CITY COUNCIL ENDORSEMENTS

A number of our regular readers have asked us who we believe would best serve Corpus Christi in the November 6 general election.  After much consideration here are our endorsements in the race to elect leaders for the next two years on our city issues.

MAYOR

Joe McComb

Joe McComb

Joe McComb

There is no other candidate more qualified to be mayor of Corpus Christi than incumbent Mayor Joe McComb. McComb has a long history of civic and public service that stretches back decades and has provided a steady hand in times of trouble such as Hurricane Harvey and issues with the city’s water system. At a time when there is a call for voters to select younger candidates, Joe McComb should be everyone’s exception because he brings a balanced view to council decisions that come only with a historical perspective on our city and what it needs.

There are four other candidates in the race: Michael Hall, Aislynn Campbell, Ray Madrigal de Pancho Villa and Dan McQueen. None of them bring the experience or qualifications to the job necessary to guide our city over the next two years.

Hall, a 28-year-old political novice who has been endorsed by the unions and other special interests, has only voted once in his life, saying he was too busy to vote during the almost ten years from his first time at the polls when he was 18 to now. An engineer, Hall says he was a part-owner and employee of an Austin company that sought to teach people to eat crickets as a part of a food sustainability program. That may sound strange to a lot of voters, but for us his voting record should disqualify him from being considered. If he was too busy to vote, he’s certainly too busy to try to run city hall.

Aislynn Campbell brings a unique vibe to the Mayor’s race. She runs a nonprofit Farmers Market and talks a lot about her vision for the city without telling us how she’s going to make that vision a reality. Nice lady, but not the leader the city needs.

The other candidates are Ray Madrigal, a perennial candidate for office that changed his name to include Pancho Villa after he says he discovered he was a descendant of the outlaw through a DNA test, and Dan McQueen, the man who was elected mayor and served for 37 days before abandoning his post and the city who elected him. Neither deserves serious consideration.

AT LARGE CANDIDATES

Selecting the best three at-large candidates was a difficult task because most of those running are personable and could do a good job on the city council.

But there were three candidates on which we could all agree – one with some experience, another with fresh new ideas and a candidate with a rare depth of knowledge about one issue – public safety – that sets her apart from others in the race.  Those three candidates are Michael Hunter and newcomers  Kaylynn Paxson  and Brandey Batey.

Michael Hunter, an insurance agent and lifetime Corpus Christi resident, has proven a good study on the Corpus Christi city council, winning one full term after finishing an appointment to replace City Councilwoman Lillian Riojas who moved to San Antonio. Now Hunter deserves a second full term on the council where he brings a solid knowledge of water and economic development issues, and has built a reputation for his decisions to solve problems without raising taxes.

Brandey Batey, is a new political candidate who is not new to politics. She served as vice chair of the Nueces County Republican Party before resigning earlier this year. She runs a 12,000 member Facebook page that helps fight crime and her support is bipartisan. Voters who don’t mind taking a chance, ought to take a chance on Batey, but the candidate herself needs to move beyond her focus on fighting crime and look at other important issues facing the city.

Kaylynn Paxson, a marketing manager from North Padre Island, has grown tremendously in her depth of knowledge about city issues since making the decision to run for office. She is a fresh young face whose love of Corpus Christi comes across in each of her speeches. While she may not be able to get down in the weeds on the details of what is happening at city council,  she is a glowing cheerleader for the future of Corpus Christi – and every city council needs people who will think outside the box to bring a vision to the city.

Also running is John Garcia, a food truck operator and hospitality industry employee, who brings some good ideas to the race, but has failed to show what would put him above any of the other candidates.

It probably comes as a surprise to some that we didn’t endorse two incumbent council members who are seeking re-election. Both Rudy Garza and Paulette Guajardo have done a decent job of representing their constituents but fail to show us why we should stick with them for another term. Both of them are advertising heavily, showing that they are worried about a group of new people with new visions for our city. We thank them for their past service but feel like it may be time to move on.

Rudy Garza served as the District 5 city councilman until he recently moved downtown with his wife. That wasn’t in his district and he decided to seek an At-Large position on the Corpus Christi City Council. Garza is good on water issues and infrastructure but he hasn’t taken the leadership role he should have taken with so much experience on the council. We thank him for his service and wish him the best as he begins this new empty nester life in another part of town.

