More than a snowball’s chance in Texas?

Frank Corte recently announced that after serving 18 years as the representative for state district 122, he will not run for another term. While popular in his district, which takes up most of the Northwest and north central parts of San Antonio and Bexar County, many Democrats see him as too far to the right, even in the conservative district, and being too partisan of a politician, seemingly playing more to the interests of Republican party leadership than the needs of the district he has been elected often to serve.

His decision has opened an opportunity for other Republicans to enter the race, soon after announcing his intentions, Lyle Larson, a former county commissioner and congressional candidate, announced his intentions to run for the state representative seat. There has also been some speculation that San Antonio council member Elisa Chan, a favorite of the business community, may be courted to run for the seat. Both candidates will have many advantages over the Democratic candidate in the November election. The reasons include advantages in fundraising, name recognition, to the conservative leanings of the district. However I feel a Democratic candidate that can energize their voting base can win a close election on Election Day.

Any Democratic candidate will have to navigate their way through numerous issues, there are three issues that will likely define any candidate though. The handling of traffic congestion and in particular the issue of toll roads looms large for all candidates. The district wants a solution to growing traffic congestion but there is also a vocal and very active anti-toll road group to contend with in addressing all possible solutions. There is a strong pro-business sentiment in the North side of San Antonio that cannot be ignored but should be embraced. Also while the majority of the district may look at the state of their wallets when considering who to vote for, many in the district will vote as social conservatives strongly opposing wedge issues like homosexual marriage and abortion rights for women. All these issues must be addressed and are best addressed head on with voters.

Any Democratic candidate should be seen as the real candidate of opportunity, not just for big business but for everyone that calls the district home. There should be a common sense approach to land mines of social issues and a pragmatic touch is necessary on the important fiscal issues facing the district. Ultimately the Democratic candidate can be a champion of consumers, small business, workers, and the environment, balancing the rights of these groups with the needs of corporations that call the district home as well.

Whoever comes out as the Democratic candidate for the state representative seat in the spring, challenges are waiting that may seem insurmountable. While Barack Obama carried Bexar County in the recent presidential elections, John McCain carried the district with two-thirds of the vote. If I were the candidate, I still would not stray from the heart of the issues that define me as a liberal. If anything, I would embrace my ideals as a new generation of “New Deal” Democrat. New Deal Democrats of the 1930s took in many of the ideas of populist Democrats and progressive Republicans of the time, more liberal on fiscal issues and putting social issues at the forefront of the debate. New Dealers were strong on military issues and believed in taking an active role with foreign policy.

This idea of a new type of “New Deal” Democrat in a state representative race would mean that you have to strike a tone between those of the consumers, small business, workers, environment and those of the corporations that do business in the district. It means defining a liberal Democrat as someone who takes care of the social needs of the people but not necessarily at the overwhelming expense of our pocketbooks. It means standing tall with the need of first responders in emergencies as well as those that have served in our military. All this while creating opportunity for all. As a candidate, I would create an environment in the district that encourages self sufficiency for all through creating more than just a hand out but a hand up for everybody, businesses included. Teach a person how to fish, not just giving a person a fish is the philosophy to campaign on for the Democrat running in this district.

I Happen to Notice

While finishing up a good burger with my nephew, way up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I notice that Frank Corte, my state rep where I live in San Antonio, Texas, announced he will not be running for reelection after serving 18 years in the state lege. He was the one responsible for registering me to vote upon graduating from high school and I have been a steady vote against him when he has been up for reelection. Over the years, I find that he is too far to the right for a liberal like me and his very partisan style of playing politics never appealed to me either.

While I have a little experience running for office myself and I am a lowly elected city official as a Representative of the Poor, a position I am sure few if any in the city are aware of, I won’t be running for this office, not now or for the next several years. The desire to finish college and perhaps teach a few years are more important to me than to get paid peanuts and headaches for being a state legislator. My time to run again will come, just not today.

With that in mind, I can’t help but wonder what it would take for a Democrat to win in this otherwise conservative district? With former county commisoner Lyle Larson already stepping up to run and even the possibiltiy of San Antonion Councilwoman Elisa Chan being mentioned, does a good Democrat stand a reasonable chance? I think one can climb up the steep hill and do it and in the next post or two I’ll be offering my thoughts on the issues and campaign a Democrat may have to deal with.

Where did I lose my hat again?

I recently read that Charlie Connor resigned from the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees. In the short article I read from MySA.com, he did note that there were problems with communication in the district.

