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Sunday, August 7, 2022

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Here are 9 important down-ballot elections


Students are less likely to vote without a polling location on campus.|Leah Nash/The Cougar

These candidates will have an impact on the community level. | Leah Nash/The Cougar

After a tense and painful campaign cycle, Election Day is two weeks away. Although it’s important to vote for the president, especially in this election, it’s important to know about the down-ballot candidates who will have more power over the day-to-day workings of the state of Texas.

The Cougar presents nine important non-presidential elections you should vote in.

Since ballots often vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, and even street to street, the candidates below represent the University of Houston (4800 Calhoun Rd.). This is meant to be a sample ballot fairly representative of Houston.

U.S. House of Representatives Texas District 18

With one of the largest populations in the country, Texas has 36 representatives in the House. District 18 covers most of inner Houston, including UH. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) has been 18’s representative since 1995, which is longer than some college students have been alive.

Sheila Jackson Lee (Incumbent): Lee is a big supporter of NASA and has sponsored legislation aimed at expanding government funding for space research. She is also an outspoken proponent of comprehensive immigration reform in Congress. Lee has supported legislation that aims to eliminate health disparities, HIV/AIDS research and comprehensive health insurance coverage.

Lori Bartley: The candidate’s website describes her as a “Frederick-Douglass Republican.” She is pro-life, saying she “will always support and defend laws that protect and uphold life.” She is fiscally conservative, but “will initiate legislation that allows us to invest time and energy into getting to the core issue of why an individual has become homeless and then provide them with the tools and support they need to be self-sufficient and productive members of society.”

Thomas Kleven: The Green Party candidate says he aligns with all 10 of the party’s key values, which include decentralization of power, “ecological wisdom” and feminist values. He has been a professor at TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law for 40 years.

Texas Railroad Commission

Despite its name, the Texas Railroad Commission regulates the oil and gas industry, natural gas utilities, pipeline safety, the natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline industry and surface coal and uranium mining in Texas. The commissioner’s power resonates in a city that is as concentrated on energy as Houston. The current chairman, David Porter, is not seeking re-election.

Grady Yarborough: The Democrat candidate garnered an endorsement from the Dallas Morning News for the runoff election in May. His self-funded campaign advocates temporarily shuttering wells to protect nearby communities. He also hopes to develop a plan to move Texans’ energy dependency to more renewable sources.

Wayne Christian: With an endorsement from Gov. Greg Abbott, Christian, a conservative Republican, is a former Texas state representative where he served as vice-chair of regulated industries and as a member of the Energy Resource Committee.

Mark Miller: The Dallas Morning News endorsed the Libertarian candidate for the general election. He is a retired petroleum engineer and believes in free markets and limited government.

Martina Salinas: The Green Party candidate wants to “back to its original intent to be the advocate for Texas Citizens and to hold the rights of Texans over rights of industry.”

Harris County District Attorney

This is the second time Democrat Kim Ogg and Republican Devon Anderson have faced off for the position. Anderson assumed the role after her husband, DA Mike Anderson, died in office in 2013. She was re-elected in 2014.

Kim Ogg: Ogg advocates more leniency on misdemeanor drug charges, has experience in gang prosecution and proposes harsher human trafficking and animal cruelty punishments.

Devon Anderson (Incumbent): Anderson is the current DA of Harris County. Her many high-profile cases concern human traffickers and money launderers.

Harris County Sheriff

Incumbent Ron Hickman served as constable for 14 years and was appointed to the sheriff’s office in 2015. The sheriff’s department is responsible for policing Harris County.

Ed Gonzalez: The Democratic candidate has earned an endorsement from the Houston Chronicle. He is also a former member of the Houston City Council and was appointed mayor pro tempore in 2012.

Ron Hickman (Incumbent): In his time in the constable’s office and as sheriff, the Republican candidate pioneered the use of technology and “progressive policing practices.”

Tax Assessor-Collector

While not a particularly exciting position, the tax-assessor collector calculates property tax rates in various school districts in Harris County. There aren’t many college students who own homes, but the tax assessor receives the money when you renew your vehicle tag  and is responsible for voter registration.

Ann Harris Bennett: The Democratic nominee’s platform revolves increased efficiency, inclusion of disenfranchised populations in elections and eliminating voter fraud at the polls.

Mike Sullivan (Incumbent): On his website, the Republican candidate says he employs a fiscally conservative approach to the county’s tax office. He was first elected as a city councilman in 2008 for Kingwood and Clear Lake.

Texas Supreme Court

This is the court of last resort for civil matters in the state of Texas and they have administrative control over the State Bar of Texas. This year, positions three, five and nine are up for election.

Currently, Republicans fill all nine positions. This election could change that.

Place 3

Mike Westergren, Democrat: Westergren ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. He has 15 years of experience as a district judge, four years as a justice of the peace and eight years as the Nueces County attorney.

Debra Lehrmann (Incumbent), Republican: Justice Lehrmann has served on the Supreme Court since 2010 and was a family law trial judge for 23 years.

Kathie Glass, Libertarian: Glass ran for governor in 2014, but lost to Abbott. She is pro-life and doesn’t believe abortion is justified in the case of rape or incest. Glass also advocates an abstinence-only sex education program in schools, although she has said she will support whatever sex education voters approve, and believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Rodolfo Rivera Muñoz, Green: San Antonio lawyer Muñoz bills himself as the “Indian” candidate. He seeks to educate people on the history of the native inhabitants of Texas.

Place 5

Dori Garza, Democrat: Garza hopes to use her position to reflect the changing demographics of the state.

Paul Green (Incumbent), Republican: Green has served as president of the San Antonio Bar Association, director of the State Bar of Texas and a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association.

Tom Oxford, Libertarian: Oxford ran for the court in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 and is an attorney with the law firm Waldman Smallwood.

Charles Waterbury, Green: Waterbury has been litigating since 1992.

Place 9

Savannah Robinson, Democrat: The Democratic nominee doesn’t have a campaign website and hasn’t raised or spent any money.

Eva Guzman (Incumbent), Republican: Guzman joined the Texas Supreme Court in 2009 and was the first Latina to sit on the court.

Jim Chisholm, Green: Chisholm unsuccessfully ran for the court in 2012 and 2014 and has his own practice in Houston.

Don Fulton, Libertarian: Fulton hopes to lessen punishments for DWIs and advocates traffic ticket reform and driving licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Ballot Measures

Proposition 1: Stemming from an archaic law, the sale of alcohol is still prohibited in a section of the Heights. Lifting the ban would allow liquor stores and an HEB to open in the Heights, something residents have greatly spoken out in support of.

A “yes” vote is in favor of lifting the ban on the sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption in the area formerly known as the City of Houston Heights.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Kathie Glass supports abstinence-only esex education, but Glass has said that she will support abstinence-only or more intensive sex education based on what voters approve. 

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