|Sam Morgan, Shane Haggerty, Jose Placensia, Diana Ramos|
I'll paint with some broad strokes here for this post and get to the video later. The main event of the night was the District 4 race, which is the northeast seat that is soon to be vacated by City Rep Carl Robinson. Surprisingly, there wasn't a single D2 candidate in attendance.
If you recall, debates in the northeast are a lot of fun. Mostly because they reflect the northeast - raucous, a huge chip on their shoulder, loud, and a obnoxious. Basically like any night at a bar on Dyer - complete with people who may or may not be slightly intoxicated being loud and rude.
Mayoral Candidates -
Only two candidates showed up, but interestingly Republican candidate for Mayor Dee Margo didn't, but will be addressing the group next month on his own. Dee Margo at a Northeast Democrats meeting...THAT should be fun!
Wille Cager and Emma Acosta were the only two candidates that showed up, so for those of you keeping score at home, the tallest and the shortest candidates in the field.
Nothing exciting. It was basically everyone's first candidate outing for this year's election cycle so they almost all had to work on their game. Emma's voice kept quivering and she makes the argument that she's the only candidate that has been working for the people over the last 8 years. Problem is, Antonio Williams argued for Emma's candidacy better than Emma did. And apparently Dora came up with this years' little rhyming slogan for her candidate... remember she's the one who came up with Chente por la gente, and she had two for herself - Voten por Dora su servidora and another one she jokingly told me once, Don't vote for caca, vote for Oaxaca. So if you're wondering, its this:
Cager is an El Paso treasure and a great guy. Really focused on the kids. The guy literally helped but El Paso on the map. But he's not a serious mayoral candidate. Every answer contained the phrases "plain and simple", "smooth", and "for the kids".
You didn't miss anything with these two candidates.
D3 in the NE
I don't know why any of them showed up to a debate in a part of town where no one can vote for them, but it was a pretty clear result. Antonio Williams wiped the floor with them. He took them to the deep end of the policy pool and drowned them. He's the only candidate that spoke about policy and he called out Jaime Barceleau for basically having nothing but general statements and board platitudes. I don't agree with some of Williams policies, but I haven't seen a candidate do a better job of articulating his position and making it connect to voters in a long time. Wait for the video on this one.
The first words out of my mouth were "what the hell"?
I don't know what got into Sam Morgan, but he wasn't the same guy I know. Seems like he cut off his dreads and became a different vato. There was a palpable tone with him that was not the normal, likable, approachable, and really cool guy I always knew. I don't know if its the Chris Hernandez influence, but Sam's tone was really sharp. He's been that way in his social media lately too. He seemed almost annoyed that he had opponents.
Watch the faces he makes when his opponents speak when I post the video.
He's straight up annoyed.
Which I understand, he was a handful of votes from winning last time and so I can understand the feeling like this is his time.
But he spent most of the debate insulting his opponents, talking about his security clearance and his book, and almost no time talking about policy. He went on a pretty strong rant against Diana Ramos for running because she basically just moved to the district and he kept alluding to who was behind her candidacy.
I think they fact that she just moved to the district and is already trying to represent a district she has no roots in is absolutely a legitimate argument against her, but I think people were paying much more attention to how he was saying things as opposed to what he was saying.
He has to understand its his job to communicate better. The audience wasn't confusing passion for anger. He was genuinely pretty pissed. Morgan has gotta tighten the screws, adjust his fire, and he'll be fine. He bolo'd this time, but he's got another chance to qualify. (Morgan and most vets get what I'm saying).
Haggerty did what Haggerty always does, he gave an even-handed description for what he's done for the Northeast as the President of YISD. At one point, Morgan actually changed his tone from he's-just-a-guy-running-on-a-Haggerty-name, to giving Haggerty "props" for what he's done.
But Haggerty looks really stiff and uncomfortable. That might have been first-fight jitters or the way Morgan started the night off, but he looked noticeably nervous. He's got to find a way to be more memorable to voters. Morgan has the bigger personality, so Haggerty has to find his sweet spot because he's the more qualified of the two candidates. He's gotta communicate that and get voters to remember it.
I like his politics. He's really liberal. Took guts for a Green Party guy to show up to Democratic Party event, and he's got pretty good sense of humor. He trolled me trolling him on Twitter and it was hilarious.
He's focused on issues, but he doesn't connect well. I think its delivery. He seems timid and if you want to be a leader, you can't be timid. And its hard for him because the other two guys in the race have years of leadership experience and with one being a Green Beret and one being a Fire Fighter and he's a chess teacher, well its a different approach to say the least. But his strength is gonna be his team and knocking on doors.
For someone being recruited and supported by the Congressman, she's really pretty unimpressive. I think she's going to come in a very distant third, but not because she's not likeable. She's very nice, dynamic, polite, and an O-K speaker, but she's in a field were she doesn't match the experience level. Based on her team, I was expecting substance and it just didn't seem like it was there. It might be because Morgan came after her so harshly and I wouldn't blame her if it rattled her a little bit because it was pretty excessive, even for the Northeast. She was put not the defensive from the start because it was Morgan's home field.
So I'm gonna withhold judgement and chalk it up to her being nervous and it being the first time out. I'd like to see her go on the offensive next time with policy. She should take the fight to the other candidates and see who can have a deep policy conversation. She might be able to expose some weaknesses in her opponents.
But that whole just moving to the area thing is going to be a really tough hill to climb. The Northeast has the biggest chip on its shoulder and they really don't like outsiders.
I tried to interview all the candidates but I wasn't able to get one with Ramos despite the fact that she agreed to. I tried to get her attention to interview her but was unable to and I had to leave.
Okay I didn't stay for the whole thing and the Northeast Democrats have to run a better forum. It dragged on for too long and I don't know if anyone was actually keeping time. They all just seemed to go on and on and on and on and on...
But from what I saw - and I need to see more of them before I can give any really good analysis - was that the candidates that stood out to me were Morales and Anchondo.
I need to hear more of the candidates and I'm sure I will so I'll probably dedicate a post to just them.