Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Don Williams View on Undervoting

Below is an email sent to me by Don Williams a few days ago about undervoting and I asked him if he'd like me to post it.

I'm gonna write a response on why an undervote is the principled action to take, but I think Don makes a lot of valid points here.

Don Williams is a past president of the Black El Paso Democrats and member of the El Paso County Democratic Party Hall of Fame.

Here is Don's view:

I came across the May 19, 2017 LionStar Blog of the "under-voting" exchange between the Chair of the Paso del Norte Tejano Democrats, Mr. Eddie Holguin and the Chair of the State Democratic Party, the Honorable Gilberto Hinojosa.  Mr. Holguin made a claim that was attributed to me that is not accurate and I'd like to address the issue in full.

The El Paso Municipal Election is non-partisan.  There were a total of 8 mayoral candidates and all but two were democrats. Since the election is non-partisan and the candidates do not have to declare a political party, the local democratic party researched and reported the party affiliation and voting history of all of the candidates be they mayoral, city representative or judge.  As you may know, the election resulted in a run-off for the mayoral race between two Republicans.

Below is the email I sent to the State President of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, Gene Collins, Chairman Hinojosa and State Legislative Affairs Chairman, Glen Maxey.  I received answers and opinions from Collins and Maxey.  My request to them is below. No singular or concrete answer or opinion was given by either.

Of the two mayoral candidates, David Saucedo and Dee Margo, my concern was how to diminish the chances of the one I believed to be the most detrimental of the two.

Candidate David Saucedo is supported and advised by a local democratic official who approached me a few years ago and complained that I should not seek a third term as SDEC because I'm not Mexican and cannot adequately represent the culture and interests of the overwhelming majority of El Paso democrats.

David Saucedo entered the race and immediately attacked a number of municipal departments with his unfounded allegations of corruption and misdeeds.  Some of us in the Black community believe these attacks were geared toward Purchasing and Strategic Sourcing, Human Resources, Police, Interim Deputy City Manager of Public Safety and Support Services and Libraries because they are headed by African-Americans.

Mr. Saucedo has questionable life and governmental experiences and will inherit a city council that has overwhelmingly endorsed his opponent.

The other choice, Dee Margo, is a noted business leader with unparalleled community service, contributions and involvement. He has served as a civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army at Ft. Bliss; chairman of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce; elected to the Texas House of Representatives and served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee; appointed President of the EPISD Board of Managers that rescued and restored the district from corruption and other criminal activities committed by the Superintendent and other key administrators and teachers. Mr. Margo was appointed by the Texas Governor on the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Oversight Committee.

The leading democrat in the mayoral race came in third behind the two republicans. She, along with the outgoing  mayor, who is a democrat, immediately cast their support for Dee Margo.

In his second unsuccessful bid for state representative, Margo was endorsed by two democratic representatives in a partisan election.  I assisted in drafting the letters condemning their actions and requesting that they receive some appropriate actions or sanctions against them.  These letters were signed by the then County Democratic Party Chair and by the leaders of all of the active democratic party clubs and organizations.  I openly campaigned against Dee Margo on both occasions.

The advice and opinions of Gene Collins and Glen Maxey included that there is no impediment to a democrat voting for a Republican in a non-party designated, non-partisan election; especially, when only Republicans are candidates.  Under-voting is a legitimate option; but, it is not very effective if there are distinctions between the two candidates that are of immediate concern to the voters.  A no-vote emboldens the person that you are more against.

Maxey also recommended that the party could draft and present a resolution to the public espousing the attributes, characteristics, values and issues for people to use in assessing the candidates.

I have only publicly voiced my opinion and the ideas shared with me by Collins and Maxey on two separate occasions.  Mr. Holguin was not present on either occasion.  Under these circumstances he may have misunderstood or it was presented to him in a manner that caused him to misinterpret what he thought I said incorrectly.

As a child of the 50s and 60s growing up during the Civil Rights Movement in the South, voting was considered sacred and must not be taken for granted.  Unfortunately, the fight continues today with the onslaught of repressive voter suppression laws designed to limit our effectiveness at the ballot box.  Too many people have fought and died so that we can properly exercise this basic constitutional right.

Based on our dismal voting turn-out record in this last election (418, 665 eligible voters; 34,887 ballots cast and 8.33% turnout) I strongly recommend that we concentrate on voter turn-out instead of under-voting.

In my estimated 48 years of voter eligibility, I have never voted for a Republican in a partisan election. I have never knowingly voted for a Republican in a non-partisan election.  While I respect the differing opinions concerning this matter, circumstances can cause right-thinking people to reach different conclusions.

While under-voting is a legitimate political option, I feel that in this particular case, under-voting increases the chances of a candidate that does not have the best interests and common values of this community to be voted in as mayor. 

This upcoming run-off will be the first time in my life that I will knowingly vote for a Republican.  I am casting my vote for Dee Margo, Mayor of El Paso and I encourage you to do the same.  


Anonymous said...

Wow, what a well written and eloquent post.
I applaud Mr. Williams for being able to see that in this case it is not really a choice between "two evils" but a choice between a candidate that cares about El Paso as demonstrated through years of public service and volunteerism (Margo) and a social climber seeking to make a name for himself (the other guy.) Not all Republicans are created equal...
I can't believe that I am in a situation where I am choosing the best Republican to represent me in a town where Democratic viewpoints are the majority. Our frustration should not be used in undervoting, it should be used to call out the local Party leadership that let this happen.
Thank you for posting this opposing viewpoint.

Anonymous said...

As a conservative, I absolutely love the idea of undervoting whenever there is a weak Democratic candidate. Especially now that the municipal elections are being moved to November. I truly hope your message to undervote resonates with El Paso Democrats. Love your Blog by the way, even if it's a bit on the liberal side.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Don, under voting is not a good idea. If anything it encourages even more no voting in an area where people don't vote. Now, we have to have a Mayor to get us out this budgeting mess. So let's vote for the most likely to do a great job. In the end does it really matter about party affiliation if the elected gets the job done?

Anonymous said...

Ironic that Mr. Williams pulls out the race card but was all over people who supported the Hispanic Cultural Center. Now he's actively endorsing and publicly pandering to a Republican under the flimsiest of excuses despite years of his pronounced efforts to be a local Democratic Party leader. It's like all those crazies who ran around supporting that extremist Republican Barbara Carrasco woman. He certainly has every right to his opinions and to build glass houses, but he shouldn't cry when we point out his duplicity and fragil structure. He simply isn't someone to be taken seriously.

Marie Rose said...

I very appreciate Mr. Williams' articulate and intelligent explanation that brings to answer the very baffling question I went searching for on the 'net tonight after returning from my polling place.

I've just moved back to El Paso after many years wanderings away to care for my aging parents here, and I was startled to see that no name had an R or D, etc., next to it on my ballot. In all the cities I've voted in, I have never before seen a ballot that does not denote a candidate's party in order to help voters who do keep party principals in mind while voting decide for whom to cast their ballot.

I am a little torn about the practice. While it seems "great" for once not to kowtow to party politics in a nation so divided by partisanship (the incivility in this country today over politics is appalling), at the same time it feels a little too coy to say the least for candidates to keep their party affiliations so hidden - especially on the ballot during voting time where some voters really want/need the guidance.

When I asked a volunteer, I was told at my polling place that some other people had asked the same question, so I'm not alone in wondering this. I will be calling Elections Admin. Lisa Wise (915) 546-2154 about this issue on Monday because I'm still weighing the pros and cons of this practice.

I realize Mr. Williams' post was more to do with under voting vs. no voting -- and I appreciated very much his point that voting is a hard won right for some of us and no one should get to sanction us for campaigning/voting our conscious, whatever it may be. I found all his points to be respectfully couched and extremely enlightening to Democrat and Republican alike. I wish we could say the same for all such politically oriented posts these days.