First, the winners are the people of District 2 who will have an actual voice on council that they haven't had since before Christmas last year.
Good for them.
Before I go further I want to explain something - Jim Tolbert's election was a mandate. There will be people who tell you that the turnout was so low that you can't call it a mandate, or that only so many people voted and that is hardly a mandate.
Those people are stupid.
Voters that don't participate are sending the signal that they are fine with whatever decision is made by the people that do vote. If there weren't, they would vote themselves.
If you wanted to change the status quo or felt so strongly about who should win, then you should've participated. If you could vote and you didn't, frankly you don't matter.
Okay, lets go to winners:
Obviously, Team Tolbert. Call it vindication, call it a comeback, call it whatever you want - Jim Tolbert finally won. And he did so in convincing fashion, pulling nearly 60% of the vote in a race with 7 opponents. That is a big deal.
Friends and family alone, especially in a race with small turnout, should be enough to force a run-off, but that wasn't the case. Now the guy who has been the most vocal resident of District 2 over the last few years takes a trip to city hall.
Next, Susie Byrd. She was Tolbert's main campaign advisor and did what people expect her to do, win.
And finally Chris Hernandez. He finally got his first notable win. If adversity breeds character than he should have no shortness of character to go along with his confidence. Hernandez has been a bit like Charlie Brown for the last couple of years with Lucy always pulling the ball away at the last second. Before this weekend's win his claim to fame was an almost-win for Josh Dagda and being replaced on Stout's campaign. He did some OFA and Battleground Texas work but no one really cares about that work because its not related to a campaign, so its not something you can really take credit for.
But now, now he's got a legit win. Yeah he had a head start, yes he was facing inferior competition, and yes he had the advantage of more money and name ID in the district - but he was facing a BIG field of candidates. Hernandez crafted a good field program and did the thing that matters most, he executed.
Its not sexy, its mostly grunt work, and goes largely unnoticed, but its a specific skill set. Anyone who thinks its easy only thinks that because they have never done it. When everyone said it would be a run-off, including Yours Truly, Hernandez said they would win it without a run-off and they did. Yeah he loves to talk the talk, but this time he not only talked the talk, he walked the walk.
The final winner is an Honorable Mention to Dolores Baca. She exceeded everyone's expectations and was breathing down CDA's neck for most of the evening. At one point fewer than 50 votes separated the two before CDA finally pulled away a bit.
There's no way to spin it, as I wrote weeks ago, CDA's liability was her campaign team. They not only failed to meet expectations, they did so in spectacular fashion.
A younger, well-known Chicana with massive street cred in terms of activism - who literally went from Homeless to Harvard - should've performed much better than a lousy 15% in a Latino majority district in a border community.
The fact that she didn't is a reflection of her campaign team.
Let me take a moment and address one important thing that her campaign team didn't have control over - her voting record. More accurately, lack thereof. Its possible they didn't know about it until it was too late to do anything about it, but it was certainly a big factor. But truth be told, she never got hit on it, which is why you can still blame her team. No media coverage was done on it, no negative message was leveraged against her for it. It basically came up in a debate once and that was about it. The only people that knew about it were people who were at the debate and people who read about it in my blog. In other words, not many. Since there was no one telling them about it, the average voter probably had no clue she had never voted in the district before. That isn't why they chose not to support her.
Is it important? Yes.
Do I think the people that did know about her lack of voting record forgave her and voted for her anyway? No.
But its highly unlikely that most people that went to vote even knew about it.
So this list has to start with Ernesto Bustillos, Josh Dagda, Ruby Ramirez, and Jessica Yañez. Struggling to reach just 15% with a fundraising edge in the last report and the endorsement of the El Paso Times and a laundry list of community leaders is inexcusable from a campaign perspective.
I know they are running a couple of other campaigns right now for the run-off and those candidates are probably really concerned about their ability to get the job done considering Saturday night's performance.
As well they should be.
For his part Bustillos has begun this inexplicable narrative that 74% of the district had their voices heard on Election Day.
How does he arrive at that number?
Well for some reason he adds Tolbert's total to that of CDA's 15%. Why? Because he said that when he spoke to voters, she was their second choice?
What the hell?
Following that logic, Donald Trump would be my second choice to whomever is the Democratic nominee in November? Are you fucking kidding me Bustillos?
The campaign team's job was to protect her from doing dumb shit like getting in a ring and sporting a lucha libre mask while she's trying to get people to take her seriously.
Or hey, how about a better GOTV plan than a party the night before the election or having your candidate ride around on the back of a motorcycle in Manhattan Heights yelling in to a bullhorn?
Yes, that really happened.
Noe & Acosta
Other losers in this election include City Reps Noe and Acosta. They have been the loudest and staunchest supporters of former City Rep Romero. They were the ones pushing for Gonzalez's raise, they were the ones that defended Romero when he got in trouble, and they were the ones trying to protect his salary from tax payers even though he had resigned.
They now have a colleague who is an absolute adversary to those previous positions. And it'll be interesting to watch Noe try to push him around or Dora try to start scheming against him.
Hector Montes & AFSCME Local 59
I would struggle to come up with a bigger liability to a union than Hector Montes. Especially a union who's success depends largely on their ability to work with policy makers. AFSCME apparently didn't learn in the last round of elections that Montes doesn't know what he's doing when it comes to cultivating political relationships on behalf of membership.
Its sad really because the employees deserve a voice with credibility, not someone who is universally looked at as a joke.
A little joke, but still a joke.
It would be one thing if the guy's relationships with council were strained or non-existent because he lacked the skill set to cultivate them. But in truth, its because Montes actually has declared jihad on some members of council.
He often tries to operate from the shadows, which is understandable because no one can stand the guy and his ego that clearly overcompensates for his SHORT comings.
The problem with that from a union perspective is the strained relationships you have if your guy goes all out, in the name of your union (which he runs through the mud every time he goes up and speaks during public comment) when he ultimately loses the election (on your behalf).
Watch how he not only co-mingles the union with his politics but he slowly escalates his rhetoric as steadily becomes unhinged during the course of a campaign. It starts off harmless and cordial and he very quickly devolves into insulting current and future members of council.
How much clout do you think your union has when he does stuff like that?
The answer is none.
My favorite part is where he says his neighbors generally agree with him on local issues. Thats funny because the precinct Montes lives in was Tolbert's second-highest performing precinct by percentage and yielded the most votes for Tolbert of any precinct over all.
Clearly Montes is even out of touch with his own neighbors.
Whoever it was that pushed for CDA to get the endorsement from the Times. They should've checked her voting record first.
One name you will see that I didn't list as a loser in this election is CDA herself.
Why? Because she didn't fail because of who she is or her work. She's smart, passionate, and one of the few people in the world that give a shit about their community.
If there is any criticism directed at her its her voting record and the fact that she flat-out chose the wrong team.