The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Friday, April 08, 2005

Around SA, part IV

Today we take a look at Districts 6 & 7. Around SA parts I, II, and III looked at the races for City Counil in Districts 1-5 & 8-10. Later today, we will also take a look at just how much money each candidate for Mayor and City Council has left 30 days out.

District 6-

District 6 has 8 candidates looking to replace outgoing City Councilman Enrique Barrera. These 8 candidates can be grouped into two sets of four. The major candidate group and the minor candidate group. The major candidate group includes Larry Romo, Dominick Dina, Ray Lopez, and Delicia Herrera.

Larry Romo
is running for this seat for the 2nd time. Romo originally ran against Barrera in 2001, taking 2nd place with about 22% of the vote, but ultimately losing to Barrera in the general election. Since then Romo has tried to entrench himself in the district, becoming president of his neighborhood association, serving on the District 6 Bond Oversight committee, and serving on numerous other city and district wide committees. Romo, an Air Force Academy graduate and retired USAF Lt. Colonel, has styled himself as the anti-establishment, people's candidate. Romo has personally blockwalked nearly 6,000 homes (not including what his volunteers have walked) and has garnered the endorsements of the SA Firefighters Assoc., the Bexar County Deputy Sheriff's Assoc., the AFL-CIO, and Bexar County Sheriff Ralph Lopez. But now, the candidate cannot do it all by himself anymore. Romo needs a good swath of volunteer support to help continue his campaign and make it successful. Romo's campaign has been run on a shoestring budget with his 2004 end of year report showing him with over $5,000 in the bank.

Dominick Dina is the fiscal conservative in the group. Dina served as Chief of Staff to District 8 Councilwoman Bonnie Connor, and lived in District 8 until the last city re-districting round. Dina is knowledgeable and well-spoken on city issues. Dina is also, however, extremely abrasive and arrogant. So much so that he has not garnered substantial support in his own neighborhood. Dina will also have a tough time making inroads into the near West side neighborhoods in the district as he is the only candidate of the eight to not have a Hispanic surname. And while Dina is out blockwalking, it has not been to the extent that Romo has. Additionally, with his network being in District 8, Dina looks to have a tough go in District 6. At the end of 2004, Dina showed $1,442 in the bank at the end of 2004.

Ray Lopez looks to be the establishment candidate in District 8. Lopez is a former Northside Independent School District trustee (1990-1999) and is the chair of the San Antonio Domestic Violence Task Force. Lopez is running on a platform of increased city cooperation with schools, crime prevention, and water protection/safety. Lopez has been endorsed by the SA Police Officer's Association and has blockwalked the district, but again, not to the extent that Romo has. He does seem to have won the fundraising race in this district, reporting over $11,000 on-hand at the end of 2004. $10,000 of which, however, comes from a personal loan. While Lopez' work on the NISD school board does afford him a moderate amount of name ID, his tenure on the school board ended six years ago, and he is not known in the near West side communities. Lopez has also had a tough time following the law. Lopez held a raffle at a fundraiser last year where he gave away prizes at the very end. Which is a no-no as only churches, volunteer fire departments, and non-profit organizations may do that in Texas. Still his money, and the fact that he is supported by developer and lobbyist interests makes him a major player among this group of four.

Delicia Herrera is the fourth, and final, member of this group. Herrera is a lifelong resident of District 6 and is the only major candidate who resides in the near Westside communities of the district. Herrera also happens to be the only female candidate running in District 6. Herrera is running on the catchy slogan of, "Open mind policy, open door practice." Herrera also has a campaign ensemble who have been out blockwalking aggressively in recent weeks. Herrera's problems however, stem from the fact that she entered the race awfully late and that she is a relative unknown in the other portions of her district. Because of her late entry, she did not file a end of year finance report, so the soon to be released 30 days out finance numbers will be our first signs of what she has been able to do monetary wise. But if there is one candidate hardcharging from the back of the back, it would be Herrera.

The four minor candidates are- Ray Pena, Saul Santos, Pete Galaviz, and Michael Gonzales.

Ray Pena could be seens as the most serious of the four minor candidates. Pena shows up to every debate/forum, has professionally produced lit., and has some sign of support in the community. However, Pena does not seem to have a good grasp of the city issues, and has not done a great deal of grassroots outreach. Pena also entered the race fairly late, and does not have a campaign finance report posted yet. Pena could make a fair amount of noise if he could raise enough money to send a mailer or two.

Saul Santos
is the youngest person in the race at 24. Santos is the founder and president of a non-profit organization that provides food, clothing, and youth programs to the underserved in the community. Santos is also a member of the Mayor's task force on hunger and homelessness. Santos is available at every debate and forum and seems to be serious about running. Santos, however, has absolutely zero grassroots outreach going, and outside of the streets where he and and his family live, not much visibility. Another late entry into the race, Santos has not filed a campaign finance report yet. Still he's doing more than two other candidates are.

