Primary election results are in

Well, the results are in and Dayna Steele has won the nomination for Democrat candidate for Texas Congressional District 36. Please join me in supporting her. Our main goal has always been to get the Trump puppet, Babin, out of office, and to send him back to his dental practice in Woodville. Better that he does root canals on his patients than on the residents of Southeast Texas.

And I want to thank you sincerely for the support and encouragement that you have given me during this primary race. I hope we can maintain the relationships we have developed and that you will feel free to call on me to support causes that you support. I will continue the effort to restore the role of government to work for the good of all of us.

Please stay engaged in the political process, as the primary is only the first step. We need to turn Texas blue in November for the good of all of us and our entire country.

Thanks again for your support.

Texas Primary Election on March 6

2018 voting dates in Texas
Important voting dates in Texas, 2018

2018 could be historic election year

According to Dan Philpott at KUT in Austin, “this could be a historic year at the ballot box. Republicans are looking to sweep all the statewide offices again, but Democrats have fielded more candidates for more races than they have in years.”

Texas Primary Election is earliest in the country

The Texas Primary Election is the earliest in the U.S., on March 6. This means that the last day to register to vote is February 5, and Early Voting starts on February 20.

If you did not recently receive your new Voter Registration Card, then you should check before the deadline to make sure you are registered. This is especially important if you were affected by Hurricane Harvey and were relocated temporarily or permanently.

Also, make sure that you have one of the required types of Voter ID. For more details on the basics of voting, here is a primer on the Texas Primary Elections.

November midterms elections critical to changing the course of our country

The 2018 general election will be held in Texas on November 6. Along with other states, Texans will vote for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives positions. Democrats are fielding candidates in all 36 of Texas’ House races for the first time in 25 years.

You can find Important 2018 Election Dates here.

 

Government shutdown demonstrates lack of leadership

The Republican Congress and Donald Trump’s White House just shut the government down.  They will tell you otherwise, but when you control all the levers of power in DC, the buck stops with you.

U.S. Capitol at Dusk
Credit: Martin Falbisoner (Wikimedia Commons)

When you control power in DC, the buck stops with you.

 

My wife works at NASA, so this hits especially close to home for my family and many in our community.  Ultimately this was an unnecessary development that will harm people across our district and country and end up costing the taxpayers additional billions of dollars for nothing.

The failure of Rep. Babin and Congressional Republicans to secure funding for Harvey recovery is a letdown of leadership.  Texas and other hurricane and wild fire ravaged areas of our country are in desperate need of funding to rebuild and prepare for the next disaster season, but Republicans chose to play politics over having our backs.

Our current Congressman could’t care less about tackling the problems we face.

 

I’m a scientist and former small town mayor, so I get what it takes to reach agreements and get stuff done.  Our current Congressman is more concerned with stoking the base and echoing the President, and couldn’t care about tackling the problems we face and that good government can address.

Babin and Trump tax bill are moving U.S. in the wrong direction

Jon Powell published an open letter to incumbent Representative Brian Babin in Sunday’s Polk County Enterprise. Here is the text in its entirety.

Mr. Babin:

You are wrong: we want affordable healthcare and good-paying jobs, not elected officials who reward the wealthiest Americans and big corporations with over $1 TRILLION in tax cuts.

Babin Tax Tweet 10 Jan 2018
Babin Tax Tweet 10 Jan 2018

You and Donald Trump are moving our country in the wrong direction. People are upset because you are rewarding big corporations over working families across Southeast Texas.

Adding $1.5 TRILLION to the debt our kids and grandkids will have to pay is inexcusable. Let’s use that money for our kids and veterans, NOT rewards for corporate CEOs and billionaires.

Respectfully,

Jon Powell
Democratic candidate for Congress
Texas District 36

 

High time for a change

Administration to tighten enforcement of recreational marijuana use

Today, the Trump Administration announced that it would take steps to tighten enforcement of marijuana laws; the focus is legal recreational marijuana use.  Sometimes all you can do is shake your head and wonder what on earth they’re thinking.  Jeff Sessions, U.S. Attorney General, announced that the federal government was going to revert back to its old policy of cracking down on states that legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Legal recreational marijuana use is a growing trend

Cannabis sativa
Cannabis sativa

Eight states (soon to be nine) and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use.  Twenty-nine states have legalized it for medical use. See State Marijuana Laws in 2017 (Governing Magazine) and Marijuana Legalization in 2018 (Newsweek).

Additional states will legalize recreational marijuana use. Time predicts that 18 states will legalize recreational use by 2020.

Such enforcement benefits no one

Forget about the Trump Administration’s claims about the importance of states’ rights.  And pay no attention the fact that there are no cases of fatal marijuana overdoses, or that legalization eliminates the black market and crime, or that research shows that states with legal recreational marijuana have a new tax revenue stream that helps fund schools, educational programs, and law enforcement.  Or that the policy that Sessions wants to bring back has wrecked the lives of many people while imposing a burden on the taxpayer through enforcement and incarceration costs that benefit no one. Enforcement, that is, criminalizing legal recreational marijuana use, benefits no one.

