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All the interviews for 2012

As we begin early voting for the November election, here are all the interviews I conducted for candidates who are on the ballot as well as for the referenda. These include interviews that were done for the primary as well as the ones done after the primary. I hope you found them useful.

Senate: Paul SadlerWebMP3

CD02: Jim DoughertyWebMP3

CD07: James CargasWebMP3

CD10 – Tawana CadienWebMP3

CD14: Nick LampsonWebMP3

CD20: Joaquin CastroWebMP3

CD21: Candace DuvalWebMP3

CD23: Pete GallegoWebMP3

CD27: Rose Meza HarrisonWebMP3

CD29: Rep. Gene GreenWebMP3

CD33: Marc VeaseyWebMP3

CD36: Max MartinWebMP3

SBOE6: Traci JensenWebMP3

SD10: Sen. Wendy DavisWebMP3

SD25: John CourageWebMP3

HD23: Rep. Craig EilandWebMP3

HD26: Vy NguyenWebMP3

HD127: Cody PogueWebMP3

HD131: Rep. Alma AllenWebMP3

HD134: Ann JohnsonWebMP3

HD137: Gene WuWebMP3

HD144: Mary Ann PerezWebMP3

HD146: Rep. Borris MilesWebMP3

HD147: Rep. Garnet ColemanWebMP3

HD150: Brad NealWebMP3

Harris County Sheriff: Sheriff Adrian GarciaWebMP3

Harris County District Attorney: Mike AndersonWebMP3

Harris County Attorney: Vince RyanWebMP3

Harris County Tax Assessor: Ann Harris BennettWebMP3

HCDE Position 3, At Large: Diane TrautmanWebMP3

HCDE Position 6, Precinct 1: Erica LeeWebMP3

Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 4: Sean HammerleWebMP3

Constable, Precinct 1: Alan RosenWebMP3

HISD Bond Referendum: Interview with Terry GrierMP3

City of Houston Bond and Charter Referenda: Interview with Mayor Annise ParkerMP3

HCC Bond Referendum: Interview with Richard SchechterMP3

Metro Referendum: Interviews with David Crossley, Gilbert Garcia and Christof Spieler, Sue Lovell, and County Commissioner Steve Radack

Interview with Vy Nguyen

Vy Nguyen

Fort Bend County is one of the most diverse places in America, with roughly equal shares of Anglo, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian populations. It’s fast-growing, now with three full State Rep. districts and a part of a fourth, and becoming more and more blue – President Obama received 48.5% of the vote in 2008, and local Dems have high hopes that he can win the county this year. HD26 was held for a long time by the now-retiring Rep. Charlie Howard, and to keep that district as Republican as possible the Lege had to slice and dice its mostly Asian neighborhoods until the district resembled a bizarre video game character. Running to spoil those efforts is Vy Nguyen. She is the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants and runs her own law firm as a civil litigation attorney. Nguyen is an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and if elected would be the first Vietnamese-American female State Legislator in the United States. Here’s the interview:

Vy Nguyen MP3

You can still find a list of all interviews I did for this primary cycle, plus other related information, on my 2012 Harris County Primary Elections page and my 2012 Texas Primary Elections page, which I now need to update to include fall candidate information. You can also follow this blog by liking its Facebook page.

July finance reports for area State House candidates

Here’s a brief look at the July campaign finance reports for candidates in area State House races of interest.

HD23 Raised Spent Cash Loan Wayne Faircloth 8,320 31,139 36,655 30,000 Bill Wallace 0 0 507 20,500 Craig Eiland 0 0 30,160 0 Craig Eiland 57,770 80,685 74,922 0

Faircloth and Wallace are in a runoff to take on Rep. Craig Eiland, whose red-leaning district is a rare pickup opportunity for the GOP. Bear in mind that candidates who had a competitive primary had to make an 8 day report for it, so their reporting period began May 21. Candidates like Eiland that had no primary opponents last reported in January, so they had much more time to raise funds for this report. If you’re wondering why Eiland is listed twice, it’s because he has both a regular candidate/officeholder report and a specific purpose committee report.

HD26 Jacquie Chaumette 16,461 35,730 39,079 0 Rick Miller 19,312 10,281 12,262 1,000 Vy Nguyen 6,150 1,008 7,650 0

HD26 was not drawn to be a competitive district, but it could become one after the DC court issues its long-awaited redistricting opinion. Vy Nguyen has been in this race from the beginning, however many maps ago that was, and I believe will do better than the district’s numbers predict. She’s smart and energetic and has a good future.

