HISD ‘recapture’ proposition and Pasadena elections attract attention of Houston GLBT Political Caucus.
By Brandon Wolf
Early voting begins today (Monday, April 24) in May 6 elections in 17 cities and eight school districts across Harris County.
Voters in Deer Park, El Lago, Friendswood, Hilshire Village, Humble, Jersey Village, Katy, La Porte, Pasadena, Pearland, Piney Point Village, Seabrook, Shoreacres, South Houston, Stafford, Taylor Lake Village, and West University Place will be electing city council members and mayors, and voting on propositions.
Voters in San Jacinto College District, Clear Creek ISD, Houston ISD, Humble ISD, Katy ISD, Pasadena ISD, Pearland ISD, and Spring Branch ISD will be electing school board trustees, and voting on propositions.
Anti-Gay Flier Surfaces in Pearland
When 18-year-old Dawson High School senior Michael Floyd filed as a candidate for the Pearland ISD Board race, it didn’t surprise his classmates who elected him student council president two years in a row. But Floyd attracted plenty of media attention—initially because of his young age, and later due to his support for transgender student rights.
Floyd has been critical of Pearland Superintendent John Kelly, who compared trans kids to pedeophiles and has refused to allow them to use restrooms based on their gender identity. Pearland resident Kimberly Shappley has requested that the district allow her 6-year-old trans daughter Kai to use girls’ restrooms. Floyd said meeting Kimberly and Kai “inspired me to take a step forward in running.”
On April 14, a flier began appearing on the doors of Pearland residents that stated: “It has just come to my attention that the liberal gay rights Democrats have put their candidates in the Pearland election to try and take over city council and the school board.”
Although municipal and school board elections are nonpartisan, the Texas Democratic Party is backing Floyd and two other candidates in Pearland races.
The flier was signed by a “Concerned Christian,” who gave her name and phone number and listed several candidates she feels voters should support. After the flier was posted to Facebook and went viral, the alleged author denied responsibility.
Pearland Mayor Tom Reid, endorsed on the flier, issued a statement: “This letter was released without my consent or knowledge. I am proud of who we are, a city that is diverse and united. Let’s always remember to love our neighbors and resist fear. Let’s always stick up for the marginalized and protect the vulnerable.”
Charles Gooden Jr., candidate for another Pearland ISD trustee position, was also listed on the flier. He wrote on Facebook: “I do not know the author nor do I condone this endorsement. Further, the tone of the letter is something I detest in local politics. I am a Christian and my faith has taught me to love and serve others regardless of whether or not they share my faith.”
Reached for comment by OUTSMART, Floyd said: “This is a no-compromise issue on my end. Civil rights aren’t up for debate. I will be the only voice on the Pearland Board, if elected, to support transgender rights.”
Caucus: Vote ‘Yes’ on HISD Recapture
At its April 6 meeting, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus recommended that voters say “Yes” to the HISD “recapture” proposition.
Under the Texas school finance system, HISD is considered property-wealthy and required to send a portion of property tax revenue to the state to fund public education, in a system called “recapture” (nicknamed “Robin Hood”). Last November, voters approved a proposition for HISD to not pay the funds.
Since then, the Texas Education Agency lowered the amount HISD would be required to pay the state from $162 million to $77 million. HISD decided to again ask voters whether to pay the amount or to allow the state to take the funds through “detachment”—or by reassigning Harris County’s most valuable commercial properties to another ISD, which will receive the property taxes.
Voting to pay the recapture funds will probably mean tax increases. Voting for detachment, however, will endanger HISD’s ability to pay bond obligations, and will decrease the future income needed for school operations.
President Fran Watson said although the GLBT Political Caucus usually doesn’t get involved in propositions, this one is relevant.
“LGBT’s have children in HISD schools, and LGBT’s pay property taxes,” Watson said.
For more info on the recapture proposition, go here.
Pasadena Races Spur LGBT Outreach
Latinos represent 63 percent of Pasadena’s population and 42 percent of its registered voters. In 2011, maps were approved for an eight-member City Council, all from single-member districts. After Latinos won four of the eight seats in 2013, the council voted to adopt a new system with six district seats and two at-large seats. The vote was 4-4, with the mayor breaking the tie. Voters approved the charter amendment by 79 votes.
In January, a federal judge ruled that the new council arrangement intentionally diluted Latino voting strength, and the eight-district system was reinstated.
The Caucus determined that it was too late to screen and endorse candidates this year in Pasadena, but Watson said many volunteers will participate in phone banks and canvassing.
Watson said the issue has generated increased support for expanding the Caucus reach beyond Houston and into Harris County jurisdictions. The November 2016 blue sweep of Harris County shows that progressive candidates have strength, she said.
The Caucus will begin reaching out to progressive organizations beyond Houston, and inviting candidates in future elections to screen for endorsement. The Caucus mailing list will be increased by identifying progressive voters across the county. Watson said financial and human resources will have to be considered as the outreach grows, but new members are expected to contribute time and money.