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Sharpstown Democrats District J Candidate Forum

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:

- Mike Laster
- Criselda Romero
- Rodrigo Canedo

UPDATE: Finally ... one meager (700+MB) video uploaded.

UPDATE 2.0: Closing arguments.

More to come tomorrow ....


Local Redistricting Roundup

A couple of procedural matters and remaining linkage on local redistricting:

» Chron: City’s redistricting OK’d by DOJ
As expected. Now, on to the election. In the course of a lot of conversations yesterday, I've mentioned that District J seems really quiet on the campaign front. No candidate turned in a July 15 report with much over $5k. Mike Laster and Criselda Romero both have websites up. I'm not able to find one for Rodrigo Canedo. Romero has 84 "likes" and Laster has 258 friends and Canedo has 391 on Facebook as I type. Make of it what you will.

» Chron: Redistricting plan OK'd over Latino objections
The Chron version of events on the Harris County redistricting passage. The hearing yesterday was the first real opportunity for any kind of back & forth on either of the proposed maps. And in this case, the back & forth involved the Commissioners themselves. Suffice it to say, there was not a lot of respect shown toward those who were wondering why a community that represents over 40% Harris County are so impossible to draw an opportunity district for.

Latinos now are the largest ethnic group in Harris County, at 41 percent of the population.

"All we're asking is that we get fair representation," said Precinct 2 resident Elisa Gonzales, calling on the court to adopt an alternative map by political consultant Robert Jara and community activist Rey Guerra.

"So, I'm to give up my job to give you fair representation?" asked Commissioner Jerry Eversole, who would be drawn out of his precinct in the Guerra-Jara map.

"Whatever it takes," Gonzales said, as one man called "yes" from the back of the chamber.

Actually, according to my ears, more than one person said that. And the story omits Eversole's even ruder closing quip to Mrs. Gonzales.

And here's Miya Shay's report for KTRK ...

As far as a general reminder on the state and federal level lawsuits on redistricting, just go read anything and everything that Michael Li is blogging.

Lastly, even though it's not local to me, Dallas teacher Bill Bentzen deserves a nice round of applause for his work on redistricting to our north. The process Dallas is using strikes me as pretty interesting. At a minimum, it seems to be above and beyond the mere legal requirements for public input on the redistricting process. While there's been a lot of talk about how many of the Houston area rounds of redistricting were open and transparent, I'd add my voice to a contrary view. The rules may have been abided by, but public hearings were a minimal requirement ... not the be-all of transparency. I know of no single level of redistricting where the public was privy to any of the backroom negotiations that went on among incumbents, for instance. Wouldn't it be great to have, as a redistricting principle, a requirement that incumbents make their "wish lists" public, for instance. I'm sure there's a carrot/stick principle that can accompany it so that those requests can take precedence over other changes in maps that are often given convenient excuses for change that have no basis in reality. Bottom line is that for now, jurisdictions have a tendency to do the least amount that is legally asked of them. I think it's time to ask for more.


Defining “Opportunity” … again

» Chron: Latinos must work together to gain fair representation: Redistricting process provides opportunities (Yolanda Black Navarro)

A bit of the inside baseball going on with Houston City Council's new District J seeps into the Op-Ed pages of the Chronicle ...

Many of us took time to participate in council redistricting meetings, which were held throughout the city so that the public could voice its concerns regarding the process and the outcome. The Latino community continuously presented strong arguments that the additional seats be dedicated as Hispanic-opportunity districts. After a long process, the map approved by City Council offers a fair but not guaranteed opportunity for us all.

The new District J rejoined the Sharpstown and Gulfton communities. There are many challenges in this district for a Latino candidate. For instance, more than 50 percent of the Latino population of District J is of voting age, but the number of registered Latino voters is nowhere near that figure. With nonstop community work, most of us were confident that District J was winnable if we worked together, unified our efforts and built coalitions.

With all due, genuine respect for Mrs. Navarro, the challenge with considering District J a winnable opportunity for a Hispanic candidate isn't the disparity between population numbers and registered voters. That would be a fairly daunting voter registration drive. Instead, the disparity in the district is between total population counts and citizenship numbers. That alone takes District J's Hispanic population from 59% Voting Age Population to roughly 25% Citizen, Voting Age Population. That's not a voter registration effort ... this is something else. And it would literally take an act of Congress to see those numbers start to balance out. To simply state that the registered vote share is "nowhere near" the level of overall population is to gloss over the problem of calling the district a Hispanic opportunity district.

What the district is, I would argue, is a Southwest Houston opportunity district. You can review the demographics of the district here if you want. But I'd suggest that those outside of District J who wish to interject identity politics into the upcoming contest are going to be in for fairly harsh lesson. And it's not that I haven't done my darndest to paint the most accurate demographic and electoral picture of the district possible. But it really amazes me how willfully people tune that picture out.

They should try living here.


COH Redistricting: District J Turnout Demographics

See the District K post for disclaimers and caveats and so forth. These are the demographics for turnout in the new District J, which is my new district. As always, it's worth keeping the CVAP numbers in context when seeing the turnout numbers. In this case, the district is 25.3% Hispanic, 33.6% Anglo, 30.8% African-American, and 9.5% Asian. I think you can see from the data below why I think it's incorrect to call this a "Hispanic Opportunity District" in any form whatsoever. As if the fact that the guy who drew is doesn't characterize it as such isn't enough of a reason.

