News Roundup: Roland Gutierrez To Run For Carlos Uresti’s Senate Seat, But Uresti’s Not Leaving

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMarch 12, 2018 2:05 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The weekend, State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, a San Antonio Democrat, announced his running for Texas Senate District 19. Currently, State Sen. Carlos Uresti holds that seat and he has refused to relinquish it despite facing eleven felony convictions.

The convictions were handed down in February in connection with Uresti’s role in a now-bankrupt oilfield services company. As the Texas Tribune reports, Uresti can hold onto his seat while his case is on appeal, but once the conviction is final, he won’t be able to serve in the state legislature. In the meantime,

Texas Public Radio’s Ryan Poppe reports that Gutierrez moved ahead with launching his campaign.

Standing on a platform with a banner behind him reading, “New Leadership, New Direction,” Gutierrez joked to the San Antonio crowd that it looks like his secret is out.

“I didn’t say we were running just yet. It’s kind of hard to keep a secret with that behind you,” he said.

Gutierrez said that in the weeks before the 2017 legislation session, he traveled with his family throughout the expansive Senate District 19, which runs through the southern part of San Antonio and then west through Del Rio and Brewster County, visiting along the way with the families that he says have been forgotten.

“And so I’ve become aware there is a greater community in need, and I feel that I have the ability to help address that need, and I can’t stand by here in good conscience while they wait. And therefore, I’ve asked all of you here today to announce my candidacy for the 19th senatorial district,” he said.

But here’s the thing: Uresti, so far, has said he is not planning to step down from his seat, despite being convicted on 11 counts of fraud and money laundering, stripped of all Senate responsibilities and asked by his Senate colleagues to resign. He isn’t up for re-election until after the 2019 legislative session.

“If he doesn’t resign, I imagine that the governor and the Texas Senate can vote him out come January, and this community needs somebody to represent them, so I implore him to do the right thing,” Gutierrez said.

If Uresti resigns at the start of the session, Gutierrez says the governor would announce a special election for the open seat sometime in the middle of the session. But Gutierrez expects Uresti to likely step down sometime this summer.

Conservationists in Houston are trying to protect migrating birds as they’re passing through southeast Texas, this spring.

Richard Gibbons, the conversation director with Houston Audobon, told Houston Public Media measures like turning off building lights at night will help protect birds.

“We have more than 500 species that are either resident or migratory species passing through, and stopping over or wintering,“ said Gibbons. “So that means there is more opportunity for collisions, because there are more birds.”

Last year, hundreds of birds were found dead in Galveston after a migrating flock crashed into a skyscraper. Stormy weather was partly to blame.

March 20 is the International Day of Happiness – a holiday the United Nations cooked up and approved in 2012. It turns out several Texas cities are cheerier than most in the nation. That’s according to a report from the finance site WalletHub, whose numbers are out Monday.

They looked at 28 factors aimed at quantifying joy – including depression rates and the average amount of leisure time spent per day. Both Plano and Grand Prairie made the top 10 happiest cities in the United States in fifth and tenth place respectively.