Thursday, February 11, 2010

Letter to the Editor of the Austin Chronicle on their endorsements

It seems that the Chronicle is not fully informed on the issues that Justices of the Peace face. In your endorsement of Ms. Williams (JP 1) you reference her experience in civil litigation and her experience as an associate municipal judge, but make no reference to whether she has a grasp of the issues facing the office for which she is running.

Meanwhile Daniel’s experience is belittled, but he is the only candidate who actually works for Travis County, knows the idiosyncratic inner workings of the odd beast which is county government, knows how the county budget process works, and understands (as a former Commissioners Court staffer) how to foster cooperation between the counties many players. Your endorsement references a statement from his website where he refers to “being a young lawyer among ‘entrenched bureaucrats.’” It is unfortunate that this quote is left dangling there. The point, which is completed in the next sentence is: “I have made a place for myself as someone who gets things done, success that I owe to being able to think outside the box, by having a solid knowledge of the law and the good humor to overcome old-school beliefs to get my ideas heard.”

On the campaign trail Daniel routinely discusses the need for technological innovation in an office that is regarded as the least technologically savvy of the JP offices. The case management system used by the JPs, called FACTS, faces massive challenges. Perhaps it would have been worth considering which candidate was better placed to oversee the updates and upgrades to this vital system.

I never hear Yvonne Williams discussing any original ideas for innovation and thus find your statement that both represent “some of the best young energy of Austin…” to be doubly odd when Daniel Bradford (35) is visibly more at ease discussing technological solutions than Yvonne Williams (55).

I think that when endorsing for more political offices it might be acceptable to rate candidates on intangibles, but when one is dealing with a judicial office like JPs (because it is very much an administrative position), I believe it is important to understand the issues fully or you risk being reckless in your endorsements. You wield immense influence over a segment of the voting population. Instead of pretending that you understand the issues or endorsing based on politics, you should simply not endorse.

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