In 2006, I ran against Mr. Connor for a seat on the Board of Trustees. Seriously outspent by my opponent and with very little time and money resources myself, needless to say I got beat around. At the time I did not see this as too big of an issue, as I was running a campaign on my ideas as opposed to a campaign against Mr. Connor. In fact I would have been inclined to vote for him if I was not his opponent. But as time went on I really got an opportunity to see the issues of poor communication in the Alamo Colleges play out as I read the news in the local paper and online.

I did not campaign on too many issue, I was still trying to get a good grasp on many of them, but the one issue I kept plugging away at more than all the others was what I perceived as a serious lack of communication in the district from all angles. This would seem to play out, especially between the administration and the colleges themselves.

With Charlie Connor’s retirement, someone was named to serve until an election to fill the remainder of the term occurs in May 2010. With my term and with it ten years of service as a Representative of the Poor with the City of San Antonio coming to an end this December, perhaps it may soon be time to examine this position again.

Remember the Homeless

Yesterday I attended a memorial service for homeless people who died in San Antonio. Below are a few words that I wrote for iGoSA.com. The pictures that accompany the writing on iGoSA.com were taken by Darren Abate. When I get my thoughts and notes sorted out, I will be adding my own thoughts to what I observed last night.

About thirty people attended a candlelight vigil that was held Monday night at Milam Park in Downtown San Antonio in observance of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, which is traditionally held on or about the first day of winter – the longest day of the year – in observance of homeless persons who died during the year.

National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day was established in 1990 to bring attention to the plight of the homeless and to remember those who lost their lives to homelessness.

The memorial was sponsored locally by SAMMinistries, Coker United Methodist Church, and several other organizations, and nationally by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

Tonight’s memorial included a city proclamation read by Navarra Williams, the Chair and CEO of SAMMinistries, along with prayers and song by others. Attendees came together to keep the candles burning, if only for a few moments, due to a pronounced wind. The candles burned, held by attendees, as the names of the homeless who died in San Antonio this past year were read aloud to the toll of a brass bell. In all, seventy-four names were read.

No sleep…

…but I am thankful that I am not sleeping in my room, in a bed, staring at a ceiling fan. This morning is the start of a day of blog posts on the homeless. Those that are homeless do not always have a bed of their own, much less a room with a ceiling fan to stare at on a long cold night.

I will be writing on homelessness because today is December 21st, the first day of Winter, it is also National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Here in San Antonio, we remember those of our own homeless with a service in Milam Park, which is in downtown San Antonio, Texas. The service starts at 6:30pm and will run an hour.

Perhaps in the next hour or two I will get a little sleep, then I wake up with the morning and will go to some local coffee shop. We all have images of what a homeless person is, later this morning I will paint a picture of homelessness that you may not see.

Homeless in San Antonio

Homeless in San Antonio

CAUSES OF HOMELESSNESS IN SAN ANTONIO (provided by SAMMinistries)

Lack of affordable housing

Low paying jobs

Mental illness and the lack of needed services

Substance abuse and the lack of needed services

Domestic violence

Poverty

Unemployment

Large family households

FACTS ABOUT HOMELESSNESS (provided by SAMMinistries)

On any given day, there are 4,000 homeless men, women and children in San Antonio.

70% of homeless have been homeless over 1 year

31% are families with children

66% are single men or women

3% are unaccompanied youth

48% are Hispanic

32% are Anglo

19% are African American

20% are employed

15% are underemployed

16% are severely mentally ill

12% have substance abuse problems

12% are veterans

As a side note on the homelessness, due the large number of young children who are homeless, the average age of a homeless person in San Antonio is… 9 years old.

Two Steps Back

A little early but I am at Cool Beans Coffee, sitting with my “Hammer” and a pen. I think about not where I am going, but rather where I have been. I have been somewhat active in local politics for ten years now. Most of that time on a community board that addresses poverty and some of that time as a Democratic official and other times as a candidate for school board seats.

I look back at the past ten years and I can’t help but ask “Why I stayed with it?” Certainly plenty of frustrations with it all, but I still keep at it with my idealism intact, if not oddly stronger with recent events that have taken place locally and nationally.

Ten years, 1999 to 2009. It began with Clinton’s scandals, terror, war, swift boating and other dirty pool. Years continued with global warming, fake news, Hope, Change, and the same. I have played my bit part as a citizen, voter, and politician. I see where I have been, where I can go to. But through it all, I still ask myself, why?