Paulette Guajardo has proven adept at learning how to maneuver in a political environment beyond most people’s expectations. She’s smart, informed and has developed a gamesmanship on the political front second to none. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but she often oversteps the boundaries of good judgement and seems to be reading responses by her political consultants or giving well-rehearsed answers on the council. She has been accused of taking credit for ideas that she didn’t champion, and most importantly has taken more money from unions with contracts before the city than any other city council candidate. Accepting special interest money may not in itself be a disqualifier for city council, but voting on issues where special interest donors have a strong financial stake is not in the best interest of the city or the city council. It’s also a shame. Paulette Guajardo had the opportunity and the ability to be a top notch leader … but she needs to examine where her loyalties lie, with special interests or the people who elected her.  Because of that, Paulette gets our thanks but not our endorsement.

DISTRICT 1: Everett Roy

Roy Everett

Roy Everett

Everett Roy. a banker, has already proven a valuable asset on the council with strong financial background. His opponent Julian Fiero is a nice young man but nice young men don’t always turn out to be the best council members. Roy, on the other hand, brings diversity and strength to the council seat. He was appointed to the position to replace Carolyn Vaughn, who was appointed as County Commissioner in Precinct 1.

DISTRICT 2: Ben Molina

There are several candidates trying to beat incumbent Ben Molina in what many feel will be a tight race. We are particularly impressed with R.J. Torres, who in any other situation would be at the top of our list on who to endorse. However, there’s really no good reason to replace Ben Molina who worked hard to win his first term and has been a strong believer in keeping his constituents informed. Molina gets our nod.

DISTRICT 3: Eric Cantu

We have some concerns about the huge support of Cantu from city public employee unions, but Eric Cantu, a car salesman and former tow truck operator, will do the best job of representing District 3. He has the endorsement of Lucy Rubio and Priscilla Leal, the two previous council members, and has worked extremely hard to win this position. He knows the district and will represent it well.

DISTRICT 4: Greg Smith

Greg Smith, the owner of a resort near Port Aransas, has lived in Corpus Christi a lifetime and his family connections to our city go back to the time of Zachary Taylor. That’s all interesting and makes for some great stories, but it’s not why DIstrict 2 resident should return Greg Smith to city council. The reason to vote for Greg Smith is that Corpus Christi needs him on the vcouncil for his expertise on numerous issues and his ability to make tough issues easy to understand. It would be easy to note that even though we may sometimes disagree with Greg on his votes, Greg Smith is arguably the smartest person on the council and deserves another term to help move Corpus Christi forward.

DISTRICT 5: Paul Thurman

Paul Thurman

Paul Thurman

There are four good candidates running for City Council in District 5, but one, Paul Thurman, stands out from the others seeking this seat which represents much of our city’s Southside. Thurman, the executive director of the Nueces County Republican Party, isn’t the best speaker in the group, but his ability to listen to all the citizens of this district makes him a much more valuable asset to his constituents and the city council. Thurman knows how to work in a bipartisan manner when it comes to making a difference for our city, working for both State Rep. Todd Hunter and State Rep. J.M. Lozano in the past, and has a strong knowledge of working with others that will benefit the city as it deals with new legislative laws governing local government.

Thurman is active in several church and civic activities. He moved to Corpus Christi several years ago to work in the campaign of State Rep. Todd Hunter and loved the city so much, he couldn’t leave. He will be a reasonable, fiscally conservative voice on the city budget, taxes and on helping small businesses, something that is needed on the council.

The other candidates are:

Gil Hernandez, a consultant who was formerly with Coca-Cola, is a candidate with some name recognition since he has run unsuccessfully for city council and county commissioner in the past. Hernandez, who did a good job while serving on the Regional Transportation Authority, also developed a reputation of someone who was hard to work with and divisive. Too bad, because otherwise he would be a good elected official.

Carlos Torres, the former president of the Firefighters union, is a personable and bright prospect for the political arena in some race that did not deal with the pension plan for firefighters, police and other public employees. Ethically, if he wins, Torres should recuse himself from any contract negotiations on the pension plans, from which he will personally benefit. The fact that he hasn’t said he will follow that course, and the fact that he is receiving thousands of dollars in donations and help from those who will also benefit from his vote, takes him out of consideration in our book and threatens the ethics of the city council.

Eric Rodriguez, a 30-year-old hazardous waste disposer is one of the youngest candidates running for office, but while he talks a good game about creating jobs in our city, Rodriguez has given no concrete ideas on how to make that happen.

Anyway, that’s our take on the candidates. You make up your own mind, and no matter who you choose to vote for, get out and vote.

 

This editorial is the opinion of the staff and contributors for OUR CITY MAGAZINE

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