Sen. Williams Avoids Prison, Names Successor

Despite killing a pregnant woman with her car, and injuring several passengers including two children in her own vehicle who were not wearing seat belts, State Senator Suzanne Williams will not face criminal charges for the December 2010 car crash that she caused in Hartley County Texas. The Family of the woman who was killed may still seek civil damages, however.

Amarillo’s Channel 7 reports here.

Eric Gomez, husband of Brianna, said the grand jury’s decision was “unfortunate.”

“No matter what I do, no matter how long I stomp my foot it’s not going to change the call on the field,” said the coach and teacher at Amarillo High School. “And on a larger scale there’s nothing I can do to change what the grand jury decided.”

According to the AP, he said the family is regrouping and will “see where that leads us.”

Williams told The Associated Press that she was relieved by the announcement that she was not facing charges.

Some posturing in the weeks leading up to this decision, however, led some to speculate that she was worried about the decision. Details on that after the jump.

At a local meeting in April. Senator Williams (SD28) told democrats in her disrict that State Representative Nancy Todd (HD41) would be seeking her Senate seat in the 2012 election and that Rep. Todd’s husband, Terry, would be running for his wife’s seat. (Terry Todd has filed the appropriate paperwork with the SOS, Rep. Nancy Todd has not. So for the time being, Nancy Todd’s candidacy is not official)

Some questioned the timing of the announcement, over 18 months before the election, and it seems that the move was designed to set up for potential vacancy committees that may have had to be convened if Sen. Williams was summoned to Texas for a criminal trial, or worse yet, found guilty and sentenced to jail time. The idea being that announced candidates would have an advantage in a vacancy process.

But the move brought other questions forward as well. For one, how appropriate is it for our representatives to be naming their successors and overtly working to prevent challenges?

In this case, Sen. Williams’ husband will be the campaign manager for Rep. Nancy Todd’s husband. Sen. Williams previously held the seat currently occupied by Rep. Todd.

And at a different meeting, when another Democrat (Andrew Bateman) announced that he would be running against Terry Todd for the open HD41 seat, Senator Williams jumped in on Terry Todd’s behalf  citing the fact that there hadn’t been a Democratic primary in Aurora in years and criticizing his choice to run when there was already someone else. She even went so far as to suggest that he should move to another district and run there.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, for what it’s worth, Bateman filed his candidacy paperwork before Todd.

So what do you think polsters? Do primaries have a value to the parties? Or should the establishment and incumbents choose the candidates with everyone else clearing the path for the entitled husbands, wives, and children of other electeds?

Full disclosure: I won’t be casting a vote in this race, first because I don’t live in the district and second because I’m not a Democrat. But the dynasties annoy me nonetheless, hence the tone of bias. But, if I hadn’t been following the Sen. Williams car crash story so close, I probably wouldn’t have even known about this whole mess. Which is why I wanted to bring it up to the rest of you, who also may not be aware of it.

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12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Aristotle says:

    A: Inappropriate IMO, but I think this sort of thing happens a lot. For all the professed love of letting the people decide, there sure is a lot of behind-the-scenes deals and manipulation of the system to ensure that the “right” candidate gets the job.

    The biggest reason I’m mad at Chris Romer is that he was my senator, and everyone knew he was going to run for mayor of Denver this year, yet he ran for re-election to his senate seat last November, then resigned shortly afterward. Why didn’t he just not run? So that the vacancy committee, who are not accountable to SD-32, could elect the new senator.

    This looks like similar maneuvering, albeit prompted by a much more tragic circumstance.

  2. Ah Choo says:

    of the decision.

    That said, Terry Todd has every right to run for the state house whether Suzanne is supporting him or not.

    As for the outrage about Andrew Bateman and couch surfing elsewhere, you fail to mention he moved into the district only a few days before he filed.

    His willing transience already looks opportunistic–so people asking him to seek opportunity in another district is not exactly outrageous.

