First, there was Juan Diego, and then I fell for Diego Rivera, and now, I'm thinking there might be room for another Diego in my heart. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Diego Bernal is getting my vote this Saturday in the election for the District 1 seat on City Council. But my reasons for choosing Bernal aren't purely political.
Sure, he's put in his time doing his fair share of good deeds: obtaining his graduate degree in social work, transitioning young gang members into the workforce in Detroit, helping to improve literacy of at-risk youth in Harlingen, and working at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund right here in San Antonio, advocating and litigating on behalf of working people, children, and immigrant communities. But, unlike many politicians, the guy is more than his credentials.
Born to a farmworker and an educator, Bernal grew up in San Antonio and was raised in a single-parent home by his mother. He is a product of our public school system, graduating from Arnold Elementary, Tafolla Middle School, and Thomas Jefferson High School. About his education, Bernal says, "Like my mom, I believe in San Antonio’s public schools and believe we should do all we can to prepare our students for the future." Despite all my ramblings about how our public schools are chewing kids up and spitting them out, Bernal is living proof that not everyone has to live up to the standards that are set for them or the predisposition their community or culture delivers to them.
In his spare time (and who knows how he finds any), Bernal is also a District 1 business investor and avid musician (see fairly awesome self-portrait above). Yep, those delicious cervezas you're sipping in Southtown at The Friendly Spot have been made possible in part by Bernal. Realizing that he must give back to the city what it has given him, Bernal isn't taking his economic contributions elsewhere. He looks forward "to working with San Antonio’s business community and helping them pursue their projects, enhance San Antonio’s economic development, and foster job and long-term career opportunities."
I know we've got several qualified candidates vying for their taste of the glory. But Diego Bernal is, in this writer's humble opinion, the people's candidate. His struggles are our struggles, his goals our own. But if you don't agree, and if I haven't convinced you of anything else so far, I hope I've at least given you an incentive to vote in the City Council election tomorrow, even if it means voting against my choice for the highly coveted District 1 seat.