Earlier this morning, I attended my last candidate forum. The downtown event was put on by the iconic Homeowners-Taxpayers Association of Bexar County, which was founded 30 years ago by the legendary C.A. Stubbs and is currently headed by the estimable Bob Martin.
As suggested by the organization’s name, the HTA is in favor of smaller government and lower taxes. On its website (HTASA.org) it claims credit for defeating tax increases, winning tax decreases, preserving term limits, and preventing a pay increase for City Council members. These people are obviously kindred spirits to me.
Surprisingly, my campaign opponents failed to show up for the event. Although the event was not specific to District 8, there was an excellent crowd of 60 intensely motivated fiscal conservatives, something my opponents each claim to be. The strongest fiscal conservative on the current City Council, Carlton Soules, found time to attend, but Ron Nirenberg and Rolando Briones didn’t.
Each candidate was given three minutes to give a stump speech and then take a question or two. As I recently blogged, the stump-speech part of my campaign is getting much better. Almost like the experience of a stand-up comic, I have gradually been able to sense those passages (sound bites) that resonate and those that don’t. Of course, talking to these kindred spirits is like preaching to the choir. For the first time, my spiel was interrupted by applause.
One item that disappointed me was that there was a strong social-conservative current within the HTA. As a social libertarian, I oppose moral dictates from either the Religious Right or Secular Left and was hopeful that the HTA followed TEA Party principles by focusing on fiscal issues and not getting distracted with a social/moral agenda. But there was clearly a large contingent of advocates for the Religious Right as evidenced by an HTA Candidate Guide that revealed which candidates had sought the endorsement of the Stonewall Democrats, an organization of gay advocates in San Antonio. When one mayoral candidate denied that he had sought the Stonewall endorsement, a lady responded that they had photos proving that the scarlet-letter candidates had actually attended the Stonewall endorsement forum.
I previously blogged about my decision against seeking the Stonewall endorsement:
- I am probably going to decline an invitation from the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio (SDSA) to complete their questionnaire and attend their Candidate Forum this weekend on the 17th. Based on their questionnaire, the SDSA wants a candidate who will support new ordinances relating to discrimination based on “real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression” in public accommodations, housing, and city contracting. In another question, they want such an ordinance directed at all employers doing business in San Antonio. And of course, they want to know if I support the Council’s recent action to extend employees benefits to same-sex couples. While I am in favor of same-sex marriage, Texas doesn’t allow it and the Texas constitution might preclude the city from granting employee benefits to same-sex couples. Plus they want the City to create a Human Rights Commission and provide LGBT training to all city employees. Most of their positions are problematic, and it is probably not efficient for me at this time to determine if there are any that I can support, but I could decide to attend solely to learn more about their issues. I will be interested to see if my liberal opponent Ron Nirenberg chooses to pursue the SDSA endorsement.
Coincidentally, I had a conversation yesterday with my son Tommy about my failure to seek the Stonewall endorsement. Tommy has a co-worker friend who is active with the Stonewall group, and when Tommy told him that he should be supporting me for the Council, his friend responded that he wasn’t because I had blown off the Stonewall group by failing to respond to their questionnaire or attend their endorsing forum. I explained to Tommy why I hadn’t responded, but I started feeling guilty about my inaction. I now wish I had responded, but part of that thinking is based on having more time to think about the questions. At the time, many of these questions were new to me, and I needed time for the answers to percolate.
Two comments about my blog posting:
- I was prescient about the legality of same-sex employee benefits because recently the state’s Attorney General declared that cities granting such benefits violated the state’s constitution. Mayor Castro and the City Attorney are currently deciding what the city’s options are.
- When the Stonewall Democrats failed to endorse any candidate for District 8, I assumed that meant that Ron Nirenberg had decided to stay away, too, but the flyer distributed at the HTA forum today indicated that Nirenberg had unsuccessfully sought the endorsement. There must be more to that story.