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Leila Feldman

Endorsement watch: HCC Trustee

The Chron makes its recommendations in the HCC Trustee races, though they manage to get the district wrong in one of them.

We recommend the following candidates for election to the nine-member HCC board:

District 1: This northside district, redrawn to include the impoverished Gulfton neighborhood in southwest Houston, is in sore need of a change in representation at HCC. Our choice to return effective leadership to the District 1 seat is Zeph Capo A first-generation college graduate, Capo knows firsthand the importance of HCC as a pathway to meaningful work, especially for those many coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. He would be a strong advocate for this important constituency.

District 2: Incumbent Bruce Austin, the HCC board’s longest serving member, has earned another six-year term to represent this northeast Houston district. Austin’s is a moderating voice informed by deep institutional knowledge and a clear recognition of the need to work with K-12 to improve the quality of HCC entrants.

District 3: To finish the remaining two years of an unexpired term, we recommend Adriana Tamez. The Denver Harbor native combines intimate familiarity with the southeast Houston district and strong credentials as an education professional. We believe her presence would be a particular help in changing the board tone and direction.

District 7: Incumbent Neeta Sane would bring energy, ideas and integrity to a second term representing a rapidly growing service area in the Fort Bend communities of Alief, Stafford and Missouri City. Sane, who became a U.S. citizen in 2005, has been an HCC trustee since 2007 and has represented the area since it was annexed in 2008. A small business owner, she brings an understanding of the bottom line as well as education to the board table.

District 8: Voters in this Rice/West University area district are filling an open seat. Our choice is Robert Glaser, a lifelong Southampton resident and independent businessman. Glaser gets it. He would bring a deep understanding of the requirements of Houston area business and industry for skilled workers and recognizes the “huge role” HCC must play.

Glaser, of course, is running in District 5, which was vacated when Richard Schechter stepped down and interim Trustee Leila Feldman declined to run; Feldman has since resigned and the seat remains open pending another appointment to fill out the term. Quality control, y’all. Beyond that, I don’t have anything particular to say about the Chron’s choices, all of which are reasonable. These races are important and they get very little attention, and I’m sorry that I’ll only be interviewing candidates in District I this year, as I just don’t have the bandwidth to do more than that. Check your registration to see what district you’re in, and get to know your HCC trustee or trustee candidates.

Leila Feldman resigns as HCC Trustee

Leila Feldman was appointed by the HCC Board of Trustees in February to fill the seat that had been vacated by the resignation of Richard Schechter the month before. Feldman subsequently decided not to run for a full term this November, and has now submitted her resignation from the Board. That means that the Board is looking for a short term replacement for her.

Leila Feldman

The Board of Trustees publicly and formally invites qualified members of the public to apply to be considered for appointment to the position of HCC Trustee, District V.

The Board invites qualified members of the public to apply to be considered for appointment to the position of HCC Trustee, District V. Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and resume in Microsoft word or PDF format via email to board.services@hccs.edu.

To be qualified, the applicant must meet the following:

  • The applicant must have resided in HCC District V for at least six months and in the state of Texas for at least 12 months immediately preceding the appointment by the board.
  • The applicant must also be 18 years of age or older.
  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, not adjudged incompetent nor finally convicted of a felony without a pardon.
  • The applicant must be a registered voter in Harris County, Texas.

The process the Board will undertake to fill the vacancy for HCC Trustee, District V is as follows:

Applications may be submitted until 12:00 p.m. on Monday, September 30, 2013. Interested, qualified candidates should apply by submitting a cover letter and resume in Microsoft word or PDF format via email to board.services@hccs.edu

Because HCC Trustee, District V, is currently on the November 5, 2013 ballot for election for a full, six year term, the Trustee appointed by the Board to fill the vacancy created by Trustee Feldman’s resignation will only be eligible to serve until December 31, 2013, as the newly elected Trustee will be sworn to serve shortly thereafter.

It is anticipated that the Board will appoint a qualified candidate as HCC Trustee, District V at a Board Meeting in October 2013. Please direct any questions to the Board Services Office at 713.718.8398 or board.services@hccs.edu.

There are three candidates for this seat in November, Phil Kunetka, Robert Glaser, and Roy Cormier. I presume they can apply to be the fill-in, but my guess is the Board will lean towards someone who is willing to be a temp. If that might be you, now you know what to do about it.

