Though we are still a long way out from the high campaign season, Houston City Council races are already starting to get complicated… especially for Progressive, Pro-Equality voters. As John Wright reports via Project Q Houston, two of the city’s most notable political forces are now in a crowded field for City Council…
After narrowly missing a runoff for Houston City Council in 2013, Jenifer Rene Pool hoped 2015 would be her year.
Pool, who’s vying to make history as Texas’ first transgender elected official, decided in early 2014 to run for the At-Large Position 1 seat, which will be open in November because incumbent Stephen Costello is term-limited.
“Anybody who knew me knew that I was running for At-large Position 1,” Pool said. “I’d always hoped that this year the community would rally behind my campaign – to win this time.”
But those hopes were dampened during a holiday party for Houston Democratic clubs in December, Pool said. That’s when Lane Lewis, a gay man who serves as chair of the county party, announced he’ll also seek the At-Large Position 1 seat.
Wright’s post goes on to state that Pool was not pleased with Lewis’ decision to run for the seat. Lewis had no comment.
On the one hand, Houston’s Progressive, Pro-Equality community should be glad to have a strong slate of candidates for the 2015 election. Even with Mayor Parker’s time in office coming to a close, it’s great to see other LGBT leaders, allies courageous enough to join the cause.
On the other hand, it is perplexing that everyone insists on running for one very popular seat when others are available. Strong candidates like Pool, Lewis and newcomer Philippe Nassif have continued to pile into the At Large Position 1 race, while another seat for At Large Position 4 remains noticeably thin on challengers… save for the well-qualified Laurie Robinson. Those unfamiliar with Houston politics may wonder why so many candidates are filing for one seat over another. Both are At Large, meaning any Houston resident can run for the seat, regardless of where they live.
The short answer? Many assume that because Council Member C.O. Bradford is African-American, there has to be another African-American take over his seat. But the assumption is inaccurate. With 11 district seats and 5 At Large, the Council has plenty of opportunities for anyone and everyone that would like to run. Saving At Large 4 for candidates that haven’t even filed yet is not logical.
Which brings us to the original post topic. “Opportunity” is also a key term in this equation, because each candidate has a unique set of opportunities that they can leverage in the 2015 elections. But they don’t all rest in At Large 1. For example, if Pool were to switch to At Large 3, she would likely have a much larger support base in a head-to-head match up with CM Kubosh than she could attain having to split the “Democrat” vote and donor/endorsement base with Lewis. Given the unique history surrounding Pool, Kubosh and their opposing roles in the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, this seems the most logical match up for a 2015 contest. At Large 4 is also an option for anyone wishing to pursue it, but would seem a much better fit at this point for Nassif.
With months to go before the filing deadlines, we can all expect to see much political jockeying. When all the dust settles, let’s hope that those changes don’t leave the city’s healthy community of Progressive voters with some tough choices to make. Unlike past election cycles, 2015 is a year where there seems to be room enough for all.