Like many of you, I am saddened and deeply concerned that Secretary Hillary Clinton will not be our next President. I understand the fear, frustration, anger, and utter disbelief about what took place. Unlike some that will tell you to get over it immediately, I realize the feelings are real and you may have fear based on concerns that your family may be torn apart, that a historical opportunity was missed, you may be forced to leave this country or lose your job, or that this country goes backwards to a time before Civil Rights legislation.
Under no circumstances can we let bigotry, hatred, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and classism win. Even while we are deeply disappointed, I encourage you to consider the historical examples that give you hope. We know that many times throughout our country’s history, we have taken strides forward to only take steps backwards. Let’s consider our ancestors who were met with difficult circumstances and insurmountable odds but were willing to look fear in the face and be determined that a present sacrifice was worth making in order to move our country forward. I do not know what will come our way, but let’s face whatever challenges together.
For me, the Civil Rights movement has always provided me inspiration. There were water hoses, dogs, bloodshed, and even death of those who were simply trying to be treated as human and get Civil Rights legislation passed that Lyndon Johnson signed when he became President. At this time in our history, we must rise to meet the difficulty of our time and do our part to move the arc of history closer toward justice.
Come hell or high water, let’s follow the examples of our ancestors and continue our pursuit of justice, progress, and equality. We are truly stronger together and must not allow our community to be divided. We will not all agree on a specific path forward, but let’s find as much common ground as we can and be determined to look for ways to serve others.
Based on your hard work and coordination, this election was one of the best for Democratic performance. From our Tax Assessor Collector Bruce Elfant helping to lead us to 92% voter registration to more than 50% of the electorate voting early for the first time, and from the highest number of Democratic votes in an election to more than 66% of all straight ticket ballot votes being cast for the Democratic Party, this election showed the true strength of Travis County Democrats.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support of the Travis County Democratic Party since Election Day 2014. A significant factor in Travis County’s success was this community’s support of the Party in a non-election year. In particular, I want to thank former Chair Jan Soifer and Senator Kirk Watson for their advice and counsel this year. Chair Soifer was an excellent leader and turned the Party over in good financial shape. In addition to paying for the Campaign Academy this year, Senator Watson has contributed $95,000 to the Party since Election Day 2014.
As Chair, I said the Party would have an East-West strategy for our coordinated campaign that built the low propensity base but stopped the Republican invasion in West Austin. We want to congratulate Jimmy Flannigan on his election to the Austin City Council and I am glad that Don Zimmerman was defeated. We maintained our stronghold on Travis County Precinct 2 as Constable Adan Ballesteros was re-elected by more than 10 points. When faced with the opportunity to make the entire county more Democratic, the Party endorsed Victor Gonzales and we congratulate him on being elected the next Mayor of Pflugerville.
We are happy to send back to the Texas Legislature Donna Howard, Celia Israel, Eddie Rodriguez, and now Gina Hinojosa. We are proud of our newest countywide elected officials Sally Hernandez, Margaret Moore, Tamara Needles, Jan Soifer, Brad Urrutia, and Kim Williams. We are proud to have elected new county officials in George Morales, Stacy Suits, and Jeff Travillion. Congratulations to City Council Members Greg Casar, Delia Garza, Leslie Pool for their re-election. After the horrific attack suffered last year, we are thrilled that Judge Julie Kocurek was re-elected.
We also congratulate all of our public servants that were re-elected and are thankful that for the endorsed candidates that won, ran, or are in runoffs on December 13, 2016. The Party endorsed the transportation bond and is grateful for its passage as well. We also want to thank Tawana Cadien, David Holmes, Ana Jordan, Virginia “Jennie Lou” Leeder, Rebecca Bell Metereau, Judy Jennings, Kathi Thomas, Tom Wakely, and other Democrats for their courage in running for office and the hard work they put into their campaigns.
The Party’s operations were once again second to none thanks to our Operations Director Cindy Flint who not only kept the Party running strong but ran the Hillary Store. The coordinated campaign team that helped Travis County accomplish record Democratic performance in so many aspects was led by Campaign Manager Carisa Lopez, Field Director Marco Orrantia, Volunteer Coordinator and Lead Field Organizer Darcy Caballero, Lead Field Organizer Tyler Sheldon, Lead Field Organizer Stephanie Morris, Communications Intern Ashton Willnow, and Secretary Bianca Garcia. I am most proud of the Party staff because they conducted themselves with integrity and always sought to take the high road.
I am also forever grateful for the Precinct Chairs that organized their communities, led neighborhood teams, and helped the Party raise money. Your volunteer efforts were exceptional and we were once again led by the Women For Good Government who provided more than 1,500 volunteer hours and handled over 95,000 pieces of literature. I also want to thank former staff members JD Gins and Joe Deshotel for their contributions this election cycle and years of service to the Party.
Personally, I am extremely grateful that you elected me to serve as Chair of the Party and you trusted the Party’s team to run a Coordinated Campaign that helped accomplish historic results. More than anyone else, I thank my wife, Meagan Harding for her support and for being willing to put our lives on hold a bit to allow us to serve in this capacity. My commitment to you is what it was from day 1, to do the right thing. As Secretary Hillary Clinton said, “fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
Sec. Clinton ended her concession speech with a passage of scripture. I hope it will provide some encouragement to you as it did for me, “let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
Vince Harding, Chair
Travis County Democratic Party