    • nancycronk says:

      Not sure where you live, but I know Andrew and have followed his political career so far. He has worked hard for us in Arapahoe County for several years, at least, as well as for the entire metro area while a volunteer for Romanoff and for student-focused political campaigns. Andrew is a young man, and like other people of his generation, has moved regularly within the same general area. (I moved at least a dozen times in college and in my twenties, and have now lived in the same house for more than ten years. This is not unusual as people age.) Questioning Andrew’s commitment to Arapahoe County is NOT a valid argument.

      Terry Todd is also a good Dem, and he worked hard to help his wife get elected every time. I am blessed to know these two fine men, and proud to see them running in Arapahoe County. Every red area of the state should have this problem!

  3. AndrewBateman says:

    I have nothing but respect for the Williams’ and the Todds. My choice to run is not about them, and I absolutely agree with Ah Choo that Terry has every right to run. I look forward to a well fought campaign from both of us.

    But I do want to address the other point.

    I was born in Arapahe County and have lived in various parts of it for my whole life (I believe I have lived in every Arapahoe based House District).

    From my understanding of what is likely to happen with reapportionment, the place where I have lived since the spring of 2008 (which is currently in HD39, but just barely) will be in HD41 when the dust settles. I also lived in the current boundaries of HD41 before 2008. So the accusations about me moving in a few days before announcing are less than genuine and fail to capture the fact that this part of the state has been my home since the day I was born.

    I haven’t commented on this site before. Nor had I planned for my first comment to be about this. But I look forward to getting to know you all. Even the ones who clearly already know me.

      • nancycronk says:

        and respect them very much. I don’t wish to get involved in any debate regarding Suzanne Williams and her tragedy, or Nancy and Terry Todd planning their next moves.

        All of these people have a long history of service to Arapahoe County, as well as being faithful advocates for the people they represent. Both Suzanne and Nancy are legislators with exemplary records of caring about people in their districts.

        That said, Andrew Bateman has long been someone I hoped would run for office. Andrew was one of our most sought-after recruits for the Center for Progressive Leadership. He is sharp as a tack, passionate, and determined. He is an amazing public speaker, and works tirelessly for under-represented populations (college students, immigrants, working people, etc.) His credentials as a progressive are outstanding. I am proud to know Andrew, and to support him in any political office he seeks.

        Arapahoe County is finally suffering from the same problem that often plagues Denver — too many fine Democrats for one office. I for one celebrate this problem! The fact that CJ (whom I do not yet know) was formerly a Republican who is now supporting Andrew Bateman, speaks to the magnetism of Andrew, as well as to the recent successes of the Arapahoe County Democratic party.  

  4. cjgarbo says:

    It should be noted that Andrew Bateman announced before Terry Todd did.  He also did so without any prior knowledge whatsoever that Terry was going to announce or was even considering it.

    Additionally, Terry had advance knowledge of Andrew’s announcement and I don’t think Terry had any intention of announcing so early, but did so to try and get out in front of Andrew.  I know this to be true.

    I was at the HD41 Dem meeting above.  Sen. Williams outright stated that it was important for her and Rep. Todd to “maintain their legacy.”  Sen. Williams was clear that it was her plan that Nancy have her seat and Todd can take Nancy’s vacancy.  I guess elections are just formalities for some.

    I was also disappointed, but fascinated that, despite the vast differences, Republican and Democrat establishments don’t appear all that different.  I have faith the difference lies in the party activists.

    Just my two cents.

    • Ah Choo says:

      A Republican activist lecturing Democrats on authenticity sure is a great way for the Bateman campaign to introduce itself to party activists….

      Especially the guy who lost the HD-9 Republican primary to the guy who beat his wife.


      • cjgarbo says:

        Forgive me; I didn’t intend to sound like I was lecturing.

        And while I may have lost the primary, I certainly ran a better campaign.  I was proud to have knocked on over 5,000 doors and have made over 2,000 phone calls.  Listening to so many of my neighbors was humbling and a blessing.

        I would have much rather done that and lost than stick my yard signs in yards without asking and win any day of the week.

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