Approximately 130 people showed up that night. SPUDS and the San Patricio County Democratic Party sold 12 of the available tables, but a total of 16 tables were full with drop-in guests and speakers. As of press time, the estimate for funds raised was at about $8,000.
Paula Stone, Fundraising Committee Chair and Secretary of SPUDS commented, “We had a successful event. We heard that the people who attended were all very pleased; they said it was well organized and thought the speakers were excellent. In my opinion, it was a good turn-out. I’m excited that there a lot of democratic events going on in the area.”
Some people bought tickets at the door, and random donations were made in addition to the donations for the cookies and brownies, which helped boost their numbers uwp $300. SPUDS and San Patricio County party split the proceeds.
What happens with the funds that are raised? SPUDS donates the money back to candidates who are in a contested race in the area through either matching funds or simply giving donations. The SPC Democratic party puts money toward GOTV (Get Out The Vote) which could be used for hosting events or other material items such as early voting cards, signs, etc. to help them kick-off election season.
Many speakers came out to be part of the big event, some including Mike Collier, candidate for State Comptroller; Wesley Reed, candidate for CD 27; Kimberely Gonzalez, candidate for HD 43; and Senator Kirk Watson who all gave their speeches to an excited crowd. (insert pic and quotes)
The main topic was education, but equality and health care were also topics that echoed from the stage.
After a welcome speech given by both the president of SPUDS, Fred Rocha, and Raymond Stone, the San Patricio County Chair, Mike Collier from Houston took the stage. He explained that when he saw that Susan Combs was stepping down as State Comptroller, and people told him that there were no democrats stepping up, he decided to run.
He described the race for Democrats in Texas as a real race with diversity. ““They are starting to talk about this as a real race,” he said. “I’ve got news for folks; we are going to win this thing. The ticket’s got diversity—it’s got men; it’s got women; it comes complete with its own certified public accountant.”
The party got behind him even though he’s never been in politics. He explained that he wants more for Texans and begged the rhetorical question: “what’s wrong with asking for great public schools? And for teachers to be well compensating and free to teach?” He continued, “I’m going to put on my accountant’s hat—because that’s what I do for a living—we have to invest in schools.... in roads, water, and we must not become addicted to debt, and we must not raise taxes.”
He finished his speech to the crowd explaining that his goal is “to be their watchdog.”
Originally from Portland, this Nueces District Attorney’s office child abuse prosecutor says she is thrilled to be part of the Democratic ticket.
She talked a lot about growing up in the area and how she was raised to believe that you can do anything you wish as long as you are willing to work hard. Gonzalez accredited her work as a prosecutor to the values she was taught, and she also giggled and added, “as my husband Leo explains, it’s because all I do is argue.”
She returned to the fact that San Patricio County is her home, and she believes it to be unique. “It’s a very special place to have kids,” she said. “You know your neighbors; your family looks out for you, and everybody takes care of each other.”
As to why she decided to run for House District 43: “Basically, I want what you want—I want my family to be safe; I want to not pay $1,200 a year in wind storm insurance on my house that’s going to be taken by people who are never going to pay out claims; I want to be treated fairly; I want my kids to have good quality schools, and I want my son and my daughter to have the same opportunities.”
Moving forward regarding education was the main part of her speech as she focused on how imperative it is to take care of the teachers and the future of the children. She commented that she’s worked as a prosecutor for almost five years and wishes to use her knowledge from her profession.
She emphasized what she calls “the four ‘r’s” to help her if she wins: recruiting qualified teachers, reducing the number of kids in classrooms, reducing standardized tests, and restoring the budget cuts “so there is money to get the job done.”
The reception for the candidate of Congressional District 27 was at a high volume. Reed served in the U.S. Marine Corps 22 years ago as a pilot (F-18s); he infused a mix of his history and also joked to help him win over the audience right away. “Like many of you here tonight,” he said, “I’m here for the food and because I heard that there would be comp drinks; did anybody get those?”
As the laughter subsided, the seriousness of his platform was accentuated as he said, “We are in a fight for the soul of this country, and this battle will determine what kind of America our children and grandchildren will have.”
Growing up as a farm boy, as he told the crowd, his parents taught him about individual liberty, justice, hard-work and honesty. He explained that his grandfather told him, “What makes America the greatest country on earth? It’s not her strength or her wealth or her size. It’s that promise that no matter where you start in life, if you are willing to work hard and persevere, you have a shot at achieving that dream that you put your mind to.”
He believes that he needs to “right the wrongs” that occurred in his life like the story he described regarding his father having to pay a lot for medical insurance that he couldn’t afford, and he also talked about equal pay for equal work regarding women making $0.77 to every dollar a man makes throughout various states. He spoke about how he felt the way the Republican party changed negatively from the time he was growing up until now. The final part of this speech was a reminder that he thinks the crowd should tell their opponents, “You’re coming, and you are bringing the Marines with ya!”
Senator Kirk Watson
Senator Kirk Watson of district 14 was introduced by County Attorney, David Aken, who had jokingly ridiculed Watson for not being a native Texan.
As Senator Watson took over the podium, he immediately joined in on the fun, “It was mother and daddy’s mistake—that wasn’t mine!”
Then the Oklahoma native-turned-Texan left the jokes behind to address the importance of support. “You guys are out here on a Friday night, talking politics with democrats. We need to make a difference. We have a sense of pride—that is something we can’t lose sight of, especially with our opponents out there.”
Watson talked a lot about his opponents but also focused on why the candidates introduced before him would be great for the job and how they could make a difference. He mentioned his admiration for Senator Judith Zaffirini (21st District). “Our numbers may not be big in the Texas senate, but I’ll tell you what—if I am going to be in a foxhole with small numbers, let me be in it with Judith Zaffirini!”
Watson continued to talk about fellow Democrats, especially Wendy Davis and her record, strength, positions on the issues and how “she’s a candidate willing to tell you her position on her issues; she will make Texas even greater.”
He then spoke on what he referred to as “injustices that reach deep into the lives of all middle class Texans like an overcrowded classroom, growing cost of college....or the medical insurance they can’t afford.”
Watson finished by explaining his desire to end what he referred to as “plagues on our democracy of deals, cuts and the games rigged in the back rooms that our citizens never get to see,” because, as he continued, “We love Texas. We love our state, our home—from the hills and plains rolling out to the West to fields and forest to the East, from the cities to the ranches and to the suburbs with names that sound like ranches—we love this great state.”
In the end, candidates speeches mixed with the brisket and beans to make it one successful supper in Sinton.