Ballot order and the HCC lineup

The ballot order has been determined for the November city elections. You can click over and see them, I’ll just use this opportunity to once again say how ridiculous it is that in the year 2013 we are still drawing names out of a hat for ballot order. There’s no technical reason why our electronic voting machines cannot be made to randomize ballot order in non-partisan and primary races for each voter. Whatever advantage there may be to appearing first (or last) on the ballot, we should not let that have any effect on our elections. A technical fix would be simple, but first we’d need the Legislature to mandate it. Maybe if they spent a little less time chasing the vote fraud phantom and spent a little more time thinking about how to make elections better we could have this.

Meanwhile, HCC has announced its lineup for the fall election:

The following candidates filed an Application for a Place on the November 5, 2013 General Election Ballot:

 

District

Candidates

(Listed alphabetical last name)

Term Expiration

I

Zeph Capo

Yolanda Navarro Flores

Kevin J. Hoffman

December 31, 2013

(Expired Term)

II

Bruce A. Austin

Dave Wilson

December 31, 2013

(Expired Term)

III

Dane D. Cook

Herlinda Garcia

Adriana Tamez

December 31, 2015

(Unexpired Term)

V

Roy A. Cormier

Robert Glaser

Phil Kunetka

December 31, 2017

(Unexpired Term)

VII

Neeta Sane

Ann Williams

December 31, 2013

(Expired Term)

The big news here is that District V Trustee Leila Feldman, who had been appointed to replace Richard Schechter when he resigned, is not running for a full term. I had said that she was, based on not having heard otherwise. Of the three who are running in V, Glaser is a previous City Council candidate, and I know nothing about the other two. Neeta Sane and Bruce Austin both picked up opponents on deadline day; I presume that’s the same tiresome Dave Wilson that has inflicted himself in recent city of Houston and Democratic primary elections, but I don’t know for sure. Anyway, I’ve updated the 2013 Election page as best I can with what I can find. As always, if I’m missing something that you know about, please leave a comment or drop me a note. Thanks.

The 2013 lineup

So many candidates.

He’s baaaaaaack…

More than 60 candidates have filed to run for city of Houston elective office this fall, many of them rushing in before the 5 p.m. Monday deadline.

[…]

Atop the ballot, [Mayor Annise] Parker is challenged by wealthy attorney Ben Hall, conservative Eric Dick, repeat Green Party candidate Don Cook, and six others. City Controller Ron Green is opposed by accountant Bill Frazer.

The ballot’s most crowded council race, with 11 contenders, will be for District D, the south Houston seat held by term-limited Wanda Adams, who has filed to run for a seat on the Houston ISD board.

Looking to succeed Adams are several candidates who have sought the seat or other council posts before, including Dwight Boykins, Larry McKinzie, Lana Edwards and Keith Caldwell. First-time contenders include Anthony Robinson, a businessman and lawyer who was exonerated after serving 10 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, and Houston Housing Authority vice-chair Assata-Nicole Richards, who briefly was homeless and went on to earn a doctorate in sociology.

[…]

Other notable filings include Issa Dadoush, who formerly ran the facilities department for the city, then HISD. He will challenge incumbent Councilman C.O. Bradford. Perennial candidate Michael “Griff” Griffin – who said his 10th failed bid for City Council in 2011 would be his last – also filed, against At-Large 1 incumbent Councilman Stephen Costello.

So we will have Griff to kick around again. Whoop-de-doo. No, I will not be interviewing him. My to-do list is a little longer now, but it doesn’t include Griff. Life is too short.

I’m still working on my 2013 Election page, since there are some names that remain unknown to me. I’ll wait and see what the final list of candidates on the City Secretary page looks like before I declare the page finalized. Some races are no different – At Large #2, Districts A, C, and I. Apparently, neither Chris Carmona nor Al Edwards filed in At Large #3, leaving that field a bit smaller than I’d have expected. The Bradford/Dadoush race in At Large #4 is potentially interesting. I know of at least one more candidate in At Large #5, James “father of Noah” Horwitz. And my God, could we possibly have more Mayoral candidates?

The big non-city-race news is the retirement of HISD Trustee Larry Marshall.

Marshall, who turned 81 in June, first was elected to the board of the Houston Independent School District in 1997. He could not be reached for comment Monday.

The other four incumbents up for re-election are running, and two face opponents.