It’s time for a new approach

Rather than reverting to failed drug-war policies, Sessions and the Trump Administration should be taking an approach that promotes proper and careful integration of the emerging recreational marijuana business, such as modifying the federal laws to allow the businesses access to the commercial banking system and establishing a regulatory system that keeps marijuana out of the hands of children and away from places where intoxication can be dangerous, such as while driving.

You can help to make a difference

Attacks on you and me will continue until we make changes in DC.  You can do something about it by contributing $5, $25 or $50 right now.

Texas black bean-mango salsa

diced mangoI really enjoy cooking. And its great to share a meal with friends and family.

Here is a recipe for mango-black-bean salsa that I like. It brings together lots of strong individual flavors to make a delicious dish that is bigger than its separate ingredients—a culinary reflection of the community of southeast Texas. I hope you like it, too.

Texas black bean-mango salsa

Ingredients

1 12-oz. can black beans, drained

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced

2 tsp. red onion, finely diced

1 jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and finely diced

¼ cup fresh lime juice

1 Tbs. honey

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate if made a day ahead. Bring to room temperature to serve. Enjoy!

Texas pecan pie bars for Thanksgiving

pecansI love to bake and cook, and Thanksgiving is a time I get to do a lot of both. Here’s a recipe I found that packs loads of pecan flavor without the overly sweet, stick-to-the-roof of your mouth custard of a pecan pie.  

These pecan pie bars make a terrific holiday treat. The recipe is easy, gets awesome results, and is a great way to enjoy Texas pecans. Plus, they travel well, if it’s your turn to take dessert to a Thanksgiving dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Texas Pecan Pie Bars Recipe

Ingredients

Crust

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
6 Tbs. sugar
½ tsp. salt
8 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

Filling

¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and hot
2 Tbs. bourbon
½ tsp. salt
1 pound pecan halves, toasted
½ tsp. flake sea salt

Instructions

Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Line a 13” x 9” baking pan with aluminum foil. Use extra foil hanging over the edges so the lining forms a sling. Push foil into the corners and up the sides of the pan. Smooth the foil flush to the pan. Lightly spray foil with vegetable oil spray.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add melted butter and stir until dough begins to form. Use your hands to combine until no dry flour remains. Place small pieces of dough in pan. Use your fingers and palm of your hand to press and smooth dough into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.

Filling

  1. Toast pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool.
  2. Whisk sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, bourbon, and salt in a bowl until combined.
  3. Fold pecans into sugar mixture until they are evenly coated.
  4. Pour mixture over crust. Use a spatula to spread mixture evenly to edges and corners.
  5. Bake until nut mixture is rapidly bubbling over entire surface, about 23-25 minutes.
  6. Transfer pan to cooling rack and lightly sprinkle with flake sea salt.
  7. Let bars cool completely in pan, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  8. Using the foil sling, lift bars out of pan and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 24 bars.

 

Texans still waiting for Harvey recovery and relief funds

Texans helping Texans

Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard move through flooded Houston streets as floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey continue to rise, Monday, August 28, 2017.
Credit: U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West

No one was surprised when Texans lent a hand in recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey.  We saw neighbors helping neighbors and folks helping strangers.  And those strangers became friends.  We Texans did it because that’s the way we’re wired—we’re community—or at least that’s why we did it after Harvey.  Things weren’t so community-oriented after Superstorm Sandy.  Back then in 2012, Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn, along with 20 members of the Texas Congressional Delegation, including Rep. Stockman from our TX-36, voted against the $50 billion relief package for those affected by Sandy.

Elected officials need to work for us

Some things don’t seem to change. So far, Texas’ request to the Trump Administration for Harvey relief and recovery have not been met.  Republicans control DC and they still cannot get their act together to help make our communities whole after Hurricane Harvey. 

How can they possibly think that not helping to rebuild our communities is why we elected them?  And they have not even considered investing in the projects that will combat future floods!

Hurricane Harvey’s devastation affected us all. Three months after the storm, we still wait for DC to take action. We need to recover from Harvey and rebuild for the future.

Hurricane Harvey
Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

 

You can make a difference

It is past time that we elect a member to Congress who gets things done and plans for the future.  You can make this a reality, but only if you get involved today.  Please donate to our campaign, talk with your neighbors about our need to do the right things, and make sure you vote.

 

Tax proposal must benefit the middle class

2017 Republican tax bill gives tax cuts to the ultra-rich

Elections have consequences and the ultra-rich are going to get another tax cut at the expense of adding over $one trillion to the national debt.  That’s not right. 

In the coming days we will see a lot of analysis of the Republicans’ tax bill.  What we know is that it helps the ultra-rich more than people like us.  To move this country in the right direction, we need elected leaders who will look out for us, not just millionaires and billionaires. 