HD85 Phil Stephenson 3,925 21,965 3,127 20,000 Dora Olivo 4,312 2,349 3,991 2,150

The new Fort Bend district that spreads southwest into Wharton and Jackson Counties doesn’t seem to have drawn much financial interest so far. Olivo is a former State Rep who was defeated in the 2010 primary by Rep. Ron Reynolds and should have some fundraising capability, but a brief look through some previous report suggests this was not a strong suit of hers.

HD134 Sarah Davis 75,593 75,836 99,603 0 Ann Johnson 161,389 15,985 138,837 0

Once again a marquee race for Harris County. I have to say, Davis’ totals are distinctly unimpressive, and her burn rate is potentially troublesome for her. Lot of money spent on consultants and printing. Mostly, I’m stunned by her relatively meager haul, less than half of what challenger Ann Johnson took in. Maybe I’m just used to the prodigious totals that her predecessors, Ellen Cohen and Martha Wong, used to rack up. Both of them eventually lost, so consider this Exhibit A for “Money Isn’t Everything”, but it’s still strange to see a targeted incumbent get doubled up by a challenger. I can’t wait to see what the 30 Day reports will look like in this one.

HD137 MJ Khan 9,700 649 15,689 10,000 Gene Wu 40,157 39,895 40,310 50,000 Jamaal Smith 23,545 12,546 13,705 0

Like I said before, I don’t quite get what MJ Khan is doing. Maybe he’s just keeping his powder dry, I don’t know. I still don’t think state issues are a driving passion for him. We’ll see.

HD144 David Pineda 38,500 21,593 27,802 0 Mary Ann Perez 47,803 20,283 57,254 0

This may be the most competitive races in the state, with both parties getting their strongest candidate for November. One thing I’ve been meaning to comment on but haven’t gotten around to yet is Mary Ann Perez‘s amazing showing on Election Day in May. She collected 67% of the vote on E-Day, more than half of her final total, to vault past the 50% mark in her three-candidate race and avoid a runoff. Whatever she had going for a ground game, it worked. I suspect a good ground operation will be key in November as well.

That’s all I’ve got. Texas on the Potomac has the local Congressional roundup, Kos has a national view, and I’ll take a look at county reports in a separate post.

Three for HD144, Lee for HCDE

Since Monday night, I have heard of three people who are interested in running for HD144, the State Rep district that was drawn to favor the election of a Democrat by the San Antonio court. For the record, the 2008 numbers in HD144 are as follows:

President: Obama 53.16%, McCain 45.92%

Senate: Noriega 59.25%, Cornyn 38.89%

Supreme Court, Place 7: Houston 59.01%, Wainwright 38.87%

Supreme Court, Place 8: Yanez 59.57%, Johnson 38.43%

CCA, Place 3: Strawn 58.06%, Price 39.79%

Two candidates have filed for this seat and a third announced that he was running, though his announcement came before the two filings were announced. The first to announce a filing was Kevin Risner, son of George Risner, the Democratic JP in Precinct 2. The second was Pasadena City Council Member Ornaldo Ybarra, whose statement is beneath the fold. Finally, there is Cody Wheeler, who made an announcement and put out this statement, but as of last night had not filed. I look forward to meeting and interviewing these gentlemen, and may the best person win, including any others who may yet be looking at this district.

In other Harris County news, Erica Lee, daughter of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, has filed to run for HCDE Trustee in Precinct 1. She is the first Democrat to file for this position, the single easiest pickup opportunity for Democrats in Harris County next year, and whoever wins the primary will be virtually guaranteed to win in November. That person will not face incumbent Roy Morales, however, as he has undoubtedly done the math and will head off to the sunset and future opportunities to run for something. He wasn’t on the ballot this year and he may not be on it next year – I have no idea what this world is coming to. I am aware of at least one other person who had expressed an interest in this seat, but so far Erica Lee, whom I met briefly at the petition signing event the week of Thanksgiving (though I did not make the connection to her mother), is it. Stace has more.

I should note that we have two candidates for the at large HCDE position currently held by the ridiculous Michael Wolfe – Diane Trautman and David Rosen have both filed. There is also a Precinct 3 position for HCDE that does not have a Democratic challenger. I have heard that incumbent Republican Louis Evans is not running again, so while this would not be a likely pickup opportunity it seems to me that it deserves a candidate, since who knows what kind of candidate will emerge on the R side. For that matter, it would be nice to have a serious challenger to County Commissioner Steve Radack. Yeah, I know, I’d like a pony, too. Hey, wishes are still free.

