District B City Council Race Shaping Up

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While District B City Councilman Jerry Davis is term-limited and rumored to be gearing up for a State Rep. race in 2020 against Harold Dutton, the streets are ablaze with talk about those lining up to replace him.  

Here’s a list of folks to look out for as the 2019 Municipal Elections approach:


RENEE JEFFERSON-SMITH

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Looking at her social media accounts, it’s clear Jefferson-Smith has had the idea to launch a city council campaign in the back of her head for some time now.  

She carries a hefty resume touting over a decade in the oil and gas industry before branching out as a small business owner, now she’s wants to be Councilwoman Jefferson-Smith.

From the polished, campaign-quality photos from social events she’s thrown over the past year or so, to the arsenal of heavy-weight contacts she’s built like union boss Claude Cummings and Councilman Dwight Boykins and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, she’s gearing up for what is sure to be a spirited race.

Jefferson-Smith has a campaign Facebook page with over 3,000 Likes already.  We’re a year away from the election!

I met Renee last year during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  While her home had flooded, she was working with a few churches to become, and manage, distribution centers for the North side.

Of the bunch, she’s the only one to officially declare her candidacy, doing so months ahead of the 2018 General Election to occur next week.

While she’s been working alongside some political heavy-weights over the past couple of years, will they back her up as election time comes around?

TARSHA JACKSON

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I’ve known Tarsha Jackson almost the longest on this list of potential candidates, and while I may not have always seen eye to eye with the paid staff at the organization she now works for, I’ve always liked and respected her personally. When I talk to Tarsha, I speak to Tarsha the strong Black woman and community organizer, not the employee of her employer.

Jackson now leads the Criminal Justice campaign for Texas Organizing Project (TOP), which was founded by Ginny Goldman back in 2010 or so.  I used to work for them, too.  They’re billed as a grassroots organizing aimed at improving the lives of low-income Brown and Black Texans. She’s already got prototypes of her lit printed, and will likely lean on the coins of Ginny Goldman’s donor network, which is quite hefty.  I just hope she stands her ground and doesn’t allow Ginny et. al. to shape her into something she’s not. 

Jackson is straight up.  She tells it like it is, and has a genuine connection to the people and work she does.  Her son was caught up in the Criminal Justice system at a young age, and that’s why she fights the way she does.  


When meeting Jackson, it’s clear she’s genuinely passionate.  Not that watered-down version often seen from those who majored in Philanthropy in undergrad, but like a mother who fights like hell.

Like Renee, Tarsha hasn’t run for office before. But she’ll likely have the experienced operatives and community leaders (and field+donors) from TOP to carry a strong campaign through to November.


ALVIN BYRD

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He was Chief of Staff to former Councilman Jarvis Johnson and ran to replace him when he became term-limited in 2011. He came out front in a field of 8 candidates with a razor thin advantage over Jerry Davis.  He garnered 25.10% over Davis’ 24.41% forcing a runoff. However, when the runoff came around, Davis flipped that razor thin margin.

The final tally was 50.79% for Davis compared to 49.21% for Byrd.  That was less than 103 votes that cost him the election in a race that pulled over 5,000 voters.

He eventually took another job down at City Hall, and has been gearing up for this since he lost in 2011.  My guess is he decided against running against the incumbent, and would instead wait until the next open election.  Some political experts might look at that decision and agree saying “Sit back and wait until another open election.”  While conventional wisdom might’ve been the easy choice, others might wonder if his flame dimmed in the past seven years making way for a new slate of candidates.

Campaign Finances:

In 2011, by October he had raised $28,250 for his campaign with $17,347 left in the bank for the final haul.  Pretty impressive for a race like this one. 

His largest donors/amounts on the report were:

  • Ousley Lacy from Pearland  $1,250,

  • BGC Pharmacy from Houston $1,000

  • CBIC Construction from Deer Park $1,000

  • ***Sylvester Turner Campaign $1,000

  • Randy Bridges from Clute, TX $2,000

  • CWA gave $5,000 (from endorsement)

  • ***Jarvis Johnson $1,000

Mr. Byrd’s remained a constant presence at City Hall and probably built new relationships holding on to the role of Chief of Staff, but only time will tell.  If Byrd enters the race, he might break his way through ending up as the frontrunner in what is sure to be a spirited race.





KATHY BLUEFORD-DANIELS

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Full disclosure: I love me some Kathy Blueford-Daniels!  I met her back in 2013 when she interviewed for the Harris County Young Democrats Endorsement Committee.  I sat on the committee at that time, and was impressed with her candidness, genuine drive, and tell-it-like-it-is delivery.  

I remember this encounter like it was yesterday.  

Councilman Jerry Davis wasn’t able to come in and interview, so we had him on speakerphone.  Both Kathy and James Joseph came in for the interview in person. For the record, while the Harris County Young Dems and many other partisan organizations don’t boast huge bank accounts or boots on the ground for campaigns, they do give you another bulletpoint on your resume, and a huge notch on your belt in the form of VAN access.  The Voter Action Network (VAN) is a gold mine of voter info that allows you to cut walk lists and phone lists based on the voter registration information of voters in your district, city, state, etc.

When it came down to whom we’d endorse, it was a close vote between Kathy and the incumbent Councilman.

He won the endorsement and went on to win the election, however, Kathy came in second place in front of James “Joe” Joseph and Kenneth Perkins in the 4-way race.  Blueford-Daniels ran an impressive campaign reaching $10k in the bank to work with.

Her fundraising didn’t contain the names of construction companies and the like, instead, remaining grassroots with the exception of a $1,000 donation from Paul Kubosh, brother of current Councilman Michael Kubosh. 

Eventually, I’d run into Kathy at HISD Board Meetings fighting to keep schools open, or at protests like the one held to keep the original Wheatley High School building from being torn down.  Many in the community felt there was cause to preserve the building so many had used in the past.

Kathy was a constant presence at HBAD meetings when I used to attend, and remains an advocate against gun violence through her BLACKMOM Organization for mothers who survive gun violence.  

Kathy lost her son Patrick Murphy to gun violence, and it lit a fire under her that has inspired so many others.

She’s fixed me many to-go plates, and I always look forward to hearing from her over the phone or in person.  

While she hasn’t announced a run, I hope she throws her hat in the race.  

If she enters, she’ll bring name recognition, a second-place finish from 2013, and all the privileges afforded to one working for Senator Miles.

She currently leads the Senator’s constituent services outfit for the Greater-Fifth Ward Area.  

Just guessing, Im sure if she ran, he’d support her… and that would be MAJOR. Further, Blueford-Daniels has deep relationships with the grassroots leaders at Texas Organizing Project. 

JAMES “JOE’ JOSEPH

I don’t know James personally, nor has he announced, but when asked about the upcoming City Council race, his name always comes up.  He ran for this seat in 2013 taking 7.84% of the vote.  Taking a look at his campaign finance reports, he touted a $60,000+ balance which was impressive until I took a deeper look at the details.

Much of this was “in-kind” donations like the $5,000 Reverend James Caldwell gave to him to act as his campaign manager.  Another “imaginary” $5,000 in-kind donation came from David Neal who acted as a Consultant on the campaign.  Same for Terrance Hall… the invisible $5,000 “in-kind.” 

He supposedly spent $4,000 at Vista Print… you know… the online site you go to where business cards are $20 for 1,000 and your first 500 are free? Yeah, that Vista Print.

Yeah.

In the coming weeks and months, this race will really take shape, and we’ll keep you posted. The candidate list is sure to get longer.