Herrera was appointed on the condition that she would not campaign to be elected, nor endorse any candidates who would canvass the necessary votes to serve in that office.
Herrera has remained so true to her word that she could be dubbed the Mute Councilwoman. No returned telephone calls. No outline of any issues that District 5 residents should ponder as they consider the seven candidates for the office. No public remarks
|Cars speed through the intersection of South Laredo and South Brazos on the city's near West Side. The intersection is well known in the area as the former home of the hotly disputed La Gloria building which ultimately fell victim to the wrecking ball to make way for a new pre-fab, auto repair shop. Photo by Mark Greenberg|
The Silent One wrote in her application for the appointment that she would "support home rehabilitation programs for seniors and homeowners, provide seniors with additional information and access to health utilities and transportation programs, make school environments safe for children, and re-establish confidence in the City Council and city government."
Anyone playing the "Find Nora" game would have spotted her recently at a ceramics class at the San Juan Gardens Park Recreation Facility near Storm Elementary School. She was there to explain, first in Spanish and then in eloquent, scripted English, events that were to occur during a two-week neighborhood sweep by the city. "One of the goals of this sweep is to increase the health and safety of residents and the sustainability of this neighborhood," she said, hardly deviating from her script. "Code Compliance has also been in the community working to ensure that abandoned homes are cleaned and secured and vacant lots are abated. Code Enforcement Officers will continue to work with residents to keep the neighborhood clean and safe for everyone."
In other words, we want you to snitch on your neighbor.
With no guidance from Herrera, no place to dance since La Gloria was rubble-fied, and a list of District 5 council members who have skipped out on their terms, the people who will actually vote May 3 must rely on their own instincts when they choose a candidate for the council seat. Perhaps the answer could come after meditating for several hours at one of the many murals - a brilliant solution to counter the labors of overachieving graffiti artists - that grace the walls of buildings in the West Side.
Who will emerge as leader of the pack and win at the polls in District 5? Who will walk down the same path as did Henry B. Gonzalez, former Supermayor Henry Cisneros, UTSA President Ricardo Romo? Will the next elected official serve out his or her term, or resign midway to challenge the seat of a higher office - or in disgrace?
Ironically, City Council candidate Thomas C. Lopez would have to resign from his seat as a trustee on the San Antonio Independent School District board if he gets elected. He has served on the board since 1982, and is no stranger to appointments, as he served on the Lone Star Investment Pool Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2003. Lopez works
|Patti Radle will have to convince a district population that is 94 percent Latino to fill in the mark beside her Anglo name on the ballot.|
Lopez has a list of "accomplishments" that include banning smoking in all schools, free breakfast and lunch for students, after-school, kindergarten and pre-kindergarten programs, among others.
"District 5 is a district that is rich in tradition, rich in caring for its own people," Lopez explained recently. "And it's a district that truly mirrors San Antonio's past. It really tells us the greatness of where San Antonio needs to continue to grow. We need to make sure we keep pace with the rest of the city." Lopez waited until the last minute to add his name to the ballot, and has to work hard to catch up with some of his opponents' fund-raising efforts during the last few weeks before the election. "There was the possibility of me being activated" for the war in Iraq, said Lopez, who serves as a reservist with the 433rd Airlift Wing of the U.S. Air Force. "I feel the response has been very good to my campaign. We're doing all word-of-mouth and block walking. People still know me."
The key in the race, Lopez said, "is now we for the first time truly have a choice in who we elect. In the past, the council person didn't complete the term, and some of them moved on to a higher office." One more thing. Lopez supports paying salaries to City Council members, but said he would not accept it. "I would take the money and put more police officers on the street."
Henry Rosales loaned his campaign treasure chest $5,000 that he had saved for a family vacation, and took out a personal loan from a local credit union. So far he has raised about $13,000 to pay for the large campaign signs on display throughout the district. The Tarleton State University graduate is a father of three children, and is a director of workforce development for the Enterprise Foundation. He said he has a crossover of experience in the non-profit, for-profit and educational sectors of the business world. "My experience and work background is the strength I bring to the community. Our district is one of the poorest in the country. It has been neglected for many years, and I want to make sure that does not continue. I want to make sure that District 5 gets its fair share of the pie when it comes to funding."
