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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Two of Three GNWCIA Debates: Over...

As I briefly posted earlier, The Great Northwest Community Improvement Association hosted the first of three debates related to the elections for Council seats in Districts 6 & 7 and the Mayoral race for San Antonio.Last night, two candidates, Ray Lopez and Anna Caballero were kind enough to meet with residents, answer questions both before and after the debate, and of course, participate in the debate moderated by Dr. Eric Cooper, a resident of Silver Creek (and my neighbor I might add).

The format for the debate included a opening remarks by each candidate up to 5 minutes, then taking turns answering predetermined questions with a time limit of 3 minutes. Finally, because time allowed, Eric let several residents ask questions from the audience and each candidates answered them. At the end, both candidates again had the opportunity to make a closing statement.

I am always looking for an opportunity to make fun of someone, but in the case of both Ms. Caballero and Mr. Lopez, there simply was nothing to pick out from either that was worthy of tickling a funny bone. I believe both of these folks are serious and qualified for the position, and regardless of which won wins, our district will be well represented.

The questions were crafted to give a topic then allow each candidate to give their thoughts and ideas on the topic. They were each allotted 3 minutes to answer. Paraphrased, they were:
  • 1604 between Culebra and Bandera - this was basically the toll road question
  • Thoughts on the need for more SAPD officers
  • What to do about graffiti/tagging
  • Daytime curfew for school aged children
  • Section 8 homes concentrated in areas
  • Animal Care Services
  • If elected, how will the council person be accessible to constituents
I'm not going to attempt to recap the responses given, but suffice it to say, in every case, one may have given a slightly better response than the other, but both candidates were within my comfort zone. When the debate was over, my wife and I compared notes and we both agreed that there was in fact a winner for us, but unlike my opinions on Chicken Fried Steak, Pulled Pork, Hamburgers and Catfish, I'm not going to say who we thought was better.


The GNWCIA hosted the second debate this evening, this time for the District 7 Candidates. The three attendees were Mr. Robert Garibay, Ms. Elena Guajardo, and the incumbent, Mr. Justin Rodriguez.
Following the same format, Moderator Eric Cooper once again did a great job in guiding the candidates through the same questions (tweaked only slightly for adjustment of the 1604/toll roads issue).

I'm embarrassed to say that I was embarrassed at the small crowd for the District 6 debate where we had about 30 folks. Embarrassed because tonight, we had two residents from District 7 show up, and the remaining audience were either curious observers (like me) from District 6 or members of the candidates staff. Honestly, it is humiliating to live in such a huge association with such a potentially huge voting block and so few people simply don't give a flip about the candidates.
But the candidates did not show a sign of disappointment in the small crowd. Each answered the questions and when it was over and the moderator apologized for the small turn-out, all three handled it with class and still complimented the association and the community. So there you have it - they like y'all more than I do!

About the candidates. First, in case you were not aware, Robert Garibay is an 18 year-old college student. In talking with him before the debate, he is extremely mature for an 18 year old and this whole being a youngster running for the council is not some sort of gimmick or a ploy; he is serious and committed. The young man speaks well, is smart and no doubt has a future in some sort of business and probably politics. Having given the obligatory build-up, I must say, Mr. Garibay, in my opinion is not ready for this level of service. I'm usually of the mindset that "anybody but the incumbent" is a good answer, but in this case, my advice would be for this talented kid to get just a bit more experience under his belt.

Elena Guajarda actually held the seat she is running for prior to being soundly womped by the incumbent, Justin Rodriguez. I'm not a District 7 voter, but I can help you with your selection by saying a single word: George Dickerson. Okay, that is a name.

But that situation alone should not be an automatic vote for Mr. Rodriguez. I will tell you that in spite of the fact that Mr. Rodriguez was late for the debate - he was in contact with his staff during the 45 minute drive up Culebra to give the audience updates on his status - he simply outshone the other two candidates in his responses.

Young Mr. Garibay had 3 minutes to answer the questions and other than his opening and closing remarks which were very well done, he summed up his answers to every question in about a minute, leaving valuable time to elaborate on the clock.

Ms. Guajarda used her allotted 3 minutes to relive her time on the council and remind us that she was a full time council member that could be in touch with the community. Technically, this was a slam on the incumbent, but the moderator let it go time after time. To his credit, at the end, Mr. Rodriguez, in summing up his qualifications reminded all two residents of District 7 in attendance, that he was pretty much ushered in to his seat on the council after Ms. Guajardo's term.

I'm not here to tell you how to vote. I'd prefer that many of you could have simply made the effort to show up and see the forum first hand. Those of you who don't live here get a pass.


Tomorrow night - 8 April 2009 at 7:30, the candidates for Mayor will be at 8809 Timberwilde. Please, if you live in the area, come and join us. I can only take so much humiliation!

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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