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Jerome Moore

Sheriff primary runoff overview

Unless you live in HD139, this is the most consequential runoff on the Democratic ballot.

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez

[Ed] Gonzalez has drawn heavy support from the Democratic establishment, including former Mayor Annise Parker, state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and the Harris County chapter of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats. [Jerome] Moore’s supporters include the Houston COGIC political action committee, which supports candidates who share its values.

Both Gonzalez and Moore have called for greater transparency at the sheriff’s office and pledged to personally, regularly, inspect the department’s jail, which has come under repeated scrutiny in recent months. A Houston Chronicle investigation of the jail found extensive problems ranging from patterns of use of force by guards to poor medical care for inmates.

Gonzalez, 47, touts his 15 years as a Houston police officer and his work on the Houston City Council, where he chaired the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

“I’m think I’m uniquely qualified to be the next sheriff,” Gonzalez said. “I’m the only one with combined law enforcement experience … and I have the proven leadership skills.”

Gonzalez has argued for more oversight in the jail as well as broader education and training programs for inmates to help lower the number of repeat offenders.

[…]

Moore, 42, who worked as a deputy for the Harris County Precinct 5 Constable’s Office for 16 years and previously for the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, said he wants to take “more than 600 crooks” off the streets and touts the supervisory experience he gained as a lieutenant at Precinct 5.

Like Gonzalez, he called management of the county jail as a top priority for the next sheriff, as well as taking a more community focused approach to policing.

“Too many people are dying in that jail,” he said, citing the recent case of a man beaten to death while in jail on a minor theft charge. “We’ve got to do better in the jail … Right now, we don’t have accountability in that jail.”

My interview with Ed Gonzalez is here and with Jerome Moore is here. To the extent that endorsements affect one’s decision about whom to support in a race, I would point out the COGIC PAC’s endorsements from the 2015 elections. Whether one believes that this is going to be a great year for Democrats in Harris County or another Presidential cycle where the base vote is evenly split and the quality of individual candidates is the difference-maker, the winner of this runoff has an excellent chance to be the next Sheriff. Let’s make a good choice.

Roundup of runoff candidate interviews and Q&As

vote-button

As we know, early voting for the primary runoffs begins in a week. I did my usual series of interviews and judicial Q&As for the primary, but there were a few candidates I didn’t get to for one reason or another. So, to refresh everyone’s memory and to give another chance to get acquainted with who will be on the Democratic runoff ballot, here are links to all those interviews and Q&As for your convenience. Remember that turnout in this election is likely to be quite low, so your vote really matters.

SBOE 6

Dakota Carter
Jasmine Jenkins

HD27

Rep. Ron Reynolds
Angelique Brtholomew

(Note: Rep. Reynolds declined a request for an interview.)

HD139

Kimberly Willis
Jarvis Johnson

District Judge, 11th Judicial District

Kristen Hawkins
Rabeea Collier

District Judge, 61st Judicial District

Julie Countiss
Fredericka Phillips

District Judge, 215th Judicial District

Judge Elaine Palmer
JoAnn Storey

Sheriff

Ed Gonzalez
Jerome Moore

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Place 1

Eric William Carter
Tanya Makany-Rivera

Interview with Jerome Moore

Jerome Moore

Jerome Moore

As we know, everyone is focusing on the Presidential race, but here in Harris County there are some races of great local importance. You can order them however you like, but the Sheriff’s race is certainly up there. I had the opportunity to talk to two of the original four candidates in this race for March, and now I’ve caught up with the one of the other two that made it to the runoff. Jerome Moore is a longtime veteran of law enforcement, starting out in the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s office before moving to the Constable’s office in Precinct 5. He has worked in Patrol and Property & Evidence and is currently a Lieutenant who supervises the Motorcycle, Warrants and Property & Evidence Divisions. Here’s what we talked about:

You can see all of my interviews as well as finance reports and other information on candidates from the 2016 Democratic primary on my 2016 Election page.

Runoff watch: Sheriff

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez

This one is straightforward. Democrats Ed Gonzalez and Jerome Moore will square off for the right to go against incumbent Sheriff Ron Hickman this November. Gonzalez led the way with 43.5%, while Moore tallied 29.8%. Gonzalez was the consensus establishment candidate – he swept all the group endorsements, while collecting the Chronicle recommendation as well. As a three-term Council member, he’s well known to officeholders, groups, and many of the kinds of voters who are likely to turn out in May. Moore is a career law enforcement officer who didn’t raise much money and who is I believe making his first run for office. He may benefit if turnout in the runoff is higher.

My interview with Ed Gonzalez is here. I didn’t reach out to Jerome Moore, who didn’t have a web presence at the time I was trying to set up interview appointments in the Sheriff’s race. I may try again for the runoff if I have the time and he has the interest. Gonzalez has all the factors in his favor to make him the frontrunner in this race, but as always in a low-profile setting one cannot take anything for granted. He’s fairly well known among party faithful, which is much more important in a runoff than in a March primary, but as someone whose electoral experience is representing a Council district with modest voter participation, that only takes one so far. Remember what I said about how Adrian Garcia could make people who might be mad at him for challenging Gene Green get over it? Helping his buddy Ed Gonzalez – visibly helping his buddy across the finish line in this runoff would be a fine start.

2016 primaries: Harris County

Though this will be the first entry published in the morning, it was the last one I wrote last night, and I’m super tired. So, I’m going to make this brief.

Harris County Dem resultsHarris County GOP results

Democratic races of interest, with about 86% of precincts reporting

District Attorney: Kim Ogg with 51%, so no runoff needed.

Sheriff: Ed Gonzalez (43%) and Jerome Moore (30%) in the runoff.