Insist that tax proposal benefits the middle class

Act now!  Sign the petition and get your elected officials to pass legislation that works for all constituents, not just the rich. Tell President Donald Trump and Texas District 36 Congressman Brian Babin that any tax proposal must benefit the middle class. Trickle-down economics does not work.  History shows us that tax breaks for the rich and for large corporations do not create jobs.  Rather it is a way for the rich to get richer, while taking away funds needed for the good of the country, both now and in the future

Sign now!

Harvey relief efforts must include local Superfund sites

Houston’s Superfund sites flooded during Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey flooded tens of thousands of homes–and many Superfund waste sites. Houston’s polluted Superfund sites threatened to contaminate floodwaters (Washington Post, August 29).

Flooded Superfund sites like the San Jacinto Waste Pits spread their pollution onto nearby properties, into the river and the bay. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was not on scene, according to the Associated Press on September 2.   The EPA indicated on September 4 that 13 Superfund sites were flooded during Hurricane Harvey (NPR article).

Poisons emitted by industry to our air, water, and soil that can be controlled in normal conditions but have been made exponentially worse by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey where they cause harm to our families, reduce our property values, and make us all less healthy and prosperous.

Lawmakers must act now to protect people and clean up vulnerable waste sites.

Congress and our state lawmakers must act now to make protection of the people and cleanup of these vulnerable sites a priority.  We must demand that disaster recovery funds be allocated to begin this process immediately.  Our lawmakers know that even after a site is designated a Superfund site, cleanup can take decades.

Read my full Op Ed article in the Baytown Sun here.

Post-Hurricane Harvey: Rebuilding for the Future

The Texas Tribune published my op ed piece on September 7 on how to move forward after Hurricane Harvey, and how to prepare for the next big storm.

before and after views of Port Aransas
Aransas Pass before and after Hurricane Harvey, August 2017. Credit: NOAA

Invest in real solutions to real problems

How do we rebuild? How do we prepare for the future? To live in the place we all love, we must be willing to invest in solutions to the problems we know exist; we must ensure that Harvey relief makes us whole and gives us the resources to make the Texas Gulf Coast ready for the next hurricane.

A basic function of government is to protect us. Ask yourself if laws and regulations that were in place before Harvey struck made the situation better or worse. Who advocated for those bad policies? Was it the people who have a financial incentive to not spend the necessary funds for protection and their bought-and-paid-for lawmakers? How do we change the debate so we are talking about real solutions to real problems?

Our leaders must work for us

With floodwaters still flowing in parts of Texas, and Hurricane Irma eyeing the U.S. mainland, the current political talk is about tax cuts for the wealthy or the residency status of nearly 800,000 children and young adults. These are not the priorities of folks who lost everything in Winnie, Port Aransas, Orange, Beaumont, and Houston—and many cities in between.

Our leaders must work for us, not for folks who want to avoid paying to do the right thing.

 

Texas’ 36th District faces unique problems

Our District is unique because of the major concentration of refineries and petrochemical plants, and shipping lanes, along the Texas Gulf Coast. The effects of Hurricane Harvey reached well beyond the Texas borders, impacting 40 percent of the U.S. petrochemicals market (See CNBC, Harvey threatens to choke off supply of critical chemicals , plastics to U.S. manufacturers). Our District is concerned with the effects of storm surge. And southeast Texas has several protected wildlife areas.

I am a geologist by training, an environmental and risk assessment consultant by trade, so I know the unique problems we face as we work to recover. We need to make sure that DC gives us what we need to rebuild, and does it in a way that helps protect from future storms.

Hurricane Harvey’s impact forces us to think about how we rebuild better, stronger, and smarter

Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey, 25 August 2017, Credit: NASA

Hurricane Harvey’s devastation left me speechless

There was a point over this last week when I was speechless: the rain, the damage, the rescues, the deaths in Houston, Port Arthur, Orange and Beaumont, not to mention the chemical plant explosion in Crosby.

If you got emotional, I understand. I did too.

 

 

The impact of Harvey forces us to think about how we rebuild better, stronger, and smarter.

 

Cities large and small require assistance—quickly—to meet basic needs

The President will be in Houston on Saturday and I expect him to show empathy for Texans and give us a concrete timetable for when resources from DC will start to arrive. We need billions of dollars to rebuild our communities—and not just the big cities. There are portions of our area that still don’t have the basics of living—clean water and sewage systems and communications systems, for example, more than 12 years after Hurricane Rita.

It is time to hold our elected representatives accountable

We want a swift and substantial Hurricane Harvey recovery bill passed immediately; it should be the first thing Congress does when it reconvenes in September.  Anything else will be an insult to everything we have dealt with over the past week, and the weeks and months to come.  We need to mitigate loss, and we need to rebuild with an emphasis on the future.

Rebuild to protect our communities and our economy

I am an environmental consultant by trade; a scientist by training. There are things we can do in the rebuilding that will protect our communities, help us meet the challenges of the 21st century, and put people to work.  That’s what I will do when I represent you in Congress.

Thinking of all those whose lives have been turned upside down by Harvey.

I had an important letter to the editor published in the Orange Leader before the storm.  Check it out if you have a moment.