A civil lawsuit filed by a construction contractor in late 2010 put Marshall under intense scrutiny, accusing him of a bribery and kickback scheme with his political campaign treasurer to help certain construction firms land HISD contracts.

The Houston Chronicle also has reported that the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office had launched a criminal investigation tied to the lawsuit.

[…]

The candidates running for Marshall’s seat are: W. Clyde Lemon, who served on the board in the mid-1990s; City Councilwoman Wanda Adams; Anthony Madry, a former HISD assistant principal; and Coretta Mallet-Fontenot.

I need to update the District IX race on the 2013 Election page, but I have the other races right – Anna Eastman versus Hugo Mojica in I, Harvin Moore versus Anne Sung in VII, and nobody versus Mike Lunceford in V and Greg Meyers in VIII. At least these races are straightforward.

Not mentioned as far as I can tell are the HCC Trustee races. Five trustees are up for election, thanks to the two appointments. Two incumbents, Neeta Sane and Bruce Austin, have no opponents that I am aware of. Yolanda Navarro Flores, who in 2011 lost a defamation lawsuit against her colleagues, is opposed by educator Zeph Capo and civic activist Kevin Hoffman, who narrowly lost to Navarro Flores in 2007. Herlinda Garcia, a former trustee who was appointed to fill the seat vacated by State Rep. Mary Ann Perez in HCC 3, is opposed by Adriana Tamez and Dane Cook. Leila Feldman, appointed to replace Richard Schechter after he resigned, is opposed by Phil Kunetka. Among other things, this means that the tail end of my interviewing schedule will be fuller than I originally thought it would be. As I said, these are the races I’m aware of. If I’ve missed anything, let me know. Stace and Campos have more.

Midyear 2013 election update

Back in January, I took an early look at the 2013 elections in Houston. At the request of the folks at the Burnt Orange Report, who also printed my initial overview, here’s an update on the races in the city of Houston in 2013.

Mayor

Back in January, Mayor Parker had no declared opponents, though everyone expected former City Attorney Ben Hall to jump in, and there were whispers of other potential entrants. Hall made his candidacy official about two weeks after my initial report, and formally launched his campaign in March, though things have been fairly low key so far. Mayor Parker, who just kicked off her own campaign a couple of weeks ago, has been busy touting her achievements, of which there have been many in recent months, and pointing out all the glowing praise Houston is getting in the national media for its food scene, arts, employment opportunities, and affordable housing. Hall has been introducing himself to voters – he was the featured speaker at a recent event at HCDP headquarters; Mayor Parker will get her turn for that later in June – though thus far he has stuck to general themes and not presented much in the way of specific policy initiatives. He suffered some bad press a month ago when news of his frequent delinquency when paying property taxes surfaced. That subject, and the fact that Hall lived outside Houston in the tony suburb of Piney Point until last year – he was ineligible to vote in the 2009 city election – will likely come up again as the campaigns begin to engage with each other.

Two other candidates have joined the race as well. One is Green Party perennial Don Cook, who ran for an At Large Council seat in 2009 and 2011, for County Clerk in 2010, and for CD22 in 2012. The other is 2011 At Large #2 candidate Eric Dick, and you can keep the jokes to yourself, he’s way ahead of you on that. Besides his name, Dick is best known for covering the city with bandit campaign signs two years ago; the signs and the controversy that accompanied them did wonders for his name recognition and no doubt his law firm’s bottom line. It’s not clear if he intends to run a more serious campaign this time or if it’s just going to be another round of nailing things to utility poles and denying all knowledge of how they got there, but Dick’s emphasizing that he’s the “Republican” candidate in this nominally non-partisan race suggests that at least one person is thinking about the old pincer strategy.

We’ll have a better idea of where things stand when the campaign finance reports come out in six weeks. Hall has made much noise about his willingness to self-finance his campaign, but nothing says “broad-based support”, or the lack of it, than one’s list of small-dollar donors. It will also be interesting to see where the establishment goes, and if there are any defections from Parker 09 to Hall or Gene Locke 09 to Parker. Finally, on the subject of Republicans, it’s well known among insiders but not at all outside that circle that Hall has a couple of Republican operatives on his campaign payroll. I feel confident saying that fact will gain prominence after the July 15 reports begin to emerge. Until then, there’s the parody Ben Hall Twitter feed to keep those of you who are into that sort of thing amused.

