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Democrats call on Dukes to step down for failing to show up

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by Ashley Lopez, KUT

Democratic House Rep. Dawnna Dukes of Austin was already in hot water at the start of the legislative session. She had walked back a promise to resign and, soon after, was indicted.

But Travis County Democrats say she then failed to do a major part of her job: show up.

According to Community Impact, she’s missed up to 50 percent of votes in the House – including a vote on the final budget.

“Your job was to show up and represent us,” said Denee Booker, a Democratic precinct chair in Dukes’ District 46. “You didn’t show up. Because you didn’t show up, we want you to leave.”

Daniel Segura-Kelly, who is also a precinct chair in District 46, says Dukes’ behavior is making the party look bad.

“We certainly perceive this as a blemish,” he said. “We definitely see this as a problem.”

During a Travis County Democratic Party meeting last week, Booker and Segura-Kelly joined other Democrats in proposing a resolution to thank Dukes for her more than two decades of service and ask her to step down.

The resolution was purely symbolic, though, as Segura-Kelly put it.

“It’s letting her know, you no longer have the party support,” he said. “You know, if you’re not doing the job, you should resign.”

Not all county Democrats are on board with this. Another precinct chair, Arthur Turner, said this is all overblown.

“I just don’t buy into that,” he said, “and to me it’s an insult.”

Vincent Harding, the chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, said he doesn’t want to rush the resolution. During the meeting last week, he stopped a motion that would bring it to a vote.

Harding said it’s improper to ask an elected official – especially one of the longest-serving African-Americans in the Texas House – to step down.

“The question that I think all of us want to know is what does that have to do with math?” Booker said. “She didn’t show up for a significant percentage of last session or this session.”

But Harding said the resolution would have broken a lot of rules. For one, he said, the party chair cannot weigh in on primary candidates.

Second, he said the resolution was not on the agenda for that meeting. Harding said he doesn’t like the idea of adding something last minute and then taking a vote the same night.

“I believe that something of this nature should not be rushed through,” he said. “Something of this nature deserves community notice and community input.”

Booker said the resolution’s sponsors followed all the rules.

Segura-Kelly said he and others are planning community forums for as early as this weekend.

“If all those things are met, that definitely will be in the consideration as it relates to it being placed on the agenda,” Harding said.

Either way, as Segura-Kelly mentioned, this is all symbolic. The only person who can decide whether Dawnna Dukes resigns is Dawnna Dukes.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY GABRIEL CRISTÓVER PÉREZ/ANDREW WEBER / KUT. This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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