Race: Houston City Council District A
Name of candidates: Helena Brown (incumbent); Brenda Stardig (who Brown unseated two years ago), real estate broker; Ron Hale, business owner; Mike Knox, business owner; Amy Peck, district director for Sen. Dan Patrick.
Key issues in the race: Helena Brown, herself. She came out of nowhere to unseat Stardig in a runoff election (aka an election where almost nobody votes) and since then has made a name for herself with a steady stream of lone no votes on the city council and some very public feuds with Mayor Annise Parker and other city council members. Also, there's the whole question of whether she's a robot.
The implementation of a drainage fee system was an issue in the last election - Stardig voted for it and Brown says she ran against Stardig because she's against it - and they're still talking about it the second time around. Knox, Hale and Peck all mention fixing the flooding problems in Spring Branch as a part of their respective platforms.
Peck wants to be elected because she's worked for Patrick, we guess. Also to stop flooding, which is a problem in the area. Hale also has a platform focused on the flooding problem, keeping taxes low and improving the city website.
Why you should vote for:
Brown? Because she will vote against just about everything, including HIV and TB testing, homeless housing and park improvements, whether it impacts her district or not, and, seemingly, whether she understands it or not.
Stardig? Because she's had experience on the council and is focused on public safety (like getting rid of any bars that aren't "neighborly" and opposing all businesses that have anything to do with sex, according to her website) and supporting local law enforcement
Knox? He used to be a police officer (albeit one who tried to sue the chief of police) and he wants City Hall to treat everyone the same and believes that "less government is better government," according to his website.
Hale? He's got a fun name? Also, he wants to keep taxes low and fix the flooding problem but he also wants to get busy on recycling and improving the city website, according to his stated campaign platform. He's got a point on the website thing; it can definitely be difficult to navigate.
Peck? Her work with Patrick means she's got at least some political experience. Also, she's run for the seat before, having been defeated in 2009. Why you should vote against:
Brown? Because she seems crazy-pants crazy.
Stardig? Because she voted in favor of drainage fees, a move so unpopular she lost her seat.
Hale? Well, he's got that cool name, but that's about it.
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Knox? Other than having once been a cop, what else has he got to offer?
Peck? Have you been paying attention to anything Patrick says or does? Anyone responsible in anyway for him may not be the best choice for officeholder. Just sayin'.
Odds: It'll probably come down to Brown, Stardig and Knox, sparking a runoff, we're betting. Rice University Political Science Professor Mark Jones told KUHF that this is the only race where the incumbent has a fairly good chance of being voted out of office.
Spring Branch is an area dominated, voting-wise, by conservative Tea Partiers, but it's just possible even they've had enough of Brown's antics. Stardig has history on the council, which seems like it gives her a shot (name familiarity is always helpful as long as you aren't known for kicking puppies or something), and Knox may be the default for the conservative voting block of Spring Branch, by virtue of being neither Brown (crazy) or Stardig (a known quantity.) Peck could conceivably have a decent showing too, with the Dan Patrick association and all. It'll likely go to a runoff either way, with such a long list to choose from in the voting booth, and from there it'll be a crapshoot based on who gets out the vote.