Collin County Politics: The Reasons We Lost

Photo by Stephen Melkisethian at

June 12, 2023

I wanted to quit politics on Sunday. Like so many others, I worked incredibly hard to win an election that should’ve been ours. Both Dr. Stacey Donald and Scott Coleman earned more votes than their opponents in the municipal election in May. In most elections, that would’ve been the end of the race and they would’ve started moving the horrific Collin College Board of Trustees back to sanity. Instead, we got a run-off.

Even so, the wind seemed at our backs. Jay Saad (Scott’s opponent) hardly did any campaigning. His website was half-hearted (seriously, it’s barely a website) and he hasn’t updated his Facebook campaign page since 2019. Either he didn’t care if he won or he was certain the deplorables would show up for him. I hate that he was right. Stacey’s opponent (Cathie Alexander) is batshit crazy. Since the municipal elections saw us ousting several extremists, I hoped people were tired of them. Guess not.

We took nothing for granted though. Democrats did numerous block walks, phone banks, texts, postcards, mailers, and endless posts on Facebook advertising the election. It wasn’t enough. Our candidates each lost by over 3,000 votes. That hurt. A lot.

So what happened? This is a good question, one plenty of people are asking, and one we must understand if we’re to be successful in going forward.

Democrats didn’t show up in the numbers we needed to win.

It’s tempting to blame this loss on us entirely – and we certainly bear responsibility – but the reality is a bit more complicated. Far too many Democrats stayed home, not because they didn’t care but because most of them didn’t know about the run-off. Even some people who follow the Collin College Board were unaware. After all, the election was held in May and Stacey and Scott both earned the most votes in May. The election should’ve been over and many believed it was.

Democratic voters don’t know enough about local politics. No judgment – I definitely didn’t until 2016 when something evil happened and I got passionate about politics – but this must change. It’s vital they realize just how much impact local political bodies have on our money and daily lives. I’ve had to explain to more than one Democrat why they must vote for school boards and Collin College seats even though their kids don’t attend either. People show up to vote when they believe it’s important to them. They must be convinced that all elections matter.

It’s not just Democrats who fail to vote though. There are roughly 700,000 registered voters in Collin County. Only 4% of them showed up for the run-off. Only 11% voted in May. So, it’s worth asking why it’s so difficult to get people to the polls.

Voter suppression is an art form in Texas.

While Democrats must do better with voting and getting politically involved, it’s less our fault than it is Republican treachery. Ken Paxton out and out admitted they cheat. We have so many voting restrictions here that, by design, it’s harder to vote in Texas than in any other state in the country. Although I’m dying to list all the MANY physical voter suppression tactics they use against us, I won’t because we’d be here all day. Instead, I’ll only mention a few because I want everyone to get a feel for the scope of what we’re up against. Some of the physical voter suppression tactics include gerrymandering, curtailing early voting in diverse communities, partisan poll watchers, requiring people to be deputized to register voters, having to register 30 days in advance, limiting mail-in voting, not allowing online voter registration, and allowing the Secretary of State to take over elections in Democratic counties. Those are some that are in place. Don’t even get me started on the voter suppression methods they tried to implement!

But voter suppression is about more than physical obstacles to voting. It’s also about encouraging apathy and ensuring voters are ignorant about the overall electoral process. There’s a reason why most voters aren’t aware elections are happening, what the platforms are for candidates, or where and how to vote. Case in point: My son came in from Seattle for a visit on the last day of early voting. He checked his mail before he left. No absentee ballot. When he showed up on Election Day, they would only allow him to vote provisionally because he was sent an absentee ballot. Which hadn’t shown up by the end of early voting. That’s not an accident.

We also have a lot of elections instead of putting everything in one or two general elections. Run-offs add an extra layer of electoral fatigue. Given all this, let’s not blame Democrats for not voting in large numbers since low voter participation is a feature, not a bug, of the Republican electoral system. But even that wasn’t enough for them.

Chris Hill is a bigoted, corrupt coward.

Long-time readers may remember how much I’ve complained about Collin County Judge Chris Hill who I loathe with the fire of 1,000 suns. I griped about the other commissioners too – they’re also terrible – but he’s the worst. On the day before the final day of voting in the run-off, Hill sent an email to his extensive campaign email list (don’t get me started on that corrupt sleight of hand).

In this email, he posted pictures from Stacey’s personal Facebook page about her support for reproductive rights and the LGBTQIA+ community. He made sure to point his base to what he considered offensive by apologizing for the “colorful” language. He also talked about how “woke” Stacey and Scott are and how we shouldn’t let them contaminate the board.

Hill knew exactly what he was doing. He saw that the election was going to be close, so he stoked the fires of ignorance, fear, and bigotry against women and the queer community. And, just like the hateful robots they are, the Republican sheep came out by the thousands.

What now?

Do Democrats have work to do on ourselves? Absolutely. But we must fight for every fucking inch because of Republicans. In case you’re wondering, I do not apologize for the colorful language. It’s accurate and feels good to say. My son suggested Every Fucking Inch should be the title of my political memoir (should I ever write one) because that’s how it is in Texas. The deck is stacked against us but we must persevere. There’s no other choice.

Y’all, we have to lay it all on the line. Just voting is no longer enough. If you don’t like the results of the run-off because it means the Collin College Board of Trustees will continue to spend our money recklessly, foster an atmosphere of fear, decimate the college learning environment, and bring down the value of the college itself, then get involved. If you’re scared that our candidates lost due to misogyny and homophobia (which they did), then get involved. It’s going to take a village.

Join the Collin County Democratic Party, any of the local Democratic Clubs (McKinney, Allen, Plano, Frisco, Richardson), the Liberal Women’s Action Network (everyone’s welcome), WOW Dems, Stonewall Democrats, or any liberal group you can find that does partisan electoral activism. No more trying to work with Republicans. They’re anti-democracy and deeply dangerous.  

As for me, I’m not quitting. After I got out of my funk, I reminded myself of what I learned from my foremothers in the suffragist and civil rights movements: you never give up. Bon Jovi said it well: “You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got.” Yep. But it sure would be nice to win.

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