Jade Eseteban Estrada
Adriana Rocha Garcia
As I sit across from Adriana Rocha Garcia, a first-time candidate for the District 4 seat on San Antonio's city council, it's clear she understands the stakes in Saturday's runoff election.
Rocha Garcia led with 47% of the vote in the general election, which could bode well for her success. However, one factor isn't running in her favor: a portion of the electorate believes that Rocha Garcia, an assistant professor of marketing at Our Lady of the Lake University, won the open council seat last month. That means she’s been forced to explain to voters, in person and online, that in reality she's headed into a runoff against opponent Johnny Arredondo.
Seated at a long table at Tripoli's Mediterranean Grill and Coffee Shop on Valley Hi Drive, Rocha Garcia explains that campaign lingo is sometimes lost to people who live in her increasingly conservative Southwest San Antonio district.
But her enthusiasm to educate her neighborhood about the runoff is high, and she seems good natured about the inherent challenges of summer block walking.
Last week, one man answered the door and called out to his wife, "Hey, honey! It's that new council girl!"
Nervously, Rocha Garcia replied, "Nooooo! It's actually not the new council girl!" She thanked the couple for their enthusiasm but informed them they would need to vote again.
The man looked at her, perplexed. "But... you won," he said. "Forty-eight percent of the vote, when I went to sleep. That's what the TV was saying."
However, after a brief explanation, he understood and pledged to vote for her again.
Rocha Garcia stresses the importance of using bug spray when knocking on doors. Some members of her campaign team are recovering, albeit slowly, from a severe case of chigger bites. She later discovered that she was also allergic to the medication. But her eagerness to stay on the trail is a stronger itch.
If Rocha Garcia wins, she would become the first female representative of the district. Her predecessor, 32-year-old Rey Saldaña, was council’s youngest member.
But even that bit of trivia sometimes falls through the cracks, Rocha Garcia points out.
"On a block walk, this man said, 'Yeah, I'll probably vote for you, 'cause Rey... he's getting old. We need someone younger.'"
Rocha Garcia, who's 39, laughs about the exchange, saying she wasn't sure if she should break the news to the man. Instead, she decided to "just slip away quietly and thank him for his vote."
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