Handy for G. Lewis, according to an email from Carl Whitmarsh, who broke the news of Lewis’ candidacy a few days ago, is the former Chair of the Houston Gay Lesbian BiSexual Transgendered Political Caucus, Democratic Chair and Election Judge in Oak Forest, and Professor of Government and Political Science at San Jacinto College where he will soon be teaching supervisor of his department. Handy ran for County Commissioner in Precinct 3 against Steve Radack last year. I’ve confirmed his candidacy via email. I interviewed Handy twice last year, once for the primary and once for the general. He’s a real good guy, and I’m glad to see him in the race.

Elsewhere, I’ve now heard of two candidates for At Large #1: former HCC Trustee and 2005 candidate for District C Herman Litt, and Steve Costello, who is the head of the Memorial Park Conservancy. There are two other entrants for At Large #4 as well, Jay Green and Sandy Dahlke, about whom I know nothing.

Finally, while there were no new entrants into the Mayor’s race that I know of, there was some action as current City Council member Peter Brown kicked off his campaign, and City Controller Annise Parker called on Governor Perry to make sure Houston got its fair share of the stimulus money. What are you hearing these days?