Minor mayoral candidates strive for legitimacy
| With no reliable way to reach him, mayoral candidate Michael Idrogo is as elusive as the ivory-billed woodpecker, but he has run twice for mayor: In 2001, he received 155 votes; in 2003, he garnered 2,410. Although the federal government is planning to close military bases throughout the U.S., Idrogo's platform includes establishing more military bases in San Antonio and offering discount commercial airfares from KellyUSA to Europe. On his website, michaelformayor.homestead.com, he's pictured looking for bullet fragments at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
Although Julie "Mama Bexar" Oldham, Everett Caldwell, Rhett Smith, and Michael Idrogo have been excluded from public forums and debates, they nonetheless want voters to take them, and their ideas, seriously. "The City has set a standard," says Smith, the only minor candidate to receive campaign contributions - $51. "If you can get 212 signatures or meet the $100 financial obligation, then you're a legitimate candidate. You're considered a serious candidate."
A legal candidate, yes; a serious one, not necessarily.
A weekly rabblerouser at City Council meetings, Oldham ran for mayor in 2001 and received 231 votes. She claims to have photographs of back-door deals at City Hall, including those conducted over the PGA development, 99 percent memory recall, and the cell phone number of the president of Toyota North America. "I was at a parks and rec meeting about Sunken Gardens," she says, "and `parks director` Malcolm Matthews advised us to close Sunken Garden. I said, 'Mayor, that's a slap in the face. Do you want me to call Toyota and have him buy it?'"
So far, Toyota hasn't purchased that property, nor the remnants of the historic Hot Wells Hotel, which she would like to refurbish, although it has caught fire several times and, Oldham says, has been taken over by witches.
She would fight SA's gang problem by applying for grant money to train youths in car repair. "The reward would be getting Paul Newman down here to organize car racing."
Caldwell went to City Hall with the intention of running for the District 6 seat, but a crowded race coupled with the parking ticket he received inspired the retired Army communications specialist to run for mayor. "I put the coins in for an hour's parking and came back in less than 15 minutes and I had a ticket."
Caldwell says he opposes tax abatements for developments over the recharge zone, instead favoring incentives for inner-city projects. He also is against discretionary funds for Council districts: "It doesn't take a magnifying glass to see waste there."
While Caldwell says the city needs more cops, if elected, he would reexamine the role of the police union. "We've allowed organized unions to dictate salaries and how many patrolmen we're going to have."
Those additional police officers would fight gang activity and work with Border Patrol to oust illegal immigrants. "We virtually ignore the legal status of hundreds of thousands of immigrants in this county. We should and could have a lot of legal workers, but we can't ignore illegals. It automatically becomes a racial issue when it's questioned. And that's absurd."
Rhett Smith's previous political background includes a run for Congressional District 21 against Republican Lamar Smith, but "statewide issues are always in the back of my mind: the environment, the aquifer, border security issues."
If elected, he would hold a statewide environmental conference in SA, work to clean up dilapidated properties, and support building a historical library, much like those in Washington, D.C.
He also favors the property tax freeze for seniors (Prop 3) and the crime-control district, a proposition that could be placed on the ballot in November. "I spoke to the police chief and he wants additional officers," Smith says. "I might ask the senior officers and the police association if they could reduce their high rates of pay to get more officers."
A Navy veteran, Smith works in the private security industry and says he's concerned about crime and border issues. "People accept violence and crime in this town. And on the border, it's huge, it's out of control. Until we know everybody walking the streets, it invites crime. I would ask the religious community to identify these problems with unidentified people. If we have more identification, we'll have less crime."
Another crime, says Smith, is omitting minor candidates' opinions from public debates. Two weeks ago, he filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order to stop a KLRN debate from which he and the other minor candidates were excluded. A judge didn't grant the order, but Smith is pursuing a lawsuit. "Not including people is despotic." •
By Lisa Sorg