Our undercooked Saturday election might as well be taking place somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, in a rainforest of aborigines vying for a spot on the highest tree canopy, for all the local interest in selecting San Antonio’s next group in charge of our $1.8-billion City budget.
Would it surprise you, then, to know that somewhere in Washington state there’s an answering machine playing an Alec Baldwin-esque tirade against one of the leading Council candidates? Would it titillate you to know that the hottest race on our ballot, in a U.S. Congressman’s opinion, is one that threatens an incumbent?
If you get past the frost of uncontested City Council seekers and a turnout-inhibiting City bond (not promoted much in the Hispanic community, a friend of Phil even said), you just may find a few races worth watching — and voting in.
Se7en: Bloodbath on the Ballot
A friend of mine is in a bilingual play where Spanish words are quickly followed by their English translation, like, “Steve Nash is heroic, but he’s just one man facing las Espuelas, the Spurs.”
That’s not a line from the play, it’s just something that comes to mind in the race for 7, a curious district that runs from inside the urban Loop near Woodlawn Lake clear out past 1604 to Helotes Creek. Currently the environmentalist-gay incumbent, Elena Guajardo, stares down a team of detractors — a mishmash of business interests that seem to buoy candidates in line with Chamber priorities, like the Good Government League used to (that old GGL cucuy, boogeyman).
At the recent KLRN candidate forum Guajardo said as much, admitting that her zoning votes may protect the Edwards Aquifer, but they piss off developers. And so we have what one Democratic operative with her fingers in four relatively easy SA races* dubs “the bloodbath” on the ballot, Guajardo vs. Justin Rodriguez, a lawyer and San Antonio Independent School District board trustee (“Developer’s choice,” May 1 – 8).
This race is an important one for the environment and for community activists, to hear grassroots operatives tell it. And they want to keep Guajardo. “She voted with us when the chips were down at the `Metropolitan Planning Organization`,” anti-toll-roads icon Terri Hall wrote in an email endorsement. Local ACLU boardmembers and the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center were mighty grateful to Guajardo (and term-limited Councilwoman Patti Radle) for pulling a City agenda item that would have attached new permit fees and penalties to political organizing (“Moderately priced speech,” March 21-27), possibly curtailing chants of “¡Si, Se Puede!” Yes, We Can!
Another Dem operative told me he expects Guajardo to win “by a whisper,” but added the Doubting Thomases are speaking in hushed, judgmental tones about her sexuality and the Graham Central Station suicide (“Death in District 7,” December 26, 2006 - January 1, 2007). T.J. “Nostradamus” Connolly predicts she’s una persona arruinada, a goner.
*Five is Easy, Not Peaceful
Districts 3 and 4 aren’t offering the political slugfest you’ve come to expect, says campaign sign hanger Henry Farias. The South Side is typically where City politics is played dirtiest, where signs are booby-trapped with dry-wall screws stuck in plywood to give sign vandals a foot-full. “It’s like being in Vietnam,” says Farias.
Perhaps the nastiness has shifted counterclockwise to the District 5 race, to frontrunner Lourdes Galvan, who came in second for the seat in 2001. If this open seat with a half-dozen candidates goes to a June runoff, there’s no doubt we’ll see the cinnamon-haired lady there — we’ve seen the former Radle aide’s photo on campaign signs all over the West Side. Someone also appropriated her image and (poorly) Xeroxed it onto a libelous mailer, which directed folks to call a phone number the Current traced to an unlisted land line outside Seattle, Washington. WTF? Callers hear a man who identifies himself as Bobby Joyner send a prayer out to candidate and former David Garcia-staffer Ralph Gomez, and hurl unsubstantiated mud at Galvan, a retired Kelly union president. (Galvan wasn’t even a union officer during the scandal Joyner mistakenly pins her with.)
Radle endorsed Galvan to represent the Westside district facing crime and seniors issues, a legal fight to address the Mirasol Homes mold, and possible development of the asbestos-contaminated Big Tex site next to Blue Star. Candidate Gilbert Gallegos is trying to invalidate the endorsement, portraying Radle as someone who promised not to hand the palace keys to a successor.
“When I ran the first time in 2003, that race had been preceded by 12 years of seated City Council members hand-picking, ‘anointing,’ their replacement,” Radle responded to the Current. “They did this by leaving office before their term was up, picking someone to replace them, and getting that person approved by council. `Walter Martinez left early and appointed Juan Solis; Juan left early and appointed Richard Vasquez; Richard Vasquez left early and appointed David Garcia.` I said I would not leave office early and repeat that pattern.”
LULAC president Rosa Rosales said the all-male contenders are just picking on Galvan.
Goddess City Guidance
I’ve heard all kinds of predictions for one of the wealthiest districts in San Antonio, term-limited Councilman Art Hall’s 8, and the only constant is we’re going to a June runoff. The two-person combination varies, and sometimes alights upon a woman. One source points out how it’s possible San Antonio may have a majority-female City Council for the first time in history. That’s six estrogen-fueled votes. 1: Mary Alice Cisneros, the presumed frontrunner that the late journalist Molly Ivins once called a “campaigner in her own right”; 2: incumbent Sheila McNeil, who got a campaign lift opposing Redifuel storage tanks on the East Side; 5: Galvan; 6: incumbent Delicia Herrera; 7: Guajardo; and what if 8 buys into serious fundraiser Diane Cibrian’s tax-relief promises that the daily calls garbage? Really, District 8 is anybody’s guess.
Tune in next week for election analysis