This board has long been impressed by Councilmember James Rodriguez’s tenure on the City Council, representing District I. In our opinion, he has served both his community and the greater City quite exceptionally. Now, after three successful terms on the City Council, the time has come for his successor to be chosen.
The race consists of four candidates: Leticia Ablaza, Robert Gallegos, Graciana Garces and Ben Mendez. Each candidate represents a different facet of the community, and deserves special recognition for such representation. Serendipitously, these associations perfectly mirror a recent State Senate election in District 6, a largely overlapping constituency.
First, this board has admired the honesty and bravery of Leticia Ablaza’s campaign. While we largely disagree with the political positions of Ms Ablaza, and believe they would be antithetical to the success of the district, this board is impressed by how well she has stuck to her guns, in spite of unyielding criticism and unpopularity. Simply put, we believe that Ms Ablaza would become a second Helena Brown if elected to the Houston City Council, making symbolic no votes at every opportunity, something this City absolutely cannot afford.
Additionally, this board has been shocked and appalled by some of the allegations against Ben Mendez. Back in May, the Mendez campaign circulated unflattering photos of one of his opponents, Ms Garces, in an attempt to disparage her weight. Further, just last month, one of Mendez’s most prominent backers, Bill Lawson, publicly rescinded his support after Mendez allegedly made comments expressing sympathy with child gang-rapists. The unspeakably offensive action on the part of Mr Mendez disgusts this board, and we urge strongly that, whomever you vote for, you do not vote for Mr Mendez.
Then there is Robert Gallegos. This board originally underestimated Mr Gallegos’ candidacy, prematurely writing him off as a duplicate candidate with no natural constituency. However, we would be remiss not to note that such a characterization would be incorrect. Mr Gallegos has set himself apart from the other candidate, running a clear, no-nonsense campaign.
The fourth candidate is, of course, Graciana Garces. The chief of staff of the incumbent Councilmember, Ms Garces boasts the endorsement of Councilmember James Rodriguez. In fact, Mr Rodriguez has supported Ms Garces’ candidacy with noticeable zeal. While this board often defers to incumbents unless a compelling case may be made as to why they have failed, we do not extend this same courtesy to the designated-heirs of incumbents.
In a strange yet surprising development, this board has observed that these two candidates, Mr Gallegos & Ms Garces, resemble the candidates in the special election held earlier this year in the overlapping Senate District 6. Mr Gallegos has the backing of State Senator and former County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, while Ms Garces has the backing of State Representative Carol Alvarado. Ms Garces’ campaign is also managed my Marc Campos, just as Ms Alvarado’s was.
The astute will remember that, in the Senate election, this board endorsed Sylvia Garcia because of concerns we had about possible Republican financial influences upon the Alvarado-Campos brain trust. We now have similar reservations about Ms Garces’ candidacy.
Additionally, this board notes that Mr Gallegos is the only candidate among the two to have a permanent residency in District I for an extended amount of time. By comparison, Ms Garces moved into the district barely one year before the election. In this board’s opinion, such an exercise is little more than thinly-veiled carpetbagging. We find it inconsistent with the needs of the District.
Accordingly, this board endorses Robert Gallegos for the Houston City Council District I.
A dissent to the editorial was also submitted
In short, I humbly disagree with my colleagues on this board. Ms Garces is the most qualified candidate running for this District, and she deserves our endorsement.
First, I believe that Councilmember Rodriguez has been an invaluable asset to our community, serving as one of the most honest, integral politicians in the City. His endorsement is a testament to all Ms Garces will be able to do if she is elected to the City Council.
Second, Ms Garces, despite not living within the District until fairly recently, has been more engrossed and involved within the district than the vast majority of its lifelong constituents. Her experience serving as Councilmember Rodriguez’s chief of staff has given Ms Garces invaluable insights into the needs of this unique district.
Ultimately I believe this makes Graciana Garces the best choice for the Houston City Council District I
–Andrew Scott Romo
The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey & Noah M. Horwitz of Boston and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans.