Thursday, April 28, 2016

D2 Debate Analysis

Well for whatever reason, the 40+ minute segment of the District 2 debate held by the Progressive Democrats of El Paso is taking forever for me to upload to YouTube. I started loading that thing this morning and it still says it has 391 minutes today. Must be my connection.

In the meantime, here is some analysis of the debate.

I'll cut right to the chase, anyone who watched the debate knows that Jim Tolbert and Cemelli de Aztlán were head and shoulders above the rest of the candidates in terms of preparedness.

The big takeaway from the debate was how little most of the candidates for the office know about the job. Many of them had no clue about questions relating to issues before the city council now. Embarrassingly so.

So the quick rundown on the other candidates is that David Nevarez is a nice guy, but doesn't have the requisite knowledge of council or the job. You'd think he would because he's on a committee that he says he "founded". Not sure he can really say he "founded" the committee but he is at least a founding member.

But he doesn't know the first thing about the budget situation at city hall. Which was shocking. Neither did Dolores Baca. She's a very sweet lady and I think her heart is in the right place but she isn't prepared for the office. Gordon Thatcher is probably the most-ready of the second tier candidates but he seems geared to take on making cuts at the city but I don't think he understands the intricacies of city government. He mentioned praying a lot, but when I asked litmus questions like legalization of marijuana and continuing of domestic partner benefits, he said yes to both.

But he's never run before and he along with another candidate said he wasn't taking any campaign contributions. Which means they have no clue how to run a campaign and that is why they are second tier candidates.

So Tolbert V De Aztlán:

Lets start with CDA and her strengths. She's smart and presents well. She knows when to turn on the passion to drive home a point. Her presentation style and overall package as a candidate is something that could inspire voters. She's young, progressive and educated. She scored well when talking about connecting communities. She is extremely disciplined about staying on message.

Her weakness is substance and temperament. When you watch the video you'll see she's the only one that went up with a bunch of notes and props. Maybe that is because she's used to giving presentations and that is a comfort zone thing, but she comes off as very "scripted". That was the word used by some folks that attended the debate that I spoke with after.

That is her campaign team's issue. Being scripted is not the same thing as being prepared. And that was evident once you peeled back the layers of the soaring rhetoric. CDA had a strategy of sticking to a sweet spot of community advocacy and every chance she got, she was very disciplined about doing so, she would bring every question back to that message.

The problem is that it exposed a very big weakness - CDA doesn't do well when she's taken off script. And whats worse about it, her demeanor becomes pretty defensive when that is done. You'll see what I mean in the video, but there were times when asked a question, CDA would go off on soaring rhetoric that almost always included the word "community" and was punctuated by some cause or organization she was involved with. Again, very disciplined, but when cornered to answer a question or be specific, she either had no answers or because defensive.

Her team should have spent less time scripting her and more time preparing her.

The soaring rhetoric that lacked content reminded me of Hector H. Lopez's mayoral bid.

I could've framed the question about her lack of a voting record in a different way, but I read the questions as it was framed from a card submitted by an audience member which was framed in a more friendly way and it allowed her to say that she was apologetic about her lack of a voting record and then use voteria as a floatation device to escape the Titanic.

I can't help but wonder if the first time she was confronted about her voting record, rather lack thereof, would've been at the debate and not in a blog how she would've reacted.

But her team had time to script an answer. But frankly, as I mentioned, there isn't enough bullshit in all of Clint to really deal with the fact that she hasn't voted much.

She mentioned voteria - a program she is spearheading that attempts to increase voter participation - but I think that actually underscores just how bad her lack of a voting record really is. There is a big credibility deficit with the electorate when you are asking them to vote for you but you really haven't been an active participant in the voting process.

Here's a screenshot of her voting history. As you can see, not much to speak of.

But there is an even more interesting aspect of her voting history that one needs to consider. In her response to the lack of voting history, particularly never having voted in a single municipal election, CDA cited her work with voteria for the last year and a half.

Admirable work, but in that year and a half that she was doing voteria and not voting, she missed the following elections:

The Gubernatorial Elections
The EPISD Tax Ratification Election
Constitutional Amendments Election

And drum roll please....

The Fire Fighter Proposition Election

All elections matter and are important. But the fact that she's a parent with school-aged children, especially in light of the issues EPISD has been facing that appear to have targeted poor, Latino students, in the area she wants to represent, is pretty inexcusable.

But Joe Tellez needs to talk to his PAC board and ask them some serious questions. This is yet another screw up by a union.

In her closing remarks, Cemelli essentially used the time to list all the organizations and people that have endorsed her. One of them was the Fire Fighters.

It makes no sense to me that a union would endorse someone who we know with absolute certainty didn't vote in favor of their ballot item.

Big, big, big boo-boo.

CDA and I spoke after the debate and I asked her why her voting history is so bad and she mentioned being "turned-away" twice, but I'm not sure you can actually prove that. Although she later said she was turned away because she just simply didn't register to vote on time.

Another candidate was actually removed form the ballot earlier this year for that problem. So not being eligible to vote because you failed to register to vote on time isn't the same as being "turned-away". That answer is a little disingenuous.

She also indicate that she didn't vote because she was in Boston for school. Which spurred my follow up question of why didn't she vote absentee. She said she didn't know she could.

You're advocating for greater voter participation for a year and a half and you don't know registration deadlines or that you can vote absentee?

Tolbert on the other hand showed a depth of knowledge in his answers at the debate. He was clearly the candidate most-ready to step into the job. He has been getting some heat for an answer he gave about a livable wage at another forum, so I asked him about that and he was on record as stating he supports a $15/hr minimum wage and he alluded to the fact that he supported a presidential candidate that was pushing for the new figure.

Where other candidates danced around questions they didn't know the answer to, Tolbert gave straight common-sense answers that were concise and clear. No soaring rhetoric, no fluff, just answers to the questions.

Tolbert was "Mr. Nice Guy" most of the debate. It wasn't until his closing remarks that he showed a little teeth and went after his opponent, actually pointing at CDA and talking about having no municipal election voting history and CDA only living in the district for 1 year.

CDA clarified with me after the debate that she has actually lived in the district longer than a year, in fact several years, but many of those were when she was a minor.

Other than the fact that Dora Oaxaca attended the debate and ate food but didn't buy a food ticket, the only other real notable thing about the city council debate was CDA channeling her inner Jeb Bush. She kept asking the audience to clap for her.

Thats all for now, the video now says it has 334 minutes to go...


Anonymous said...

I don't know what I would fine more offensive, the comparison to J Bush or the comparison to Hector H!

Alfonso Gutierrez said...

Alfonso gutierrez when a person picks a candidate and endorses such . Being bias, so Mr. Tolbert is perfect no issues like being against roads s freeways for progress to protect the dirty enviroment el paso area is

Anonymous said...

I'm an absentee voter and managed to register and vote. Ms Atzlan should have known this. I was getting shot at in Middle East but I still managed to register and vote. No excuse, if an active duty service member can do it on the other side of the world, a Harvard or whatever school she can from can do it.