Tax Assessor: Ann Harris Bennett (61%) gets another crack at it.

Judicial races: Some close, some blowouts, some runoffs. Jim Sharp will not be on the ballot, as Candance White won easily, while the one contested district court race that featured an incumbent will go to overtime. Elaine Palmer in the 215th will face JoAnn Storey, after drawing 43% of the vote to Storey’s 28%. Those who are still smarting from Palmer’s unlovely ouster of Steve Kirkland in 2012 will get their chance to exact revenge on May 24.

Turnout: For some reason, Dem results were reporting a lot more slowly than GOP results. As of midnight, nearly 150 precincts were still out. At that time, Dem turnout had topped 200,000, so the final number is likely to be in the 210,000 to 220,000 range. That’s well short of 2008, of course, but well ahead of projections, and nobody could call it lackluster or disappointing. As was the case in 2008, some 60% of the vote came on Election Day. I think the lesson to draw here is that when there is a real Presidential race, fewer people vote early than you’d normally expect.

Republican races of interest, with 92% of precincts reporting

Sheriff: Ron Hickman, with 72%.

Tax Assessor: Mike Sullivan, with 83%. Kudos for not being that stupid, y’all.

County Attorney: Jim Leitner, with 53%.

Strange (to me) result of the night: GOP Chair Paul Simpson was forced to a runoff, against someone named Rick Ramos. Both had about 39% of the vote. What’s up with that?

Turnout: With 67 precincts to go, just over 300,000 total votes. Interestingly, that was right on Stan Stanart’s initial, exuberant projection. He nailed the GOP side, he just woefully underestimated the Dems.

Bedtime for me. I’m sure there will be plenty more to say in the coming days. What are your reactions?

Chron overview of the Sheriff races

The candidate who isn’t there nonetheless plays a central role.

Appointed incumbent Ron Hickman faces two repeat challengers in the GOP primary, while four others, including former Houston City Councilman Ed Gonzalez battle for the Democratic nomination.

The candidates square off in an election year when criminal justice issues are on the forefront of the public consciousness, following a year and a half of protests across the country over how police use lethal force during interactions with the public, particularly involving minorities.

“There’s been a lot more scrutiny as there’s been more reporting on issues from brutality or misconduct amid patrol, to misconduct among jail guards, to sanitary issues in the jail,” said Jay Jenkinsof the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. “For the first time in a long time, it feels like the general public is realizing what responsibilities come with that office, and how sheriff has the ability to help or hurt on those issues.”

Former Sheriff Adrian Garcia beat out Tommy Thomas eight years ago on the heels of a string of headlines about numerous inmate deaths, a high-profile civil rights lawsuit and thousands of deleted emails under a Thomas policy that violated state law. He resigned the post last May when he ran unsuccessfully for mayor; Commissioners Court appointed Hickman to finish Garcia’s term, which ends Dec. 31.

The landscape is different today, but the department again has come under scrutiny over inmate deaths and allegations of abuse, poor medical care and other problems in the jail dating back to 2009.

Hickman’s supporters argue that the majority of those issues occurred under Garcia’s regime, and that state inspectors gave the facility high marks when they inspected it last December.

It’s not a big surprise that the primaries for Sheriff are in their own way about Adrian Garcia. Jeff Stauber on the Democratic side is a pretty strong critic of Garcia’s term in office, as you can hear in the interview I did with him. His belief is that the HCSO needs someone with experience in the office as the person in charge, a charge that conveniently works against both Ed Gonzalez and Ron Hickman. As for Hickman, invoking Garcia now is basically a defensive move, but if he’s still doing it in the fall it will surely be as an offensive maneuver. As he will have been on the job for more than a year by then there’s no guarantee that the voters will accept that, but there’s no reason why they couldn’t. I suspect that once we get past March, Hickman will prefer to talk about the things he has done rather than things his predecessor did, but I’m sure the latter won’t be too far beneath the surface, if it’s beneath it at all.

Endorsement watch: Sheriffs

It’s the time of the season again.

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez

In Ed Gonzalez, Democratic Party primary voters have a candidate with broad experience in law enforcement and governance. Gonzalez’s resume includes three terms as councilman of District H, and 18 years in the Houston Police Department, including time spent as a homicide investigator and a hostage negotiator.

Gonzalez, 46, has managerial experience, as well. He was a sergeant at HPD before retiring from the force and served as mayor pro tem on City Council as well as chairing council’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Division.

“We need a reformer. We need change,” Gonzalez told the editorial board. In his first week in office, Gonzalez said he would immediately assess the number of open cases, share crime analysis information and work with constable offices, regional authorities and crime prevention groups like Crime Stoppers of Houston to improve crime clearance statistics.

Gonzalez, a native Houstonian, has an academic background in criminology: a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from University of Houston-Downtown and a master of liberal arts degree from University of St. Thomas. As a council member he played a role in the creation of the Houston Center for Sobriety, a place for Houston police officers to drop off people whose only offense is public intoxication. He also pledged to be aggressive about creating more diversion programs for additional segments of the population.

Both of Gonzalez’s opponents in the Democratic primary respectively are waging their first race for public office. Jerome Moore, 42, has more than 17 years experience in law enforcement, and Jeff Stauber, 52, has more than 30 years. But Gonzalez brings to bear the experience in law enforcement and governance needed to keep the office headed in the right direction. He has our nod for the Democratic primary.

Various Democratic groups are starting to do their screenings, and I’ve added the endorsements that I’ve seen to the 2016 Election page. I’m still working on adding January finance reports, so be patient. The Chron also endorsed incumbent Sheriff Ron Hickman for the GOP primary. They’ve got a lot of races to get through between now and the start of early voting on February 16. I expect the editorial page will be busy.