Already, there is one candidate in the race: Chriselda Romero, a staffer with Ed Gonzalez' office. I know a few other possibilities are looking it over and I expect there to be a sizable pool of candidates running when it's game time. A runoff is inevitable and I'd hope that a heightened interest in the district raises turnout in the runoff since this area typically gets totally forgotten during such elections.

District J – 2009 General          District J – 2009 Runoff      
------------------------------     -------------------------------
Hispanic           740  12.6%      Hispanic            549   10.3%
African American   739  12.6%      African American    741   14.0%
Asian              586  10.0%      Asian               610   11.5%
Arab-Muslim         43   0.7%      Arab-Muslim          33    0.6%
Jewish              50   0.9%      Jewish               45    0.8%
Other            3,673  62.6%      Other             3,298   62.2%
Middle-Eastern      22   0.4%      Middle-Eastern       20    0.4%
Greek                9   0.2%      Greek                 6    0.1%
Native-American      2   0.0%      Native-American       2    0.0%
Polynesian-Hawaiian  1   0.0%      Polynesian-Hawaiian   1    0.0%
------------------------------     -------------------------------
Total            5,865             Total             5,305   
District J – 2007 General          District J – 2007 Runoff      
------------------------------     -------------------------------
Hispanic           504  13.7%      Hispanic             76    8.3%
African American   513  13.9%      African American     76    8.3%
Asian              215   5.8%      Asian                32    3.5%
Arab-Muslim         21   0.6%      Arab-Muslim           2    0.2%
Jewish              35   1.0%      Jewish                9    1.0%
Other            2,377  64.6%      Other               725   78.8%
Middle-Eastern      12   0.3%            
Greek                3   0.1%            
Native-American      1   0.0%            
Polynesian-Hawaiian  1   0.0%            
------------------------------     -------------------------------
Total            3,682             Total               920   



COH Redistricting: District K Turnout Demographics

Ever wonder what the demographics of an election turnout look like? Here's the first in a series of some of the new City Council districts and what they look like in terms of who turns out in odd-numbered years.

I think it could be argued that for a majority-minority city such as Houston where Hispanics are the largest group, having elections in odd-numbered years might be viewed as a means of minimizing voter participation. Understandably, there's an argument to be made that if you were to hold city elections coinciding with Presidential elections, that a lot gets drowned out over the big important issues such as whether a Kenyan-born Communist wears enough flag pins on his lapel or whether the Panamanian-born free-marketer has totally lost his marbles based on his pick for Vice President. Hard to cut through the fog of that with some exciting chatter on drainage fees and whatnot.

Still, it's no accident that turnout behaves the way it does in November elections vs May elections; in even-numbered vs odd-numbered elections, and in Presidential vs Governor election cycles. If you want to see a maximum of participation, you simply can't beat holding an election alongside Presidential elections. And if you want to see a minimum of participation, hold them in May of odd-numbered years. Given the low levels of participation in some districts in Houston, it could be interesting to see how much turnout moves up due to a competitive runoff situation. That's certainly something I wouldn't mind seeing in my own District J, which we'll take a look at after this.

Whether you consider the turnout to be a function of when an election is held or not, here's the math to at least demonstrate the symptom. First up ... southwest Houston's District K (map). It's worth keeping the numbers below in the context of what the CVAP numbers are for the district. In this case, it's 51.1% African-American, 26.2% Anglo, 17.5% Hispanic, and 4.3% Asian. As you can see, the numbers change dramatically once the polls open.

The numbers are from a count done in the Voter Activation Network. Keep in mind that "Other" is actually a pretty useful starting point for "Anglo." There are other Anglo groups that should be added: Jewish & Greek, for instance. By nothing more than my own guesstimation, I don't believe the Jewish numbers at all. In precincts where I have a good feel for the raw numbers, I'm seeing way too low of a count. But rather than add them up into an Anglo count, I'm rolling it out raw. Since the district include some Jewish neighborhoods, it's relevant to know that those numbers aren't really as bad as this would indicate. As just a rough heuristic, I'd be inclined to say that those counts could easily be tripled, if not factored significantly higher.

The African-American numbers do seem fairly believable - something I wasn't much of a believer in from previous campaigns. There may be a point or two worth moving from "Other" and putting in the African-American count, but I don't think it's much more than that. Clearly, VAN has gotten better at A-A identification than in years past. Nice to see that.

District K – 2009 General            District K – 2009 Runoff      
--------------------------------     -------------------------------
Hispanic            1,113   6.5%     Hispanic             917   5.6%
African American    8,339  48.8%     African American   8,499  51.5%
Asian                 348   2.0%     Asian                314   1.9%
Arab-Muslim            39   0.2%     Arab-Muslim           44   0.3%
Jewish                211   1.2%     Jewish               171   1.0%
Other               6,981  40.8%     Other              6,503  39.4%
Middle-Eastern         18   0.1%     Middle-Eastern        18   0.1%
Greek                  22   0.1%     Greek                 28   0.2%
Native-American        15   0.1%     Native-American       12   0.1%
Polynesian-Hawaiian    11   0.1%     Polynesian-Hawaiian    8   0.0%
Unknown                 3   0.0%     Unknown                3   0.0%
-------------------------------      -------------------------------
Total              17,100            Total             16,517   
District K – 2007 General            District K – 2007 Runoff      
-------------------------------      -------------------------------
Hispanic             825   6.6%      Hispanic             204   5.0%
African American   6,563  52.6%      African American   2,285  56.4%
Asian                189   1.5%      Asian                 31   0.8%
Arab-Muslim           34   0.3%      Arab-Muslim           13   0.3%
Jewish               134   1.1%      Jewish                38   0.9%
Other              4,685  37.6%      Other              1,463  36.1%
Middle-Eastern        11   0.1%      Middle-Eastern         4   0.1%
Greek                 17   0.1%      Greek                  7   0.2%
Native-American       12   0.1%      Native-American        5   0.1%
Polynesian-Hawaiian    2   0.0%      Unknown                2   0.0%
Unknown                4   0.0%           
-------------------------------      -------------------------------
Total             12,476             Total              4,052 

In this case, it strikes me as interesting that African-American turnout rises as interest in the election goes down. This may be due, in part, to the fact that a sizable share of Anglo voters haven't had anywhere to go in the two cycles shown here. Nearly 2/3 of Anglo voters who turned out in the 2007 runoff appear to have not cast a vote for either the Jones-Trevino runoff or the District D runoff in that year.


COH Redistricting: More Election Math for Districts B, D, & K

Last week, I focused on a comparison of the new districts in southwest Houston. This time around, there's one holdover in the comparison of the African-American districts. That's District K. The reason is to demonstrate how it differs from the existing two districts (as they exist in the new map, that is). Bottom line: still a strong African-American district, but not quite as solid as the other two.

The easiest way to see this is to look at Gene Locke's showing in all three districts in the first round of the 2009 Mayor's race: 65% in B ... 57% in D ... 41% in K. The runoff showings are certainly a demonstration of how daunting other head-to-head contests might be for non-African-Americans. But the fact is that a wide-open field in the first round has some opportunity for a surprise or two. It would still take a lot to see an Anglo elected in the district and I certainly think it would be uphill for a conservative candidate of any variety to win in K. But depending on the scenario, a runoff could conceivably end up with a stronger non-African-American candidate. Wait and see who files and then wait for the votes to be cast, but the district certainly has some potential to come up with some entertaining results sometime this decade.

In this case, I didn't go through and add the relative strength to the candidate's citywide showing since the relevant view of this is to see how strong each district is for African-American candidates. Suffice it to say, I think they all over-perform their citywide percentages in each of these.

District B
2009 Mayor

                           General         Runoff
      Gene Locke .....  8,761 (65.3%) 11,110 (84.2%)
      Peter Brown ....  2,773 (20.7%)
      Annise Parker ..  1,314 ( 9.8%)  2,080 (15.8%)
      Roy Morales ....    497 ( 3.7%)


2007 At Large #5

                           General        Runoff
      Jolanda Jones .. 3,931 (41.7%)   2,213 (85.1%)
      Joe Trevino .... 1,911 (20.6%)     387 (14.9%)
      John Gibbs ..... 1,153 (12.2%)
      Marlon Barabin .   970 (10.3%)
      Jack Christie ..   368 ( 3.9%)
      Zaf Tahir ......   403 ( 4.3%)
      Tom Nixon ......   390 ( 4.1%)
      Ray Ramirez ....   278 ( 2.9%)

District D
2009 Mayor

                           General         Runoff
      Gene Locke ..... 10,472 (57.9%) 13,355 (78.4%)
      Peter Brown ....  3,849 (21.3%)
      Annise Parker ..  2,651 (14.7%)  3,689 (21.6%)
      Roy Morales ....  1,007 ( 5.6%)


2007 At Large #5

                           General        Runoff
      Jolanda Jones ..  6,470 (50.9%)   4,849 (87.3%)
      Joe Trevino ....  1,911 (15.0%)     703 (12.7%)
      John Gibbs .....  1,182 ( 9.3%)
      Marlon Barabin .  1,070 ( 8.4%)
      Zaf Tahir ......    656 ( 5.2%)
      Tom Nixon ......    576 ( 4.5%)
      Jack Christie ..    437 ( 3.4%)
      Ray Ramirez ....    398 ( 3.1%)

District K
2009 Mayor

                           General         Runoff
      Gene Locke .....  7,295 (41.2%)  10,424 (60.6%)
      Annise Parker ..  4,672 (26.4%)   6,783 (39.4%)
      Peter Brown ....  3,619 (20.5%)
      Roy Morales ....  1,976 (11.2%)


2007 At Large #5

                           General         Runoff
      Jolanda Jones ..  4,905 (42.3%)   2,610 (83.7%)
      Joe Trevino ....  1,860 (16.1%)     508 (16.3%)
      Zaf Tahir ......  1,212 (10.5%)
      Tom Nixon ......  1,088 ( 9.4%)
      John Gibbs .....    819 ( 7.1%)
      Jack Christie ..    777 ( 6.7%)
      Marlon Barabin .    562 ( 4.9%)
      Ray Ramirez ....    365 ( 3.2%)


Redistricting and Your Voting Precinct: Downtown Houston

Ever wonder why so many microscopic precincts exist throughout the county? Here's one example of how that happens. As the City of Houston and HISD are required to redistrict according to existing precinct lines, the State House, Senate, and State Board of Education are not. And considering how creative the State House map, in particular, got by going down to Census Block level ... well, here's the end product.

You can see that downtown will gain 2 more precincts. In particular, I find it somewhat amusing how the trifecta of new Harris County buildings are in two different precincts. In fact, if you walk from the Jones Plaza to the Harris County jail (not that I know why you would and least of all, not to judge you if you had to), you will have set foot in four different State House districts. Things get more creative with the impact on voting precincts from there.

As always in these maps, the solid color items are the current voting precincts. The white boundaries are all of the districts drawing maps these days. In this case, it includes the newly completed City Council districts and the proposed HISD trustee districts.