City Controller

Incumbent Ronald Green, who like Mayor Parker is running for a third term, also now has an opponent, a Republican accountant by the name of Bill Frazer. Frazer now has a Facebook page for his campaign, but still no webpage that I can find. As noted before, Green has had some bad press, and he has never been a dynamic fundraiser or campaigner. He didn’t have a lot of cash on hand in January, and I don’t recall much activity there since then. He could conceivably be vulnerable to the right candidate and some bad luck. I don’t think Frazer is that candidate, and as far as luck goes all Green really needs is no more dirt to come out about him before November. Outside of open seat years, we really don’t have a history of Controller races in Houston. The office tends to get a lot less attention than Council does.

City Council At Large

I took an early look at At Large #3, the one open At Large seat, back in April, and nothing much has changed since then. It’s an interesting field, to say the least, with three candidates that have run citywide in the past, and the three that haven’t can credibly claim to have a base of support. There is no clear frontrunner, though the lack of a prominent African American candidate in the race is a factor that could ultimately affect its trajectory. I continue to believe that’s a void that will eventually be filled. Again, the campaign finance reports will bring a bit of focus to the picture, but most likely there will be not that much to see just yet. Generally speaking, the usual powers that be steer clear of these multi-candidate pileups until the runoff.

I noted before that there might be more opportunity in a head-to-head matchup against one of the two freshmen At Large Council members than in the wide open At Large #3 scramble. David Robinson, who finished fourth in the open At Large #2 race in 2011, has apparently taken that to heart and is challenging CM Andrew Burks for that seat. Burks has not particularly distinguished himself in his first term, but he is generally well liked and remains well known due to his many previous candidacies. So far, no one has emerged to take on Burks’ fellow freshman, CM Jack Christie, and the two members running for their third terms, CMs Stephen Costello and Brad Bradford, are also unopposed. Both Costello and Bradford are known to have future Mayoral ambitions, so the tea leaf readers will have some material to work with after the election. Actually, they’ll have some before it as well, since Bradford is listed as a Hall supporter, while Costello, along with CMs Ed Gonzalez and Al Hoang, are Parker supporters.

District City Council

There are only two open district Council seats thanks to the resignation of now-Harris County Tax Assessor Mike Sullivan, who was succeeded by CM Dave Martin last November. Martin will likely draw a challenger or two as the newbie on Council, but so far all of the action is elsewhere. I am aware of four candidates for the District D seat now held by CM Wanda Adams: businessman and former ReBuild Houston oversight board member Dwight Boykins, who had previously run for At Large #5 in 2003, losing to Michael Berry; Houston Housing Authority board member Assata Richards; photojournalist and businesswoman Georgia Provost; and community advocate Keith Caldwell, who ran for D in 2007 and finished fifth in the field of seven. There had been some buzz about former At Large #5 CM Jolanda Jones throwing her hat in and forcing a legal decision to clarify Houston’s term limits ordinance, but I haven’t heard anything about that in months and have no idea if it is still a possibility.

District I has proven to be the liveliest race so far, as candidates Graci Garces and Ben Mendez have already gotten into the kind of spat that one only sees in election years. Garces is the Chief of Staff to current District I member James Rodriguez, who in turn was Chief of Staff to State Rep. Carol Alvarado when she held that seat; Garces was also on Alvarado’s staff. Mendez is a businessman. They are joined in the race by community activist and Sheriff’s Department employee Robert Gallegos, and Leticia Ablaza. Ablaza is the former Chief of Staff to District A CM Helena Brown, who resigned from that position along with Deputy Chief of Staff RW Bray after less than five months on the job, and she challenged CM Rodriguez in 2011, finishing with 35% of the vote. To say the least, her presence in this race makes it one to watch.

Speaking of CM Helena Brown, the field for District A is big enough to make you think it was an open seat as well. In addition to the incumbent, candidates include former CM Brenda Stardig, who assured me on the phone a few weeks ago that she’s going to run a much more organized and focused campaign than she did in 2011 when Brown ousted her; Amy Peck, the District Director for Sen. Dan Patrick who finished third in District A in 2009; and Mike Knox, who has been an HPD officer, Board Member of the Houston Police Patrolmen’s Union, and Director of Community Service for the Spring Branch Management District. All three have good establishment Republican credentials, and I suspect the strategy for all three is to get into a runoff with Brown and hope to consolidate enough support against her to win. As always, the July finance report will tell an interesting tale, and this is one time where I think the usual suspects will not be on the sidelines early but will already be backing one horse or another.

