Krishna knows you can't be everywhere at once. I committed to a Nick Lampson house party with my amazingly gracious friend and fellow blogger, muse.
And who do I find there as well? Geri and her mom, who I have called "cute-as-a-bug" granny with a megaphone". I was wondering if I had failed to properly douse myself with anti-stink agents, as they, upon seeing me, immediately got up and beat a retreat to the door.
Then they explained to me that since I was there to lend a hand, they could go to the Candidates Forum. Here in Texas we have Candidates Forums (Fora?).
Candidates Forum? Slap to forehead. I had clean forgotten about it. So I was glad that they were going to go and lend support to our candidates, but felt bad because now two of us bloggers were going to be at the Nick Lampson house party, and neither of us at the Forum.
(The house party, by the way, went very well. Nick was charming, informative and the attendees were really nice people that asked really great questions. I learned a lot - but then, I am an empty vessel here, I always learn a lot).
I asked Geri if she would take notes for me so I could post something about the Forum. There is something you need to know about Geri. If you ask her to do something for you, she will not only do that, but also wash your car, take out your trash and walk your dog. She is that kind of person. So from this point on, what you have is Geri's take on the Candidates Forum that took place at the George Library on Thursday night. Geri is my first guest blogger.
I got to the Forum too late to hear Albert Hollan and Rudy Velasquez speak. They both assured us they were good!
Cynthia Dunbar, a Republican and candidate for State Board of Education used a story of her father to make the distinction between a politician and a statesman, promising to be the statesman. She just wanted us to know her political family ties. But she spoke well about the need to improve education in the state and did not say anything that either Dems or Repugs could be offended by.
Farhan Shamsi did very well to explain his background and his interest in being Justice of the Peace for Precinct 3. He focused primarily on his agenda for improving juvenile justice and to reach young people before they cycle in and out of the justice system.
His opponent, Ken Cannata, tried to counter Farhan Shamsi's campaign slogan that you do not need a lawyer to do the work of the people's court. He touted his legal background and his AV rating which he says is for integrity and quality work! He made a point about the juvenile court being only one of three key areas of focus.
Veronica Torres was solid in her presentation of her personal background and her experience in the District Clerk's office. Using some notes, she listed around ten job responsibilities that she was experienced at doing that are required in the District clerk's office. She spoke confidently and directly and made it clear that she had prepared for this job all her life and is prepared educationally and experientially to provide competent and reliable service as District Clerk. Both Veronica and her opponent praised the work of Glory Hopkins.
Her opponent, Rebecca Elliott, spoke for an interminable amount of time about her many children and how wonderful they all are only to conclude that diatribe with the comment, "But I am a Mother so I would say that!" She then went on to say that she has been in public service and done this and that in the community and finally got around to saying she has some relevant experience and of course dropped the name of her husband Mike Elliott to be sure we all knew she was sufficiently connected to the good ole boys network.John Zerwas, Republican for Texas House of Rep. District 28 (Parts of Harris, Waller, Wharton Counties) described his background as an anesthesiologist at Memorial Herman and now a chief of staff where he "herds cats", He focused more on his platform than on his experience saying he is opposed to the Trans Texas Corridor (but sees transportation issues as important); education funding , immigration reform- need to secure the border; healthcare- 43% of legislative budget is for healthcare issues.
Ken Bryant, Republican for State House of Rep. District 27 (covers Richmond, Rosenberg, MC, Stafford, Needville) currently on the FBISD Board says there is a CLEAR CHOICE against the 10 year incumbent, Dora Olivo, who he did not want to be critical of but then went on to say she did her best but was ineffective and failed the business interests of Fort Bend County. He stressed his conservative platform: how schools should not be funded by property and business taxes; keep taxes low...yada yada yada. (God I love it when Geri yadas).
Dora Olivo, his opponent, says she is now an attorney with a businessman as a husband but grew up as a cotton picker so she knows how important it is that the "little people" have a voice and "I am their voice! " Then she gave a litany of endorsements from labor, environment, realtors, Hospital Association, teachers. As for healthcare and housing..."we can do better". She was the first candidate that the timer had to kick off the stage.