COH Redistricting: More Election Math for Districts F, J, & K

More election math here. In this installment, I've got the three southwest Houston districts. Since they're the ones that are the most different and/or new and that I'm familiar with, I thought I'd see what the numbers have to say in greater detail. In order to add some context, I've included the 2007 At Large 5 contest since it offers a glimpse into what an African-American vs Hispanic candidate contest might suggest about each district. As with the disclaimer for the 2009 election math, I should point out that the same method was done for 2007 and that there is another slight margin of error introduced since we're going further back in time. But since the margin is still minor, I think it's close enough. If someone else has a richer database to compare apples-to-apples with, by all means speak up.

The relevance of these numbers comes in comparing them to the candidate's showing in each round. For that reason, I've added a +/- next to their percentage showing in each district.

District F
2009 Mayor

                          General               Runoff
      Peter Brown ....  2,420 (28.8% / +4.4)
      Annise Parker ..  2,184 (26.0% / -4.5)  4,148 (51.6% / -1.2)
      Gene Locke .....  1,942 (23.1% / -2.8)  3,883 (48.4% / +1.2)
      Roy Morales ....  1,714 (20.4% / -0.2)


2007 At Large #5

                          General               Runoff
      Tom Nixon ......   884 (21.2% / +7.4)
      Jolanda Jones ..   830 (19.9% / -7.9)     217 (55.9% / -11.1)
      Joe Trevino ....   746 (17.9% / -1.0)     171 (44.1% / +11.1)
      Jack Christie ..   588 (14.1% / -0.6)
      Zaf Tahir ......   585 (14.0% / +3.4)
      John Gibbs .....   255 ( 6.1% / -0.9)
      Ray Ramirez ....   195 ( 4.7% / +0.3)
      Marlon Barabin .    84 ( 2.0% / -0.2)

In keeping with my suspicion that African-American candidates might have a shot at this district, I think both of these contests indicate some of that strength in different ways. That Locke did better than his citywide showing in the runoff is impressive. And while Jolanda underperformed in the district, it's worth noting that one key difference between the two contests is that this At Large contest was not a very high-information election. It's more telling that she still managed to win while the more informed runoff voters in the district likely had a better clue as to both candidate's race/ethnicity. I don't think either showing is indicative that an African-American candidate would be a guarantee to have a strong showing, but one who proves to be a strong candidate could certainly do well in this district.

District J
2009 Mayor

                          General               Runoff
      Annise Parker ..  1,907 (30.1% / -0.4)  3,095 (54.3% / +1.5)
      Peter Brown ....  1,753 (27.6% / +5.2)
      Gene Locke .....  1,320 (20.8% / -5.9)  2,601 (45.7% / -1.5)
      Roy Morales ....  1,240 (19.5% / -0.7)


2007 At Large #5

                          General               Runoff
      Jolanda Jones ..    854 (23.4% / -4.4)    264 (60.1% / -6.9)
      Joe Trevino ....    691 (18.9% /  0.0)    175 (39.9% / +6.9)
      Tom Nixon ......    678 (18.5% / +4.7)
      Jack Christie ..    480 (13.1% / -0.4)
      Zaf Tahir ......    465 (12.7% / +2.1)
      John Gibbs .....    240 ( 6.6% / -0.4)
      Ray Ramirez ....    167 ( 4.6% / +0.2)
      Marlon Barabin .     82 ( 2.2% / -1.8)

The Trevino runoff showing should be highlighted for those counting this as a Hispanic opportunity district. Yes, it was a low turnout, low information affair. But still. What's more interesting is the first round of the AL5 contest, where you begin to get a broader sense of how the multi-cultural aspect of this district could play out. That Tom Nixon did nearly 5 points better than his citywide showing is certainly one datapoint that conservatives from Sharpstown and other subdivisions still hold a bit of electoral strength. That the two Anglos (Nixon and Christie) won 31.6% combined is an amplification of that point.

District K

2009 Mayor

                          General               Runoff
      Gene Locke .....  7,295 (41.2% / +15.3)  10,424 (60.6% / +13.4)
      Annise Parker ..  4,672 (26.4% / - 4.1)   6,783 (39.4% / -13.4)
      Peter Brown ....  3,619 (20.5% / - 1.9)
      Roy Morales ....  1,976 (11.2% / - 9.0)


2007 At Large #5

                          General               Runoff
      Jolanda Jones ..  4,905 (42.3% / +14.5)   2,610 (83.7% / +16.7)
      Joe Trevino ....  1,860 (16.1% / - 2.8)     508 (16.3% / -16.7)
      Zaf Tahir ......  1,212 (10.5% / - 0.1)
      Tom Nixon ......  1,088 ( 9.4% / - 4.4)
      John Gibbs .....    819 ( 7.1% / + 0.1)
      Jack Christie ..    777 ( 6.7% / - 6.8)
      Marlon Barabin .    562 ( 4.9% / + 0.9)
      Ray Ramirez ....    365 ( 3.2% / )

To no surprise, the district shows a good overperformance for African-American candidates. In fact, as the first round of AL5 shows, all three African-American candidates overperform their citywide share. I'm not overly concerned that Jones' runoff showing against Trevino is indicative of any overpowering strength from the African-American community in the district. The district is 5-points less Afr-Am friendly on the Harris County side and the area is still undergoing some demographic shifts. And compared to the other two African-American districts, this is still the third-place district for that count. I'll have a comparison of the other two districts with this one over the weekend to highlight that point. For now, it may be true enough that the African-American community has a good hold on elections in this district. But it's one worth keeping an eye on for future changes.


