Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Election Wrap: Religion

Laura Maczka
Now that Richardson's mayoral election is over, there are a few loose ends to tie up.

The elephant in the room was religion. Neither of the candidates raised the subject of religion in any forum or in any email or mailer. That's not to say rumors about religion weren't raised in whisper campaigns. I am hopeful that the public silence is a sign of social progress and that one day bigotry won't be tolerated even in private conversations.

Still, I believe that religion was a deciding factor in at least some voters' minds. Were there enough such voters to be a factor in the outcome? It's hard to answer that. I don't think we'll ever know for sure, unless one of the candidates did some polling on the issue and shares the results now that the election is over. I'm not counting on that happening.

So, I'll just have to be grateful that religion was not considered a legitimate issue for either candidate to raise in public. Not verbally, anyway. Peace! ;-)

(Photo: Laura Maczka greets early voters at the Civic Center.)


mccalpin said...

I think the record will show that religion was a complete non-issue in this race. First, that supposed cabal of old white [largely Christian] people called the Coalition had no problem voting for a person of Mr. Omar's religion in 2009 and 2011. Second, the people who did appear to have a problem with his religion seemed to have had a change of heart. (I will remind you of a posting by a local well-known blogger questioning whether people of that religion could be loyal citizens - a posting you damned as religious bigotry). Yet, that same blogger switched gears and enthusiastically supported Mr. Omar in 2013.

And as for Ms. Maczka, while one might assume from the cross on the necklace that she is Christian, I imagine that 9 voters out of 10 have no idea what denomination she belongs to...nor do they care.

On the whole, whatever one thinks of Richardson voters, I think religion just hasn't been an issue for them and won't be in the future...


Mark Steger said...

The following is posted with the commenter's permission:

After working in front of City Hall for three days during early voting, I can say unequivocally that Religion played a part in this election. There were people who refused to shake Amir Omar’s hand, asked if he had a bomb in his car, accused him of having no respect for women, and brought up the Boston Marathon bombing as reason enough not to vote for him. I was chastised by strangers and acquaintances for supporting a Muslim. I knew going in to this election that there would be narrow minded people, but I had no idea that they would be so vocal and vitriolic. It is a sad commentary on our city that this kind of bigotry exists, as does a PAC that will do and say anything in order to win.

Peggy Cordell Beil

Destiny said...

To say religion was a complete non-issue is insane.

Of course it was an issue.

As I've said before it was the reason I did not vote for Amir back in 2009 when he ran against Dennis Stewart. I was terrified by his faith.

I'd been on the board of a local republican women's club where at least once (if not 2 or 3 times) a year we would have an ex-Muslim speaker come and scared the bejeezus, or I guess bemohammed out of us. They would show cheesy Al Jazeera videos of the Statue of Liberty drowning in a lake of fire, while some guy with a funny hat spoke in a different language about taking down America. We'd hear about how the speaker had been beaten and almost killed for converting to Christianity. And probably the most damning thing, at least for this election- they were constantly warning us that this is what was going to happen.... Muslims were going to be running for local offices, infiltrating I guess, and it was all part of some grand Islamic agenda.

And we bought it, because it was scary as hell.

Anyway, I say all that because these same friends who were once so hardcore anti-Richardson Coalition, suddenly switched and were not just voting for Laura, but actively working to promote her and get her elected.

I do not think this makes them bigots though, that's where we will have to disagree, because I've shared that mindset. I understand how powerful a motivating factor that fear was. And honestly, we do continue to see attacks against America done in the name of "Allah" by crazy confused extremists, so it's not entirely baseless. It just sucks for people like Amir who do not share those radical views in the least.

I don't know what ultimately changed my mind about all of this, but I think it was probably the fact that I asked him a lot of question, gave him a hard time about his faith (his ringtone on my phone is currently Osama Bin Laden telling me to pick up), and he never once responded with anything but kindness. I mean, according to what I had come to believe were absolute truths about Islam, I had given him plenty of reasons to behead me, or stone me or whatever, and instead he would just laugh, and try to answer my questions as best he could. It didn't make sense. It didn't line up with what I had been told, and I guess in the end it's want got rid of that fear for me personally.

So yes, religion was an issue in the election, however, I do not think it was the ultimate deciding factor (I think the RC voter's Guide was), but I do know it played a part. I had enough of the emails forward to me to prove it.

Destiny Herndon-Guadelupe-DeLaRosa O'Shannigan (sorry, I don't know how to change it in my posting name)

mccalpin said...