Bob Smither, Libertarian for US Congress, District 22. college educator, business owner, father , husband....He's worried about the path our country is on and wants to return it to the people. Cited the Bill of Rights and Constitution and says we need to secure those rights against government encroachment. (No mistake that he is a Libertarian! ) He went on to say that all problems need to be solved through voluntary action and pointed to Katrina as a case in point: The government blocked thousands of volunteer efforts. And the result? We are further taxed! He then went on to criticize Lampson's voting record in Congress that spent $4600 for every man, woman , and child, amounting to $1800 for the average family.
Joe Reasbeck, Republican write-in candidate invoked fear so much I looked away and thought it was Bush talking! His priorities are national security and economic security. With a $14M economy , 2/3 driven by the American consumer, we have to be concerned about our economy. "To remain a military and economic superpower we must defeat Islamic Fundamentalism!" So we must keep in place our founding blocks of education and economic systems because China and India are going to to overtake our place in the world.FEAR, FEAR, FEAR!
"Silly" Shelley Sekula Gibbs (no hyphen mind you!), Republican preferred write-in candidate; physician, wife, mother. In Clearlake over 20 years and if we consider medical school in Galveston, she lived in the area 30 years (is she implying someone else is not from here?). "IT's important to have a strong conservative voice in Congress." I represent conservative values...family values like winning the war on terror. We have to make sure we don't cut and run. Secure our borders and stop illegal immigration....and stop sanctuary city policy...(whoa, she just got run out of the City Council meeting for that and she said it again!). Make sure we cut taxes and make tax laws fair and simple. We must reduce frivolous lawsuits and make healthcare accessible for all Texans. We must assure the right to work across state and nation, meaning we have to keep jobs in America. My Dad worked for Shell Oil and so he taught me that (and she thinks she was named Shelley because he was a "company man").
WE must protect life, meaning life must be valued in the womb or for the elderly. If we do support stem cell research it should be with adult stem cells, chord blood but not embryonic cells. "We should not take life to save life." We can cure diabetes and Parkinson's with research on bone marrow, chord and adult stem cells. I believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. "These are the values that the people of district 22 have." (Cough Cough. Whoa I'm a voter in District 22 I don't believe any of this!). You will need to vote for me twice. Because of some "judicial manipulations" you will need to vote once in the general election and once in the special election.Neeta Sane, for County Treasurer. Neeta, unlike all other candidates who stiffly stood at the mike on the stand, took the mike out of the stand and looked the audience in the eyes and spoke about her family, her business education and experience and made the point clearly that the current incumbent has not safeguarded our tax dollars and that she will bring integrity and safeguards against such fraud back to the Treasurer's office. She spoke of her community involvement to emphasize her leadership roles and experience.
Neeta's opponent, Jeff Council, for Treasurer drew even more retorts from the Democratic side of the house than did Silly Shelley! He apologized for being late because he was meeting as Director of the Fort Bend County Fair. he made sure we knew he served in the military (all who had any extended family mentioned their service- a son, a father, whoever...it's the way to get respect these days I guess...even from your opponents)...oh yes it was the 14th artillery for 2 years! Been in these parts since 1962 when he went into the insurance business, grew that one to be profitable with "sound conservative business practices" and in 1984 went into his own insurance business and grew it with "sound conservative business practices" and then sold it in 2001 to New First Insurers and grew it with ...well you get the idea. But now, he is president and doesn't work in it all day so, in January 2007 when I am County Treasurer "I can be a full time Treasurer." I will be there managing "THOSE LADIES" (audible groan from every conscious woman in the room!) and making sure the taxpayers get the most for their money. I will be able to get cooperation from other agencies, officers etc. "I know Fort Bend County and Fort Bend County Knows Me?" (Boy do we ever!) I am the best choice for Treasurer because I will use the same "sound conservative business practices."David Matoaka filmed the event. All candidates thanked the organizers: the Women's Auxiliary of the VFW and reminded voters to early vote on October 23 rd and on election day November 7th.There were about 50 people in the room, most of them candidates, their supporters, staff and activists.
The meeting ended with a formality of the organizers, sounded like a prayer or verse of some kind that many knew and recited. People did not have heads bowed but it sounded like a Biblical verse.And here I am back again:Holy smokes, Geri. Am I ever glad that you attended that Forum and not I. First, you are on it like a duck on a June Bug. Second, I hate all of these things that are attended by candidates, their staff, the unpersuadables, and no one else. If it wasn't for you, Geri, the word would have stopped at the door in the George Library. I salute you, and we all thank you.