State Representative Laura Thompson and Candidate Barbara Gervin-Hawkins square off ......
The 2016 election season has provided drama and entertainment worthy of a daytime Emmy.
Starting with the top of the ticket with the Presidential race that pits the consummate clown and misogynist Republican Donald Trump against Secretary of State and Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton is attempting to become the nation’s first female president, a feat in itself. Although the presidential race has overshadowed many of the down ballot races nationwide in what is considered a change election, there's a local race that has just as much drama and storylines as those for the land's highest office.
The race for House seat District 120, which was held by Democrat Ruth Jones McClendon for 30 years (1996-2016), pits Democratic candidate Barbara Hawkins against the incumbent, Independent Laura Thompson. Thompson won the Interim election to replace McClendon. This race is the quintessential David vs. Goliath.
In a recent debate held by the San Antonio Observer at the Claude W. Black Community Center, both candidates laid their claims as to why they are the people's candidate. Fielding a number of questions from the debate moderator and Observer Publisher, Stephanie Zarriello and an audience consisting of at least 100 community members, the candidates were each knowledgeable and well versed in the issues presented to them.
The debate opened up with a character question for each candidate. Laura Thompson was asked to explain allegations of fraud in her signature campaign to be on the ballot. She made it clear that although the allegations had merit, a state judge ruled in her favor that she had in fact done no wrong, subsequently allowing her to be on the ballot. One of many victories and obstacles the campaign faced leading up to the Thursday evening debate.
Barbara Hawkins in turn was then asked to explain her 2009 involvement in the infamous Crosspoint deal. It was alleged that while she was Zoning Commissioner, she and former District 2 City Councilwoman Sheila McNeil attempted to undermine a land purchase that they had an interest in themselves, a clear conflict of interest. Amid a barrage of tough questions from the moderator about this issue Barbara Hawkins was steadfast in her stance of she was acting in the best interest of the community. It
was an extremely impressive performance. Not once did she waver nor lose her composure.
Truly the behavior you'd expect from a candidate running for state office. Donald Trump could learn a thing or two from the Hawkins campaign. The night then eased into more traditional issues such as economic and social change,
gentrification, and the relationship between law enforcement and the community among others. Each candidate explained their positions with eloquent precision. As an impartial observer I was impressed with the genuine responses of both candidates. There was none of the traditional political pivoting away from the question as a tactic of avoidance nor was there the traditional political rhetoric that we hear in most debates. Both candidates tackled each question head on
with REAL answers and solutions.
And now the plot thickens. Unbeknownst to most with the exception of the Thompson campaign (it is unclear if the Hawkins campaign had any knowledge, if there was knowledge within their campaign they did not raise the issue during the debate) that Laura Thompson had an outstanding warrant for assault with bodily injury to a family member, a Class A misdemeanor stemming from a 2012 incident. The details of the incident itself are questionable at best. Lisa Jackson, a spokesperson for the Thompson campaign says she was contacted by a "concerned citizen" and
told her that she (Thompson) was going to be arrested Thursday, presumably at the debate.
This is a charge from 2012 that Rep. Thompson was unaware of, once she was made aware—because she is a law-abiding citizen — she went down immediately and turned herself in, Jackson said. At this point the timing of this 4 year old misdemeanor warrant does raise questions about the motivation. Funny that less than a week from the opening of early voting that a misdemeanor warrant surfaces. Oh the joys of politics.
The fascinating thing however is the resolve of Laura Thompson. Not only does she do the responsible thing as a citizen and turn herself in to authorities, but she does so hours before a debate that could make or break her future political ambitions. Watching her performance at the debate you'd never have known the external chaos she was facing. Under such extraneous circumstances she could have easily folded and succumbed to the pressure but no not Laura Thompson. Her campaign from its inception has toppled one obstacle after the next to get to this point, starting with her decision to run as an Independent. Thompson, 59, is the first independent to serve in the Texas Legislature in more than 50 years.
To declare a winner at the debate would be a manner of personal preference as in my opinion there was no clear cut winner. Each candidate brings forth their own style and experience that has made them successful in their respective personal and professional lives. It is these same qualities that will make each of these young women successful representatives of District 120.
It does bring to mind an unfortunate irony however. One of the greatest things about our country is the choices we have. Not only the choices we have in politics but choices in religion, economics, and many more. Unfortunately the irony is that we do HAVE to choose. I can say as an objective individual that it is truly a shame that we have to choose between 2 candidates that bring so much to the table in the name of democracy. When you contrast the 2 choices for the Presidential race, my point becomes evident. I believe either candidate will serve the District well and fill the shoes left by Ruth Jones McClendon admirably.
Press play and sit back and make YOUR decision: