Hard as it may seem to believe, but I’m still uploading video from Sunday’s 80-20 PAC candidate forum. There’s only a few videos left to go. But once that’s complete, I’ll have some segments of last night’s debate/forum of District J candidates from Sharpstown High. It was good to run into a few old friends from the neighborhood, watch Kuff try to moderate a debate, and meet another of the candidates for the first time. And just for good measure, there was an empty lot campaign sign spotted on the way to the event. Making matters worse for that instance was that the sign was outside of the district that the candidate was running in.
On a techie note that doubles as a disclaimer, I now know two things about my phone’s camera that I didn’t know before. For one, there’s a 30 minute limit on video. My guess is that’s due to the enormous file size that’s generated from shooting in 720p HD. I considered using a smaller resolution, but opted to stick with the best my camera could do. That basically drives the issue of having to upload 100MB files to YouTube in the background while I get real work done. The other issue this creates is that, by having to end a video clip and restart it, there are some parts of questions that don’t get included. I have a good clean shot of the opening and the ending. I’ll probably edit some of the middle segments or upload full segments that capture entire Q&A segments. Secondly, the lighting at the event doesn’t seem to have done me any favors. There’s all kinds of light bouncing off of everyone on stage. The Sharpstown AV club was there filming the gig, also. You can see their cameras on the edges of some of my shots. So if anyone is looking for good pro-quality footage, I’ll refer you to them over my amateur, front-row, arm rest-stabilized footage.
As for the debate/forum/whatever, it was a pretty civil affair. That alone is cause for optimism since the district should be fine regardless of who emerges as the winner. Since there was about 60 minutes or so to talk about a range of issues, there were some noticable stylistic differences in terms of the comfort level that each candidate had with this type of setting. I’m obviously partial since I’m known Mike Laster since 2004, supported him in his race for District F in 2009 and support him this time around. The rest of the voters in attendance probably share that since Mike’s been a President of Sharpstown Dems. To the extent that applause levels may mean anything, I feel it means enough to say that the room was Mike’s last night.
The entirety of the event demonstrated Mike’s ease with the format and the nature of the questions. Criselda Romero was fine for the most part. There was some repetition in talking points that came out over the course of the hour, though. Over-use of terms like “stakeholders”, “community”, “dialogue” and others tend to now come across as scripted. Criselda’s bright and I don’t doubt that she’d make a fine councilmember, but the low number of voting-eligible population in the district put a premium on authenticity. Rodrigo Canedo, I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time. Seems like a good guy and there wasn’t much that I could quibble with in his answers. But the nervous laughter in all of his answers is a bit demonstrative of a first-time candidate and probably didn’t help him connect as well as he’s capable of.
As for the issues, there’s a great deal in common among the candidates. All supported the Rebuild Houston proposition and agree that there’s room for improvement on the execution of it now that it’s in place. Romero made a point that she would fight against the use of those funds for purposes it’s not designed for. It sounds good, but there will definitely be some gray areas that come up from time to time that might complicate that stance. The recent drought is a good case in point. The district as a whole supported the proposition (and for whatever it’s worth, I didn’t). Given the nature of the district, the question of apartment complexes came up. As one who resides in an apartment, I do feel obliged to credit Laster’s response, which acknowledged that the apartments are comprised of people and aren’t just structures that generate crime.
All in all, the differences between candidates was fairly minor on the big matters. Whichever style or background excites any particular voter, I’ll leave it for them to decide. Personally, I think it’s a good crop of candidates to choose from. You’ve got a guy who’s worked on civic matters with the homeowners association, the management district and so on. You’ve got a woman who’s worked in city government and has experience with the job she’s trying to earn. And you’ve got a business owner who’s been active and involved in the neighborhood. No parachute candidates. We’ll see how nasty things get when the mail starts dropping. But for now, it looks like a can’t miss opportunity for the district.
Anyways, as the video for the event get uploaded, I’ll be adding the links for them. Expect the opening and closing to be the first videos. In the interim, here’s Kuff’s Q&A with each:
UPDATE: Finally … one meager (700+MB) video uploaded.
UPDATE 2.0: Closing arguments.
More to come tomorrow ….