On November 3 2020 at approximately 610 PM, at GAMA Event Center in Austin, Texas, I voted in the 2020 General Election. Here is how I voted.
President/Vice President: Howie Hawkins/Angela Walker (Green)
I haven’t gotten around to writing up why I refused for Democratic nominees Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and I probably never will. Suffice to say they are far, far too centrist, corporatist, and neoliberal for me to be comfortable casting my vote for them, regardless of who else is on the ballot. On the other hand, I agree with Hawkins on virtually every issue.
United States Senator: David B. Collins (Green)
This was a case where I could actually be okay with, albeit not enthusiastic about, casting my vote for the Democratic nominee, Mary “MJ” Hegar. But Collins’s positions are just so much stronger than Hegar’s weak sauce. Unlike my vote for President, this was a case where if the Green nominee wasn’t on the ballot, I would vote for the Democratic nominee.
United States Representative District 10: Mike Siegel (Democratic)
This was the vote I was most excited to cast; it was the fifth time I voted for Siegel over two election cycles. Siegel is actually a strong champion of liberal beliefs, values, and policy positions and a model Texas Democrat. I wish all Democrats running in Texas and across the country could be in the same mold as him.
Railroad Commissioner: Katija “Kat” Gruene (Green)
I had voted for Democratic nominee Chrysta Castañeda in the March and July primaries. Again this was a case where the Democratic nominee was okay and I could’ve voted for her in the absence of a better candidate on the ballot, but the Green nominee was just so much better. The main issue that separated them for me was a ban on fracking – Castañeda doesn’t support it and Gruene does.
Chief Justice, Supreme Court: Amy Clark Meachum (Democratic)
There wasn’t a whole lot of information to go off for this race (or any of the judicial ones really). Meachum sounded fine.
Justice, Supreme Court, Place 6 – Unexpired Term: Jane Bland (Republican)
So one of the biggest issues I could go off of for deciding on these judicial races was the issue of voters electing judges, which I’m against. In this case, I voted for Bland because, while she hasn’t said she opposes popularly electing judges, she at least supports the commission to study judicial selection, whereas Democratic nominee Kathy Cheng is blissfully supportive of the current system of electing partisan judges.
Justice, Supreme Court, Place 7: Staci Williams (Democratic)
Again, not a lot of information and Williams seemed fine.
Justice, Supreme Court, Place 8: Brett Busby (Republican)
As with Supreme Court Place 6, I voted for Busby because he at least supports the commission to study judicial selection, whereas Democratic nominee Gisela D. Triana is blissfully supportive of the current system of electing partisan judges. Another candidate in the race, Libertarian Tom Oxford, supports conflict of interest rules for elected judges, but on the other hand he seems completely dismissive of anti-bias training, so I ruled him out.
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 3: Elizabeth Davis Frizell (Democratic)
Frizell seemed fine.
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 4: Tina Clinton (Democratic)
Clinton seemed fine. (This Clinton, not the other two.)
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals Place 9: David Newell (Republican)
I voted for Newell because he supports medical treatment for non-dangerous mentally ill criminals, and increases in availability and standards of public defender representation for indigent defendants. His Democratic opponent Brandon Birmingham did not have as strong public statements on those issues.
Member, State Board of Education, District 10: Marsha Burnett-Webster (Democratic)
Burnett-Webster seemed fine. This was another race where I didn’t see a whole lot of important issues at stake.
State Representative District 49: Gina Hinojosa (Democratic)
Hinojosa has been my State Representative for almost my entire time in Austin so far and I haven’t had any cause for complaints.
Chief Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals District: Darlene Byrne (Democratic)
I defaulted to Byrne as the Democrat because there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of differences between her and Republican nominee Jeff Rose. They both supported partisan elections of judges, which was disappointing.