Mark, I think your readers deserve to know that Ms. Cordell Beil was Mr. Omar's campaign treasurer, and was not a disinterested spectator in the election. Indeed, when Mr. Omar initially reported a wave of thefts of his yard signs, I filed an Open Records request for police reports related to yard sign thefts. There were exactly two - one reported by Ms. Cordell Beil, and the other down the street from her by a person who has repeatedly made false statements about the City. Quite a coincidence.

And in terms of vitriolic, she might look to her own words, as she wrote them in the Dallas Morning News: "Did you know that no one wants to run against the Coalition because they will destroy anyone in their path?" Really? "destroy"? Were their families arrested and their homes burned to the ground?

Ms. Cordell Beil makes the leap from a few unwitnessed incidents to somehow believing that the Coalition is evidently full of bigots - even though the evidence of 2009 and 2011 shows quite the contrary.

I would like to remind Ms. Cordell Beil that the mudslinging in this campaign started when Allyn Media (the consultants that Mr. Omar used) no doubt persuaded D Magazine to write a hit piece on Richardson in March. Does she really think the decent people of Richardson appreciated being all but called white reactionary power-hungry anti-Muslim bigots? Why was there total silence from her camp about how the City of Richardson was thrown under the bus in that article? See RumorCheck.org.


Unknown said...

Religion NOT an issue?
What other reason was there for such a record turnout?
I was born at night, but not last night!

Anonymous said...

Ms Cordell Bell started her comment with "After working in front of City Hall for three days during early voting," --- which does not indicate that she is a disinterested spectator.

( Not using my real name so I certainly am OK if this is not posted. I don't need mccaplins vitrol aimed at me. Best regards 'DuckDuckGoose' )

Destiny said...

I actually got my friend Mike Mooney to write that piece about Amir after he received a few of his mail pieces back with the words "NO SHARIA LAW" written across them. I thought it was an interesting story, and so did Mike.

Amir (and his consultants) were both very leery about doing it, because honestly the last thing he wanted was remind anyone of his religion....


Unknown said...

Bill, it is common knowledge that I supported Amir. I am not hiding from that. I’m proud of that, which is why I gave my full name. And I WITNESSED incidents. Others like Janet Greenhaw’s husband did too. You can even ask Laura about the lunatic who came up screaming about “dirty Muslims like him (pointing to Amir) who ruined the brakes on my car on purpose so I would have an accident!" Amir handled it well, but I was shell shocked. I was also spoken to directly as was Diane Wilson. Maybe you should get out more, Bill. As far as my comments about the Coalition, I totally stand by them. It looks like 30% of our citizens do as well. I’m glad my parents aren’t still alive to witness this.

Anonymous said...

Religion aside, the Coalition did no Richardson resident any favors. It's ironic that their name as defined promotes a unity of sorts and it did exactly the opposite. It hijacked a race that could have been about how each candidate could have bettered our community-two candidates mind you who were working already in some form of conjunction before plans changed and we voted to elect. In the end, it caused great divisiveness and we still didn't get to hear nearly as much as we deserved as citizens about the great plans each could lay out for our city. We just got to sit back, shake our heads and watch the mud sling. We expected more and we deserved more.

Andy Gross (You are welcome name nazis) said...

Bill, no one gives 2 shits about your site.

Thank you and good day.

Andy Gross (You are welcome name nazis) said...

My mother in law was aghast that I voted for Amir. She was fearful of a muslim mayor. My mother (who lives in Richardson), was also fearful of a muslim.

Clearly this is anecdotal and completely fase and I am making it all up and pulling it out of my ass Bill.

I think *YOUR* record will show that it was a non-issue. Reality, however, will show you were wrong. You can squat in your little corner of delusion and believe what you like, but it doesn't change the actual reality of the situation.

Unknown said...

You are absolutely right J. Andrews. This should have been a substantive campaign with two qualified candidates sharing their vision and ideas. We all feel cheated.

Sassy Texan said...

The campaign finance report of the Coalition seems rather clear they knew what they were doing. What group spends $25k on a full city mailer and 4 days later spends $5k for a retainer to a downtown law firm.

Cheri Duncan-Hubert

mccalpin said...

Sorry, Destiny, but I don't buy your story. Perhaps it's because of the recent extremely negative interaction you and I had recently, and perhaps it's because I don't believe that such an intelligent and focused politician as Mr. Omar (that's not a negative) and such an experienced consulting group as Allyn Media would have allowed such a story to go forward if they didn't believe that it would bring Mr. Omar votes. Instead, its inaccuracies "pissed" people off.