Michael Gonzales and Pete Galaviz are the absolute bottom of the barrel in this race. Sometimes attendees of the neighborhood forums/debates, Gonzales and Galaviz are the least active of any of the 8 candidates running. With no grassroots outreach visible, and no campaign finance report available, let's just say that these two candidates are fighting for the honor of finishing 8th in a 8-person race and move on.

This group runs the gamut, and it will be extremely hard for any candidate to obtain the necessary simple majority in the general election to avoid a run-off. If the election were held today, I believe that Romo and Lopez would make it into the run-off, with Dina 3rd, Herrera 4th, Pena 5th, and Santos, Gonzales, and Galaviz fighting it out at the bottom. But it's not happening today, and Herrera is making a grassroots push that could see her jump past Dina into third and maybe even muddle up the run-off picture. Or maybe Lopez has some more trouble following the law and Romo doesn't get the necessary volunteer help that is needed and Dina and Herrera move into the run-off. Who knows right now.

District 7-

District 7 is also another packed race with an additional 8 candidates in this race. There was a ninth candidate in the race, Gerald Lee, who was actually the candidate supported by Julian Castro and Ed Garza (as this is their native district). Unfortunately, Lee has a alleged DUI problem and left the race. We're gonna do the same thing as I did for District 6 and break them down into major and minor candidate groups. The major candidates are- Elena Guajardo, Cynthia Test, Noel Suniga, and Ted McDonald.

Elena Guajardo is a retired SBC executive who now helps run Respite Care of San Antonio, an emergency shelter for children with disabilities. Guajardo is a member of the San Antonio Human Rights Campaign and the San Antonio Affirmative Action Advisory Committee. Guajardo is running as an outsider, committed to ending the 'good o'l boy' system at City Hall. Guajardo's campaign has been extremely slow to get off the ground, with yard signs just starting to pop up. Guajardo parted ways with her campaign manager in 2004 (the person now runs Ray Lopez' campaign in District 6) and has been running her campaign almost by herself. Guajardo raised and spent over $5,000 in 2004 and took out a $15,000 personal loan. Guajardo's campaign seems to be barely treading water right now.

Cynthia Test is a small-business owner who has appeared on Oprah(!). Test has a myriad of experiences on a variety of boards and community outreach organizations. Test is running to help improve District 7's infrastructure and help manage the flooding problems that plague this district. Test has garnered the endorsements of the AFL-CIO and the Bexar County Deputy Sheriff''s Assoc. Test has a distinguished lists of endorsements on her website, but there is a bit of deception going on there. The Honorable Melissa Castro, former City Councilwoman, is actually a former City Councilwoman for the small city of Balcones Heights which District 7 surrounds, not San Antonio. Melissa Castro is also Test's daughter. But anyways, Test is a late-entry into this race, and therefore does not have a campaign finance report up, but has done a very good job of campaigning.

Noel Suniga is an immigration attorney looking to chart a new path for District 7. Suniga is a fiscal conservative who is also a member of the Jefferson Woodlawn Lake Community Development Corporation. Suniga raised over $2700 in 2004, and only spent $125 of it in '04. Suniga has also done a very good job of aggressive, voter outreach as his yard signs show. Suniga is most likely the wildcard in this race.

Ernie McDonald is a USAA employee who has grown up in District 7. Although he does not have a website, McDonald does to be pretty serious. McDonald is a graduate of John Marshall HS, San Antonio College, and the University of Texas- Austin. McDonald worked as an Admin. Assistant to someone at City Council (he doesn't say who) and has been a regular at various neightborhood association meetings. His major contributors (they account for nearly half of his money) are two gentleman out of Houston. McDonald support is not widely seen as Suniga, Test, and Guajardo's is, but at least the gentleman is trying.

The minor candidate are: Reinnette Alecozay, Fred Rangel, Ted Kenyon, and Jim Valdez. Because this post has taken me hours to put up, I'm just going to leave you with their website addresses and the fact that as of the end of 2004, not a single one of them had raised a penny. If these guys have gone out and fundraised a whole lot of money or if I see something different on the ground, then we'll go more indepth. But until then, this is all they get. Fred Rangel does look like the most promising of these four candidates.

Much like District 6, it's going to be extremely tough for any candidate to avoid a run-off. I believe that Test and Suniga occupy the top two spots right now, with Guajardo floundering in third. If Guajardo can right the ship in the last month, then maybe she can eek by Suniga or Test and enter a run-off.

One final thanks to www.saelections.com, their amazing work in collecting as much information as they can is an invaluable service. Check back later on today for the updated cash on0hand numbers for every council and mayoral candidate.