District Judge, 53rd Judicial District: Maria Cantú Hexsel (Democratic)
District Judge, 98th Judicial District: Rhonda Hurley (Democratic)
District Judge, 126th Judicial District: Aurora Martinez Jones (Democratic)
District Judge, 167th Judicial District: Dayna Blazey (Democratic)
District Judge, 200th Judicial District: Jessica Mangrum (Democratic)
District Judge, 345th Judicial District: Jan Soifer (Democratic)
District Judge, 353rd Judicial District: Madeleine Connor (Democratic)
District Judge, 390th Judicial District: Julie Kocurek (Democratic)
District Judge, 427th Judicial District: Tamara Needles (Democratic)
District Judge, 450th Judicial District: Brad Urrutia (Democratic)
District Judge, 460th Judicial District: Selena Alvarenga (Democratic)
For all these District Judge races except for the 460th Judicial District one, there was only one candidate running and they were a Democrat. Because they were Democrats, I just went ahead and voted for them without knowing who they really were (though I have actually met Maria Cantú Hexsel, running in the 53rd Judicial District), and then I voted for Democrat Selena Alvarenga in the contested 460th Judicial District race. I felt less guilty blindly voting based on party affiliation than I do for other races, because of how difficult it is to make a truly informed decision on judicial races – which is precisely one of the main reasons why I’m against judicial elections in the first place.
District Attorney, 53rd Judicial District: José Garza (Democratic)
I was proud to support Garza in the March and July primaries based on his positions on various criminal justice issues, including ending cash bail and curtailing civil asset forfeiture, and I was happy to vote for him again. Like Mike Siegel, Garza is a model of what a Democrat should be like.
County Judge – Unexpired Term: Andy Brown (Democratic)
Brown seemed to be a decent candidate to me.
County Court at Law No. 9: Kim Williams (Democratic)
Lacking sufficient knowledge to make an informed decision (in fact, lacking the knowledge that I would even be voting on this race until I was actually at the polling place), I defaulted to voting for the Democrat.
Sheriff: Sally Hernandez (Democratic)
Hernandez has been a decent Sheriff so far.
County Tax Assessor-Collector: Bruce Elfant (Democratic)
Insofar as there are even salient issues to be discussed for this office, Elfant did seem to be better on them.
Austin City Council, District 4: Greg Casar
Casar has been my City Council member for almost the entire time I’ve been in Austin so far and he’s been a strong voice on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged, and has been consistently calling for rent and eviction relief and greater funding of social services during this COVID-19 pandemic.
City of Austin Tax Rate Election, Proposition A: For
This was the proposition that would launch Project Connect, which would revitalize Capital Metro by adding badly needed light rail lines (including one that goes to the airport, thank god!) and new bus lines, among other major upgrades. It’s funny because one of these past years I’ve been in Austin (I forget which year it was), I was going to the airport through RideAustin (R.I.P.) and me and my driver got around to the subject of how hard it was to get to the airport because of the lack of rail servicing it, and the consequent reliance on ride-hailing services like RideAustin. And he was saying that it would actually be pretty easy to drill rail tunnels under Downtown Austin because of the local substrate being relatively soft limestone. Lo and behold, along comes this ballot proposition that would add new light rail tunnels under Downtown.
Quite frankly I get embarrassed as an Austinite that we don’t have a real rail system and especially one that connects to the airport. When outside visitors arrive at the airport they don’t have a handy rail line right there that they can just jump on, like what San Francisco’s and Atlanta’s airports have. Instead they have to call a ride-hail or take a bus (I think there’s just one bus line that provides frequent service to the airport).
Project Connect is what Austin has needed for years and it’s what should’ve been done years ago. And the arguments in opposition have been hilariously clumsy. “It’s too expensive!” “MORE taxes!!” “No one wants to ride in a train after having been through a pandemic!!!” “Just call an Uber instead!!!!” Come on. The strongest argument I saw in opposition to this was that poor people would have to leave their neighborhoods adjacent to the new rail lines, that were either removed altogether or gentrified. This proposition conscientiously addressed that through $300 million in “anti-displacement” funds, though I’m not totally sure if that will be enough money. But it’s a good start and I’m glad people are thinking about how to reconcile the equally vital needs that are good transportation and affordable housing.
I love Austin so much and it’s long past time Austin gets a public transportation system it needs and deserves.
City of Austin Bond Election, Proposition B: For
This was a proposition that would raise and direct money for infrastructure like roads, sidewalks, trails, drainage, and so on. As a big believer in more government spending on public infrastructure, of course I supported it.
Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees, District 3: Abstain
Kevin Foster was running unopposed and I had no information about him, not even what party he identifies with. So I abstained from voting for him.
Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees, At-Large Position 8: Abstain
There were four candidates running for this position and I didn’t know any of them from Adam. No party affiliation even to go off of. So I abstained from voting in this race.