Consulting groups like Allyn Media either control the whole message, or they walk away. You say "...(and his consultants) were both very leery about doing it." Mr. Omar spent at least $48,000 with Allyn Media, and they wouldn't have let their message be hijacked like that after Mr. Omar spent so much money with them. Either they initiated it, or they wholeheartedly approved it - either way, it was a colossal mistake.

Also, Michael Mooney doesn't write stories that Wick Allison doesn't approve...and my Open Letter was to Wick Allison for allowing such a fact-free letter...I notice, by the way, that you did not dispute any of the points I made in the letter...


mccalpin said...

Ms. Cordell Beil, I would say that it is not common knowledge that you were Mr. Omar's campaign treasurer. No, I don't mean that you tried to hide it, but there is no reason to think that the people reading this blog would have had any idea who you were or what your relationship to Mr. Omar's campaign was. They deserved to know that in order to evaluate your comments. Do you really think that the 14,000+ who voted happened to know that you were his campaign treasurer? That would be ludicrous.

As for getting out more, I am active in my neighborhood association (the highest voting precinct in Richardson), I am active in a very busy civic group, I personally attend every Council meeting (really), and I get emails as Editor of RumorCheck.org - and nowhere did I see any real concern about Mr. Omar's religion. Indeed, it wasn't until after the election that I got one email about how someone went door-to-door saying "Did you know that Amir Omar was a Muslim?" Gosh, like everyone in town didn't know that after voting for him in 2009 and 2011? Mr. Omar never shied from his religion, and informed voters were fully aware of it.

Indeed, as I noted, some of the people who were most concerned about Mr. Omar's religion in 2009 and 2011, ended up supporting him in 2013 - Mr. Steger knows of whom I speak.

I stand by my statement that in this election, religion - for both candidates - was fundamentally a non-issue.


mccalpin said...

Actually, J. Andrews, I agree that the Richardson Coalition did itself (and Ms. Maczka) no favors. As I pointed out at RumorCheck.org, "[b]ut the documentation uncovered so far by the Coalition may make Mr. Omar’s problems sound a lot worse than they actually are." It does no one any good to win the battle and lose the war.

But it is also clear that those same people who threw Richardson under the bus in 2011 as members and supporters of the Richardson Citizens Alliance, were still active in supporting Mr. Omar in 2013. To imagine that the Richardson Coalition was wholly responsible for the mudslinging in 2013 ignores the facts - the D Magazine article in March was completely uncalled for, and the final mailings on how Ms. Maczka was going to bring apartments to single family neighborhoods was so off base that I can't imagine who thought that this was a good idea.

No, I am not happy with either the Coalition or the Omar campaign...I wish Ms. Maczka the best of luck in repairing the damage done.


Destiny said...

"I notice, by the way, that you did not dispute any of the points I made in the letter..."

You assume I read your letter (which I did not). I barely have time to read your comments.

I also don't know how much of the day to day stuff Wick oversees, so you might want to redirect your "open letter" to Tim Rogers.

Believe me, or don't. I really don't care.

dc-tm said...

Destiny, Bill couldn't believe that it was Alan North behind the Direct Election petition. What make you think he will believe you when you plainly state you were behind that article in D-Magazine? You are expecting too much. It seems if it is not come kind of complex conspiracy, then it is not believable.

His attempt to diminish the value of Peggy’s comments is typical for him which is a focus on destroying the messenger and ignore the message.

David Chenoweth

Mark Steger said...

Commenting rules ask people to keep on topic. The topic of this blog post is the role of religion on the recent election. Comments more concerned with discrediting other commenters will not be published.

dc-tm said...

Ha, and Bill's attack on Ms. Beil centered on the anti-muslim feelings of Richardson residents? Or Bill's comments at 10:14 were about religion? If you are going to enforce and comments on your rules, then please do so evenly.
dave chenoweth

Mark Steger said...

Dave, your comment wasn't necessarily worse than others. It was the straw the broke the camel's back. Consider my warning to apply to everyone.

Sassy Texan said...

Race AND religion played a very big part in the election. Just sitting around the Senior center could have answered that one. And if you pace it with the colorful exaggerations written in the Coalitions voter's guide, one could somewhat get to the same conclusions.

I wish I could understand why Mr McCalpin does not believe the truth when it is spoken to him so often.