COH Redistricting: About That New Map …

UPDATE 2.0: 2009 General Election and Runoff results for the Mayoral contest now added. One cavaet is that there are a different number of precincts and likely some precinct boundary changes between 2009 and 2010. Since the overall numerical differences in totals was small, I opted to merely match up precinct numbers and not account for more precise alterations. In the case of the General Election, it leads to 163 fewer votes cast. For the runoff, it leads to 25 fewer votes cast. I'm willing to call it close enough given that margin of error.

UPDATE: Now added RV and SSRV counts for each district, also. Although SSRV isn't the same thing as the entirety of Hispanic registered voters, it's listed under Hispanic in the charts below for the sake of relating it to the CVAP numbers.


Now that the mapping is done at City Council, here's my district-by-district snapshot combined with some relevant math from the districts.

One point that's worth re-iterating on the math side: the CVAP numbers below are a far rougher calculation on my part. That methodology is explained here. Similarly, in all but two of the districts, we see "the case of the mysteriously growing Anglos" from the Census' VAP counts to the CVAP estimates. Some of that may very well be due to my methodology of counting block groups for the CVAP totals. But there are other instances of this happening in situations where that source for error doesn't exist. Your backgrounder on that can be found here and here. Most of the differences seem within the margins of what I've seen in comparing apples-to-apples methodology. District E's jump of ~9000 new Anglos, however, strikes me as worth a closer look. As noted before, there were a high degree of split block groups that I had to account for in this district. But in any event, I don't think there's much doubt that the district is effectively controlled by Anglo voters.

In any event, the main point to take away from the different rows are that it is important to understand a district in terms of the overall population it serves and in terms of the electoral possibilities that exist within the district. Read, discuss, argue ... do with the information below as you wish.


       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
Tot   198,481  112,607 (56.7%)   25,430 (12.8%)   48,437 (24.4%)   9,334 ( 4.7%)
VAP   143,039   73,566 (51.4%)   18,255 (12.8%)   41,934 (29.3%)   7,607 ( 5.3%)
CVAP   85,005   21,480 (25.3%)   17,160 (20.2%)   41,584 (48.9%)   4,084 ( 4.8%)
RV     66,685   13,167 (19.8%)

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
GE-09  3,266 (23.9%)  3,986 (29.1%)   4,313 (31.5%)   1,933 (14.1%)  13,691   20.5%
RO-09                                 6,285 (58.4%)   4,473 (41.6%)  10,758

Fundamentally, this district doesn't change much at all. It's still centered primarily on Spring Branch and it's still an Anglo-dominated district in city elections. Granted, the district may change electorally. That was seen in the 2009 election which sent Brenda Stardig into a runoff with Lane Lewis. It'll be gradual, but this district could have a council election to watch in 2015.


       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
Tot   190,690   76,889 (40.3%)  101,681 (53.3%)    9,006 ( 4.7%)   1,231 ( 0.7%)
VAP   134,552   48,616 (36.1%)   75,861 (56.4%)    7,791 ( 5.8%)   1,026 ( 0.8%)
CVAP   97,105   17,649 (18.2%)   68,735 (70.8%)    9,089 ( 9.4%)   1,120 ( 1.2%)
RV     94,482   10,236 (10.8%)

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
GE-09  2,773 (20.7%)    497 ( 3.7%)   1,314 ( 9.8%)   8,761 (65.3%)  13,425   14.1%
RO-09                                 2,080 (15.8%)  11,110 (84.2%)  13,190

The district sheds some of it's Hispanic population in the middle of the bridge between Fifth Ward and Acres Homes. The district was effectively controlled by those voters before and it will be moreso in the future. Much like District A, it is essentially unchanged.


       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
Tot   198,845   48,797 (24.5%)   13,926 ( 7.0%)  119,328 (60.0%)  12,828 ( 6.5%)
VAP   166,860   36,240 (21.7%)   10,866 ( 6.5%)  105,820 (63.4%)  11,132 ( 6.7%)
CVAP  153,105   24,838 (16.2%)   11,896 ( 7.8%)  108,295 (70.7%)   6,398 ( 4.2%)
RV    120,880   12,136 (10.0%)

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
GE-09  6,308 (19.6%)  5,763 (17.9%)  16,390 (50.9%)   3,471 (10.8%)  32,178   26.7%
RO-09                                22,710 (78.2%)   6,321 (21.8%)  29,031

District C is the winner for "Most Altered" due to it starting off as District K in the original map proposed by the administration. Politically speaking, the district moves from being a moderate-to-conservative district to one that will likely be more reliably liberal over the course of the decade. That the district does not have an incumbent means that there should be a fairly high-stakes election contest to look forward to. The district encircles much of the Anglo Dem area of Harris County, picking up some small pockets of minority population stranded from District H and A.

The upcoming election contest will be highlighted by former State Rep. Ellen Cohen. But Cohen will have to become better known to voters north of I-10, where she's never run for office. And since the Heights is a-changing and has its own distinct brand of identity politics, it will be interesting to see how the two halves of the district get along now that they're thrown together. It could very well be that splits may emerge as they did in the current District H between the Heights and the near Northside. We could find out as early as November as candidates from each of the major areas in the district have already filed.


