Commentary: Two of the biggest stories of the past couple of weeks involve a city election and the unexpected death of a trans activist.
In a perfect world, we are all equal, no child goes to bed hungry, and our elected leaders are impeccable.
All too often, voters complain about having to choose between the lesser of two evils. Many people who helped to elect Donald Trump president did so because they just couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. “She’s too corrupt,” and “She does nothing but lie,” and “Her emails!” were frequent excuses for why we currently have a president about to be impeached for being the most corrupt president in history, including extortion of a foreign government, who has told over 12,000 lies since assuming office and is still using an unsecured phone to send threats and insults via Twitter.
More than half of Houston voters pulled the lever for someone other than incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner, forcing a runoff against high profile attorney Tony Buzbee on December 14. Final results showed Turner with 47 percent of the vote to Buzbee’s 28 percent. Coming in a third place in the field of 12 was Bill King with 14 percent of the vote and City Councilman Dwight Boykin was fourth with six percent.
Sylvester Turner barely won the mayor’s office in 2015 so it is no surprise that he failed to win a majority of the vote in a field as big as this one was. He is far from a perfect candidate as his record shows and Buzbee pointed out during the campaign.
Turner and Buzbee both launched negative televisions ads against each other, attacking each other’s character. A Turner ad accused the millionaire lawyer of donating to the former district attorney’s campaign in exchange for a dismissal of his drunken-driving case.
Another ad pointed out Buzbee’s relationship with the President. Buzbee hosted a fundraiser for Trump in 2016 and later gave $500,000 to Trump’s inauguration committee. “Tony Buzbee is one of Donald Trump’s biggest donors, and just like Trump, he’s trying to buy his way into power,” the ad narrator says. “Follow the money, and don’t let Tony Buzbee buy City Hall.”
A Buzbee ad draws into question Mayor Turner’s request for an intern position to be created. Reports indicated that Turner approved a $95,000-a-year airport internship and initially said he did not know the man who got the internship, despite evidence to the contrary. Buzbee has held up the revelation as Exhibit A of City Hall corruption, while Turner has defended the intern’s pay by arguing, among other things, that it is consistent with his credentials.
“The controversy quickly spilled on to the airwaves, where Buzbee aired an ad featuring apparently edited photos of Turner and the intern as well as purported ‘late-night texts’ between them. Buzbee claims to have ‘heavily redacted’ texts between the mayor and intern but has not made them public yet,” wrote TexasTribune.org.
So here we are, stuck with having to choose between two flawed candidates. One is a long-time ally of the LGBTQ community. The other throws money at right-wing causes and courts Donald Trump’s favor. You decide.
Nikki Araguz Loyd, a transgender artist and activist for causes
including marriage equality and HIV awareness, has died at age 44. Her husband,
Houston-based artist William Loyd, reported her death via a Facebook post. The
cause of death has not been revealed.
TheAdvocate.com wrote, “Araguz Loyd, who was born in California but spent much of her life in Texas, first became prominent in the 1990s, appearing on TV talk shows to discuss being transgender and the fact that she contracted HIV when she was raped as a youth. Her profile became higher in the next century.
“After the breakup of her first marriage, she met Thomas Araguz III, a trucker and volunteer firefighter in the small town of Wharton, Texas. They fell in love quickly and married in 2008, and he soon gave up his trucking job to be a full-time firefighter. Nikki started a magazine in Wharton and ran unsuccessfully for mayor. In 2010, she was widowed when Thomas died fighting a blaze at an egg production plant. “When she tried to claim a portion of his death benefits, his family fought her, claiming she wasn’t really his widow — that their marriage wasn’t valid because she had been assigned male at birth and hadn’t had gender-confirmation surgery by the time of their marriage, although she did shortly afterward. And Texas didn’t recognize same-sex marriages at the time. A Texas judge initially declared the marriage invalid, but after several years of court battles, an appeals court in 2015 ordered the first judge to reverse his ruling.