Meanwhile, over in Fort Bend County, attorney Vy Nguyen has announced her candidacy for HD26, the multi-cultural district that was drawn to be nearly 50/50 by the court. Her statement is here. It’s fair to say that the Democratic road towards a House majority will go right through that district.

Finally, a semi-comprehensive list of Democratic filings from around the state can be found here. I see that Sylvia Romo has made it official, so we will have that contested primary over there. If you’re aware of any filing news I’ve missed, please let us know in the comments.

UPDATE: According to Robert Miller, HCC Trustee Mary Ann Perez is also interested in HD144, while incumbent Rep. Ken Legler has not decided if he will file for re-election.

(more…)

CM Hoang accused of forging names on petition signatures

This is just bizarre.

In the heart of Asia Town in southwest Houston, some homeowners in the Turtlewood Square subdivision say they’ve been robbed. They were not robbed of their belongings, but rather their good names.

“Definitely homeowners [are] scared, shocked, angry,” said Jenny Lu.

Sue Tsai, another neighbor, agreed.

“This is really underhanded,” she said.

“When I looked at my name, somebody forged it,” said Jody Pay.

The forgery feud involves an effort to change their street name from Turtlewood Drive, to Little Saigon Drive. One of the homeowners pushing for the name change is City of Houston Council Member Al Hoang.

The I-Team learned Hoang and five other homeowners are being sued by neighbors for allegedly forging signatures on a petition to change the street name. One way to officially file the petition according to city policy is for 75 percent of adjoining homeowners to sign their approval. The lawsuit claims such a petition, without enough signatures, was given to Council member Hoang. But when the politician later turned it into the City Planning and Development Department, it now had an extra 16 names on it, giving the document that needed 75 percent.

But plaintiffs claim those signatures were bogus.

“It kind of looks like my name, but it’s not, and I was very angered,” said Pay.

Go read the whole thing – the exchange between CM Hoang and the I-Team is a classic – and see what you think. The Chron story adds some extra details.

According to the plaintiffs, 13 petition signatures were forged. One neighbor, whose name initially was reported as forged, since has recanted her allegation, defense attorney Vy Nguyen said.

Nguyen said Hoang approached her clients about changing the street name in a bid to win votes for the upcoming city council election. She said they circulated the document around the street before one of her clients, Tam Pham, gave it to Hoang’s nanny to give to the councilman. She said the group did not authorize Hoang to submit it to the City’s Planning and Development Department.

“They stopped (getting signatures) at 24 when they got the first disapproval. They figured that they had gotten most of their people and that was all they could gather,” Nguyen said. “After that, they gave it to the nanny who would’ve gathered more signatures … I heard that it would be left at people’s homes. A lot of things could’ve happened to that petition.”

The defendants stand by Hoang’s nanny story, Nguyen said.

“My clients have not come to the conclusion that Al Hoang did it or that there was any foul play,” she said. “They want to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Plaintiffs attorney David Tang disputed the nanny theory.

“There are forged signatures there, and this petition passed through these five individuals’ hands with the most grievous one going to the city councilman’s office,” he said. “What’s really grievous about it is that the councilman had custody and control of that document before it went to the city planning department. … He has just interjected the nanny in there as a distraction. It’s a very convenient excuse. It’s worse than saying the dog ate my homework.”

I presume Ms. Nguyen is the attorney for some or all of CM Hoang’s codefendants in this suit. I’ll leave it to you to decide how likely it is that some cannot remember the name of their children’s nanny, and how likely it is that said unnamed nanny could come to have unsupervised possession of these petitions. A followup story from KHOU has a response from the city:

Mayor Parker pledged a thorough review of all petitions before any vote is taken to change Turtlewood to Little Saigon Drive.

“If there are any irregularities during that, we’ll investigate those, but we’ll have to get this sorted out,” Parker said.

The mayor also said, if she gets a formal complaint or formal request for investigation, she’ll have the City’s Office of Inspector General do just that.

The chair of the City Council’s Ethics and Council Governance Committee, Mike Sullivan, said he will not be launching an investigation at this point, and instead will take a wait-and-see approach.

Then I guess we’ll have to wait and see, too.

UPDATE: A correction from the Chron.

A story about a lawsuit accusing City Councilman Al Hoang of forging signatures on a petition that appeared on page B1 of the June 16 Houston Chronicle incorrectly attributed a statement to Hoang. It was the plaintiff’s lawsuit that claimed Hoang had said he did not know the name of his former nanny.

So noted.