       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
Tot   192,932   50,562 (26.2%)  105,752 (54.8%)   23,420 (12.1%)  10,455 ( 5.4%)
VAP   144,726   32,749 (22.6%)   80,102 (55.4%)   21,058 (14.6%)   8,914 ( 6.2%)
CVAP  117,505   16,996 (14.5%)   76,385 (65.0%)   19,637 (16.7%)   3,928 ( 3.3%)
RV    107,384    9,151 ( 8.5%)

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
GE-09  3,849 (21.3%)  1,007 ( 5.6%)   2,651 (14.7%)  10,472 (57.9%)  18,089   16.8%
RO-09                                 3,689 (21.6%)  13,355 (78.4%)  17,044

As before, so into the future. District D remains a south-side African-American district. That's made marginally easier since it loses the more Anglo Montrose neighborhood and sheds some of the mixed Black/Brown areas to the southwest. The district definitely becomes more Sunnyside-centric than it was before. But the district only gains a few points in African-American population. That comes in spite of losing the more black/brown mixed area on the southwest side of town.

What it trades for that is the Myakawa Tail to the southeast. The Myakawa tail is the only inexplicable aspect of this district. That area is majority-Hispanic at both the Total Pop. and VAP level, with it clocking in at 41% Hispanic at the CVAP level. It's roughly a quarter of the district in terms of population. The difference doesn't seem like it's enough to alter an election in a significant way for this decade. But it will likely continue trending more Hispanic and possibly make more sense to attach to District I next decade.

By this time next decade, we may be looking at a District D that is under 50% African-American. The fact that many current African-American districts are of a total population plurality, CVAP majority is something that will ultimately hit Houston city council districts.


       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
Tot   197,870   67,058 (33.9%)   13,442 ( 6.8%)  101,797 (51.5%)  11,947 ( 6.0%)
VAP   143,017   42,951 (30.0%)    9,532 ( 6.7%)   79,306 (55.5%)   9,103 ( 6.4%)
CVAP  128,970   24,445 (19.3%)    8,170 ( 6.4%)   88,330 (69.6%)   6,600 ( 5.2%)
RV     99,692   13,642 (13.7%)

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
GE-09  4,886 (25.0%)  7,439 (38.0%)   5,101 (26.1%)   1,902 ( 9.7%)  19,581   19.5%
RO-09                                 8,789 (61.0%)   5,615 (39.0%)  14,404

Once more, the Kingwood-to-Clear Lake connection is left intact. Once more for the record, this is due to the fact that breaking the two up would pose VRA concerns as African-American voters in Fifth Ward and Hispanic voters in southeast Houston would be drowned out by Anglo voters if the two were split and attached to their nearest communities. There are only two ways this district ever becomes disconnected: either the city annexes enough new territory to require re-redistricting, or council goes to a 16 single-member district format.

As such, the district joins A and B as one of the more fundamentally unchanged districts from the last decade. Considering the high share of Anglo voters, it should remain as politically target-rich for conservative candidates as it always has.


       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
Tot   181,886   75,548 (41.5%)   44,718 (24.6%)   28,143 (15.5%)  29,723 (16.3%)
VAP   133,770   50,922 (38.1%)   31,932 (23.9%)   24,359 (18.2%)  24,068 (18.0%)
CVAP   85,490   18,310 (21.4%)   28,720 (33.6%)   24,860 (29.1%)  12,745 (14.9%)
RV     63,244    9,422 (14.9%)

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
GE-09  2,420 (28.8%)  1,714 (20.4%)   2,184 (26.0%)   1,942 (23.1%)   8,411   13.7%
RO-09                                 4,148 (51.6%)   3,883 (48.4%)   8,031

As Mayor Parker noted during the council passage of the redistricting plan, District F represents the biggest change in a district where the incumbent has to run for re-election. It's worth keeping that in mind since the district has changed in significant ways. See here for my earlier breakdown of how the new part of the district compares to the existing portion still in District F. The unfortunate reality of how 2 different Asian candidates have been elected to the current District F despite being only the third largest demographic group was due to the current F's status as a hollow district, with a large number of Hispanic constituents ineligible to vote. That changes now. The district is no longer as hollow as it was before. And the fact that the CVAP share of Asians is lower than both the VAP share is telling. Al Hoang could very well be the last Asian Council Member elected from District F as a result. And it's probably in his best interest to get to know as many Anglo civic activists north of Westheimer as possible.

Al should be fine for his own re-election, though - incumbents can always raise more money than challengers and are already proven as capable campaigners. After Al, however, is when things get interesting. Another point to remember about the district is that it's presently term-limited at the same time as the Mayor. That means an open contest, the 34% Afr-Am CVAP share becomes important. Whether an African-American candidate can emerge with enough crossover appeal to reach a majority or merely just plays the spoiler is a distinct possibility in future elections. The likelier scenario for the second half of the decade is that Anglos from either Royal Oaks or Briarmeadow realize the math of this district and a candidate emerges from one of those communities.


       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
Tot   198,015   33,464 (16.9%)   20,088 (10.1%)  120,365 (60.8%)  19,580 ( 9.9%)
VAP   160,524   24,888 (15.5%)   15,331 ( 9.6%)  101,513 (63.2%)  15,696 ( 9.8%)
CVAP  140,945   13,688 (10.1%)   11,930 ( 8.8%)  106,770 (78.4%)   7,250 ( 5.3%)
RV    110,936    5,666 ( 5.1%)

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
GE-09  6,914 (22.3%)  9,358 (30.2%)  10,259 (33.1%)   4,269 (13.8%)  31,022   27.9%
RO-09                                16,159 (66.5%)   8,133 (33.5%)  24,292

The Country Club-to-Tanglewood area isn't going to go anywhere anytime soon. So it remains as the most target-rich environment for conservative westside candidates. Worth putting in the back of your mind, however, is this bit of math: the current District G went from 66.5% Anglo to 50.9% Anglo between 2000 and 2010. This version of G starts off as 60.8%. While the demographic trends of the last decade were fueled by two phenomena that have since abated: immigration and the combination of new home construction with easy financing. It's still possible, however, that the quintessential GOP-friendly district that includes the most distinguished country club in the city will join the ranks of majority-minority by the end of the decade. That it could happen without impacting the electoral reality of the district as it continues to elect conservative Anglos is something that may be worth paying more attention to, also.