HISD and HCC

There is one update to report on HISD races. District I Board Member and current Board President Anna Eastman is now opposed by community activist Hugo Mojica, who ran in the special election for City Council District H in May 2009 to succeed Sheriff Adrian Garcia and finished eighth in the field of nine. District I is my district, and while I think Hugo is a perfectly nice person, I think Anna Eastman is an outstanding Trustee, and I’ll be voting for her in the fall. There are no other active races I’m aware of, but the impending takeover of North Forest ISD will necessitate a redraw of Trustee districts that could force a special election in Districts II and VIII, where Rhonda Skillern-Jones and Juliet Stipeche now serve. Neither would be on the ballot in 2013 otherwise. I don’t know what all of the ramifications of this will be, but that’s a possibility to watch out for. Finally, while no one has yet announced a campaign against him, District IX Trustee Larry Marshall continues to provide ammunition for whoever does take the plunge.

Lastly, there are two developments in HCC. There is now a second special election on the ballot, as former Board President Richard Schechter stepped down in January after successfully leading the push for HCC’s bond referendum in November. The board appointed attorney and former General Counsel for HCC Leila Feldman to succeed Schechter. Feldman is also the daughter-in-law of Houston City Attorney David Feldman and is married to Cris Feldman, whom aficionados of all things Tom DeLay will recognize as a key player in bringing about his demise. In any event, she will be on the ballot in November along with appointee Herlinda Garcia, who succeeded State Rep. Mary Perez, and incumbents Bruce Austin, Neeta Sane, and Yolanda Navarro Flores. In the second development, Navarro has drawn two opponents, Zeph Capo, the vice-president and legislative director for the Houston Federation of Teachers, and community and Democratic activist Kevin Hoffman, who lost to Navarro Flores in 2007. HCC Trustee races never get much attention, but this one will be as high profile as these races get.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll be taking a close look at the finance reports when they come out.

UPDATE: Whenever I write one of these posts, I’m going by what I’ve seen and heard. Until the July finance reports come out, there’s no easy way to compile a list of candidate names, unless you drop in on the City Secretary and ask to see the dead tree document of people who have filed designation of campaign treasurer forms. As such, I’m going to miss some people, and I inevitably hear about them after I publish.

Three such names have come to my attention since I posted this. One is former State Rep. Al Edwards, who apparently is actively campaigning for At Large #3. The second is Clyde Lemon, who according to Burt Levine is going to run against HISD Trustee Larry Marshall. Neither has a webpage or a campaign Facebook page that I can find, and Google told me nothing about their efforts, so make of that what you will.

The third candidate I’ve heard of since posting is Ron Hale, who is running in the increasingly large District A field. Hale left a bizarre comment on Levine’s Facebook page, saying that I’m “another blogger trying to keep [his] name out of the article as if it hurts my campaign” and “one person in the district A race is a contributor to off the cuff (sic)”. I have no idea what he’s talking about – I am of course the only “contributor” to Off the Kuff – but whatever. Ron Hale is also running for District A, and now you know.

Schechter’s seat filled

The HCC Board of Trustees has named a replacement for the outgoing Richard Schechter.

Houston Community College trustees unanimously agreed Thursday to appoint attorney Leila Feldman to fill a recently vacated seat on the school board.

Feldman served as associate general counsel for HCC from March 2009 to June 2010 and is now the general counsel for the Humble school district.

She replaces Richard Schechter, who resigned in January, not citing a specific reason. The trustee district includes Bellaire, River Oaks, West University Place and Sharpstown. Feldman will serve until an election in November.

Feldman wrote in her application that her focus would be on increasing retention and graduation rates. She also would liken to strengthen partnerships between the community college system and school districts through dual-credit programs, which allow high school students to work toward associate degrees.

The press release from HCC on this is here. In case you’re wondering who else applied for the job, that list is here. Schechter had nominated former HISD Trustee Don McAdams, but apparently his now-former colleagues had other ideas. In case you’re wondering, a little Googling around tells me that Leila Feldman is the daughter-in-law of Houston City Attorney David Feldman. I didn’t find anything else that was particularly interesting, so if you know Ms. Feldman, leave a comment. She and Herlinda Garcia will be on the ballot this November in addition to the three Trustees whose terms expire this year – Bruce Austin, Yolanda Navarro Flores, and Neeta Sane, assuming they file for re-election.