Rosales said he wants first to address basic services, city streets, sidewalks and drainage, health care services and issues for seniors and children. "Our No. 1 resource is our people. How do we capitalize on it? We need to look at job training and career development. We have two fine universities in our district, UTSA and Our Lady of the Lake University. We need to work with them to see more about scholarships." He supports the idea of lifting a lifetime ban on serving more than two terms on the City Council, and would recommend paying about $40,000 in salaries to council members. "It is a full-time job, and a lot of good people are not able to be part of the (government) process. "Paying council members provides an opportunity for a fair and equitable process to be part of city government."
Patti Radle chose the color purple for her Clean Money campaign yard signs in District 5. It matches her house, which has been purple for 20 years. "We asked our kids what color they wanted." Subsequently, her house is purple with pink trim, and is landscaped with purple verbena. Add a large peace sign and you've got the Radle home.
Radle marched with her neighbors from the near West Side to City Hall to toss her hat in the ring for the City Council race. "Vota por la Güera del West Side," one supporter chanted as he marched along Dolorosa Street with Radle. She will have to convince a district population that is 94 percent Latino to fill in the mark beside her Anglo name on the ballot. But Radle, who taught at J.T. Brackenridge for nine years and now runs an alternative school, believes she is well known in her district.
"I entered the race because of a sense of frustration with our representation, and I realized I had the name recognition," Radle explained. "What pushed me over was that I talked to the poor people in the district and told them I was thinking about it. They lit up when I said that. These people haven't voted in past elections."
Considered by many to be among the top three contenders for the District 5 City Council seat, Radle said she wants to "bring sense, honesty, integrity to City Council. I have a sense of cooperation and creativity, especially with a $50 million deficit. We need to look at our streets, sidewalks and code compliance, and get a picture of our economic development and job opportunities. I am very concerned about teen pregnancy, it has been cited as the No. 1 issue in this neighborhood, and there is a lot of unskilled labor here."
She supports the idea of eliminating term limits and would favor salaries for council members. "To not have salaries and with term limits on who can serve, you depend on people who are independently wealthy, or who can depend on their spouse. Maybe there is a single mother of four who can serve without working two jobs who would have a turn to represent District 5. The opportunity of the position needs to be available to anybody."
The other four candidates in District 5 were not available. Two on the Jesus Christ platform are Bill "Guillermo" Leffler, pastor of the Temple of God church, and Javier Peña Martinez is pastor of Iglesia Christo La Roca.
The other candidates who were not available are Don Wilkins Castillo, and Ramond Zavala, whose last name was converted to Zapata when an employee in the City Clerk's office notarized his campaign report, which contains no funds.
One way or another, it remains to be seen whether the next elected District 5 City Council member can stay seated for a full term in office. •DISTRICT 5 STATS
• District 5 encompasses much of the Near West Side, extending to Culebra Avenue to the north, Southcross Boulevard to the south, 36th St. SW to the west, and Prado to the northeast. The district also goes as far as South Presa near Mission Road.
• Patti Radle has raised $11,444, including $50 from former Councilwoman Maria Beriozabel and $250 from current Councilman Julián Castro. Other major contributors include Bruce and Janet Flohr, with $500 each; J. Tulios Wells, with $500, Rudi Harst at $200, and Bernard Lifshutz at $100.
• About $7,350 have flowed into Tom Lopez' coffers, including $500 contributions from David Starr, Roberto Gonzalez, and Rodric Fitzgerald.
• Henry Rosales has collected about $1,700, with no contributions more than $250. Three of his donors are from out-of-state: New York City, Columbia, Maryland, and Dallas.
• Ramond Zavala has accepted no contributions; Bill Leffler, Javier Peña Martinez, and Don Wilkins Castillo did not file a contribution report.