       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
Tot   181,670  129,000 (71.0%)   26,355 (14.5%)   23,814 (13.1%)   1,199 ( 0.7%)
VAP   131,825   87,301 (66.2%)   20,925 (15.9%)   21,619 (16.4%)   1,061 ( 0.8%)
CVAP   91,360   47,655 (52.2%)   18,923 (20.7%)   23,630 (25.9%)     784 ( 0.9%)
RV     70,019   31,821 (45.4%)

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
GE-09  2,256 (23.8%)  1,522 (16.0%)   3,219 (33.9%)   2,370 (25.0%)   9,491   13.9%
RO-09                                 4,769 (54.7%)   3,943 (45.3%)   8,712

The biggest change here is that District H loses the Heights. That's due to more than just the fact that going from 9 to 11 districts forces districts to shrink. It's also due to the need for a Hispanic district to lose a portion of Houston that's going through the inglorious process of re-honkification. Yeah, that phrase is gonna catch on.

The new District H also gains the remainder of Denver Harbor. Together with shedding the Heights, that means we likely won't see a re-run of a race like Welsh v Gonzalez in District H. It will be far more reliably Hispanic from here on out. The balance of voter strength still resides on the northside, so it's very likely that the district will continue to crank out candidates from Lindale Park. But Denver Harbor is a very well-organized area, so it will be worth watching to see how regional differences play out once the seat becomes open.


       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
Tot   180,912  139,534 (77.1%)   21,381 (11.8%)   14,683 ( 8.1%)   3,761 ( 2.1%)
VAP   127,144   93,558 (73.6%)   16,106 (12.7%)   13,333 (10.5%)   2,986 ( 2.4%)
CVAP   77,235   45,914 (59.4%)   14,970 (19.4%)   13,985 (18.1%)   1,813 ( 2.3%)
RV     61,035   29,112 (47.7%)

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
GE-09  1,881 (23.7%)  1,439 (18.1%)   2,250 (28.3%)   2,259 (28.4%)   7,948   13.2%
RO-09                                 3,655 (50.2%)   3,625 (49.8%)   7,280

The new district loses Denver Harbor as its most significant change. There's a bit of turf shaving outside of downtown, as well. But the district doesn't change in any fundamental way. It's easily the most Hispanic district in town, just with a power base that shifts slightly to the south.


       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
Tot   181,415  114,532 (63.1%)   32,215 (17.8%)   19,409 (10.7%)  12,946 ( 7.1%)
VAP   128,813   76,434 (59.3%)   23,174 (18.0%)   16,947 (13.2%)  10,728 ( 8.3%)
CVAP   55,150   13,939 (25.3%)   18,545 (33.6%)   16,995 (30.8%)   5,245 ( 9.5%)
RV     44,722    7,717 (17.3%)

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
GE-09  1,753 (27.6%)  1,240 (19.5%)   1,907 (30.1%)   1,320 (20.8%)   6,346   13.7%
RO-09                                 3,095 (54.3%)   2,601 (45.7%)   5,696

Color me conflicted. I don't have an objection to the creation of a new district that focuses primarily on my 'hood. But the district is being peddled as a "Hispanic opportunity district" when it really isn't. As the Chron's Op-Ed notes, the district's SSRV count is only 17.3%. The reason it grates on me is this - I get tired of being told that Hispanics don't vote. They do. So, when an Anglo is elected from this district, the outcome will feed into what I consider that false stereotype. Both the op-ed and the previously linked FWST article make the comparison to CD29 and the fact that Gene Green, an Anglo, gets elected out of what is technically a Hispanic district. There's a world of difference: CD29 has 56% Hispanic CVAP and 53% SSRV (reference). That's a far cry from the 25% and 17% in this district.

One interesting item to consider with this district is that while the current District F that covers much of this new district has been represented by two "parachute" candidates who did not reside in the district prior to running for office, the inability to pass Prop. 2 in the last election means that nobody will have time to drop into this district in time to run. See here for last month's overview of the district


       Total     Hispanic        Afr.-Am.           Anglo           Asian
Tot   196,735   71,677 (36.4%)   80,968 (41.2%)   29,499 (15.0%)  11,855 ( 6.0%)
VAP   142,157   46,128 (32.5%)   59,272 (41.7%)   25,179 (17.7%)   9,856 ( 6.9%)
CVAP  107,410   18,770 (17.5%)   54,860 (51.1%)   28,165 (26.2%)   4,655 ( 4.3%)
RV     75,070    9,123 (12.2%)

          Brown         Morales          Parker          Locke         TV      TO
GE-09  3,619 (20.5%)  1,976 (11.2%)   4,672 (26.4%)   7,295 (41.2%)  17,695   19.5%
RO-09                                 6,783 (39.4%)  10,424 (60.6%)  17,207

For once, the Fort Bend County portion of Houston has a bigger say in a council district election. While that area stands out as a prominent feature of the district, however, only 17% of the Voting Age Population resides in Fort Bend. What may be more noticable with this district over time is the way that the demographic trends among southwest Houston's African-American and Hispanic population affect the district's representation. By and large, the African-American population in Houston has stagnated in the last decade while the Hispanic population has grown for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is due to the new home construction boomlet along the city's southern edges. That boomlet is obviously cooling in recent years, but there is still open space to develop. For now, the African-American population in this district has the numbers and the political organization.

