I'll be quite candid with you, Dear Reader. I didn't especially want to run for Harris County Judge. Much of county government in Texas revolves around tax policy, and my understanding of tax policy is best described as "intuitive." County taxation and expenditure is as nuts & bolts as it gets.
When I ran for the open US Senate seat in 2012, the office of Senator fit my big-picture orientation on the world; I have a much deeper understanding of and appreciation for the philosophical questions that guide the deliberative house of Congress. I made several trips to various spots in Texas, some of which I had visited previously, some not. It was easy to connect with voters in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth, Laredo, Midland-Odessa, Lufkin-Nacogdoches, and West, as well as Houston; most of the voters knew a thing or two about he US Senate.
I saw myself running for Senate again in 2014, this time against the incumbent John Cornyn. However, I made my move a little too late, and Emily "SpicyBrown" Sánchez of Del Rio filed for that position first. I could have run against her—sometimes we do have contested nominations in the Green Party of Texas—but I saw that my schedule in my new job would be less flexible about traveling during the work week and thus demurred.
My next choice would have been to run for US House District 18, occupied since 1995 by Sheila Jackson Lee. Yes, as much as I have touted Rep. Jackson Lee as a Progressive ally, it was time to give her some competition. However, Remington Alessi proved himself much more enthusiastic about taking on this challenge. Whereas I have trepidations about alienating potential allies in the Democratic Party (going back to 2000), Remington has none.
OK then, how about County Judge? I have lived in Houston itself, as well as in the unincorporated wilds of Cy-Fair and Clear Lake. My total time living in Harris County adds up to more than 40 years. I wasn't born here, but destiny brought me here at age 3. My first home here was in Bunker Hill Village, where my grandparents had bought a house during the great oil & gas migrations of the 1960s and '70s. As much as I love Houston itself, I love this sprawling county that is larger than Rhode Island and four times as populous. I have seen examples of good and bad county government: I lived in Precinct 3 when Bob Eckels had his legal difficulties. I have seen 40 years of unguided growth, flood maps redrawn in secret, real estate developers getting too wealthy and powerful, people and small businesses getting the shaft.
It's well past time to bring smart, sensible growth to Harris County.
Side note: Why run against Sheila? For one thing, she's not as Progressive as she would like her constituents to believe. It's hard to be consistently Progressive in the House of Representatives, so I completely understand that: Sometimes you have to engage in horse-trading, and sometimes you have to follow the path that will best serve your district regardless of your ideology. What galls me even more, though, was an incident having to do with Sheila's campaign troops in 2012.
I went to Palm Center on the Sunday of early voting in October 2012. Palm Center, at the corner of Griggs Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard, combines commercial and community facilities between the Third Ward and Sunnyside districts of southeast Houston. It's a great place for early voting, and on that one Sunday locals turn out after church, dressed in their finery, and they socialize before and after they vote. I was encouraging voters to vote for Green candidates in races where the Democrats had no nominees, and to look farther down the ballot for the bond issues (such as $2 billion for fixing HISD school buildings). A few of Sheila's crew showed up and started encouraging voters to vote straight-ticket Democrat, which would have deprived them of voting in two statewide races and on the bonds.
If it were just me, the middle-aged white dude, affected by this, it would have been bad enough, as they made me feel like an outsider bringing in complex foreign ideas like multi-party democracy. But it wasn't just me: Dozens of high schoolers were already there as well, trying to convince voters to approve the HISD bonds, which they couldn't do if they just voted Straight D and walked out. I truly believe that Sheila's campaigners did the people of the MLK Corridor a grave disservice by telling them that voting anything other than Straight D was too complicated for them.