The CVAP numbers here are informative of how a district that is ostensible drawn to be nothing more than minority-majority will effectively become an African-American district. It's still early in the candidate-filing season, but HoustonWorks' Larry Green looks like a fairly solid fit among the early signees. Given the slim African-American majority in the CVAP counts, it's worth digging through Voter Registration data and comparing heavy-turnout and low-turnout elections to see if that majority is still present in each case. In particular, the low-turnout years would be interesting to see if the vote shares among African-Americans and Anglos changes significantly. The seat will obviously come up for the first time in a low-turnout cycle. So the research might be of rather immediate interest.


COH Redistricting: CVAP By Council District

Below are the Citizen Voting Age Population totals for each Houston City Council District.

A note on my methodology is in order before that, though. There are better ways to arrive at these numbers than the method I've done. My method is simply one that allows for a relatively quick means of determining the percentages for demographic groups listed below. I can't overstate enough that I'm doing this as a one-man show, without benefit of interns, students, or other minions willing to do work for me. Peer review is a good thing and if anyone else wants to take a crack at it, I'd love to see the numbers that result from that effort.

The 2005-09 CVAP counts are offered at the Census Block Group level at it's most granular data point. My means of listing which block groups are counted is obtained visually by overlaying the council district map on top of the CVAP by block group map. I then de-select and transcribe each individual block group for each district and then dump those lists into a database where a custom script does the counting.

The code has been checked and re-checked. The CVAP numbers, as previously noted, have several issues that should be kept in mind - they are estimates, they have a margin of error, they are based on smaller samples than in previous years, and there are return rate issues since they come from the American Community Survey rather than the Census forms. Many of those issues get massaged in putting together the estimates. But I don't pretend to offer the sum totals below as authoritative. The percentages that follow from those numbers, however, I argue are much more reliable.

In the process of visually determining which block groups should be counted, there are inevitably a few judgment calls that result. Block groups that straddle a council district are generally counted as follows: if the district being counted is drawn to favor a demographic group for VRA purposes, I tend to include block groups that have a majority of that demographic group and not count Anglo block groups that are split in order to determine what the best possible showing for that demographic group may be. In some cases, block groups are split fairly close to 50-50 by a border. In most cases, I alternate whether or not to count a block group on that basis. In cases where a block group only covers Limited Purpose Annexation, I err on the side of not counting that block group even though there may be a small amount of population within the LPA portion of the block group.

In many of the cases where there are splits, we're typically talking about 5 or so block groups out of 100 or more where a judgment call is needed. A significantly higher number were split in areas with a lot of LPA turf like District A and B. District E also contained a larger than normal number of judgment calls. In each case, there is no mistaking that District B is at or near the 70.8% African-American share listed below. Likewise, District E is unmistakable in its proximity to the 69.6% Anglo population listed below. District A, however, might be worth a closer look to see if it is precisely above or below 50% Anglo. It might be worth suggesting that District K could use a closer look to determine if the African-American population there is over 50% based on a more precise analysis. But given the lower number of judgment calls made on split block groups in the district, I'm a lot more confident in standing by the fact that District K is slightly over 50% African-American.

For a comparison, here are the totals that the Census Bureau provides for the entire City of Houston along with two of the most relevant counts from the report below.

Totals (Census Bureau)
Total CVAP ... 1,206,360
Hispanic CVAP ... 281,235

Totals (Greg's Count)
Total CVAP ... 1,139,280
Hispanic CVAP ... 263,684

That means my counts are 5.56% short of the total CVAP count and 6.24% short on the Hispanic CVAP count when compared to the definitive count done by the Census Bureau. In general, the shares for each demographic group don't change terribly much. If I get an opening in time sometime soon, as well as a block assignment file for the city, I may work with that to get a more refined count. But I'd argue that the percentages you see below are informative enough to draw any conclusions with.

Dist   CVAP   Anglo    Hisp  Afr-Am   Asian
A    85,005  41,584  21,480  17,160   4,084
              48.9%   25.3%   20.2%    4.8%
B    97,105   9,089  17,649  68,735   1,120
               9.4%   18.2%   70.8%    1.2%
C   153,105 108,295  24,838  11,896   6,398
              70.7%   16.2%    7.8%    4.2%
D   117,505  19,637  16,996  76,385   3,928
              16.7%   14.5%   65.0%    3.3%
E   128,970  88,330  24,445   8,170   6,600
              69.6%   19.3%    6.4%    5.2%
F    85,490  24,860  18,310  28,720  12,745
              29.1%   21.4%   33.6%   14.9%
G   140,945 106,770  13,688  11,930   7,250
              78.4%   10.1%    8.8%    5.3%
H    91,360  23,630  47,655  18,923     784
              25.9%   52.2%   20.7%    0.9%
I    77,235  13,985  45,914  14,970   1,813
              18.1%   59.4%   19.4%    2.3%
J    55,150  16,995  13,939  18,545   5,245
              30.8%   25.3%   33.6%    9.5%
K   107,410  28,165  18,770  54,860   4,655
              26.2%   17.5%   51.1%    4.3%


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