CONSIDER THIS: Observations of the 2014 Elections

Managing Editor

Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez

Election Day is upon us and with it the outcome of a notable voting frenzy arguably spurred by one of two motivating factors: change or satisfaction. As a wise man once said, if voters are satisfied with the community’s current state of affairs, they will reward elected officials with re-election. If dissatisfied, citizens will, in the interest of progress, hold their public servants accountable by voting them out of office.

These decisions, however, are not decided by screaming campaigners whose presence at the polls often intimidates voters rather than encourages them. And elections are definitely not decided with political signs, sample ballots or circulars. A flyer that recently advocated for candidates who are educated homeowners not on government welfare, for example, drew the ire of many, effectively serving to polarize rather than mobilize. As an individual who has not earned a college degree and does not yet own his own home, at least not for another year or two, I am also offended by the implication that a person without these advantages would not make a good leader.

Still, what is of greater offense is that some of the very people who expressed outrage about the flyer lay silent when well-known community members they’re associated with have – during this election cycle and in the past – espoused hateful rants spewing racism, classism and homophobia. In such cases, anyone who selectively decides which offense to condemn and which to ignore proves no better than the indignation they initially shook their fist at in disgust. Perhaps the integrity many of our community leaders claim to represent is only as sound as their decision making… well, so much for integrity. Or maybe it just means that San Benito still has much to learn.

Whatever the case may be, attempting to reason with the blindly supportive about these matters and more unfortunately continues to be a task worthy of the next Mission Impossible film plot. This is most unfortunate since unconditional support of any political hopeful seeking public office is as dangerous as it is irresponsible. If those within any coterie are not actively questioning the candidate they’ve thrown their support behind then that person is not only failing their campaign but the entire city.

This is why press coverage is paramount; after all, elections are decided within the pages of local newspapers, social media forums and websites that spark debate, inspire open dialogue at kitchen tables and water coolers and pose questions that demand answers. Found in the pages of every edition of the San Benito News, for instance, is evidence of all that makes this city as triumphant as it is tormented, which in turn serves to engage the public. As a result, voters are now armed with a healthy dose of current events to help them make more-informed decisions.

Within the last year alone, citizens learned that teachers and law enforcement authorities entrusted to educate and protect their children allegedly betrayed that trust; they learned that leaders charged with safeguarding the city’s interests allegedly abused their office; and they learned of the brazen use of taxpayer money to fund an investigation into the school district superintendent, which has thus far shown to have no productive end in sight – all are decisions that will likely cost local governing bodies public favor, not to mention hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars.

But consider for a moment the scintillating brilliance San Benito still wields, and that’s the simple fact that news of these matters broke as they were occurring. This is a sign of social health within a community – that our sources risked their statuses, their jobs and possibly their livelihoods to help expose perceived injustices, enfranchising a people once thought to be imprisoned by their own apathy in the process. Take no solace in this revelation; take no solace because San Benito needs no solace. The record numbers reported during early voting indicates that this town cares about its future, and so it should.

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    • Raul Rodriguez on May 11, 2014 at 7:53 am
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    Congratulations to all winners.

    Raul Rodriguez SFC FA ret Denton,Tx

    • ReformSanBenito2 on May 10, 2014 at 10:39 pm
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    Congratulations, Ms. Sanchez!!! What an honor it is to be the first female Mayor of San Benito.

    Mr. Leal, Mr. Medrano, Mr. Mendez, and Mr. Padilla…Congratulations to you all as well. It is my hope that you bring back our district’s credibility and honor.

    Mr. Steve Rodriguez, I voted for you and may this be the beginning of your political career and not the end of it.

    • ReformSanBenito2 on May 10, 2014 at 10:31 pm
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    Sorry, folks…it’s ReformSanBenito2. I got caught up with all the excitement of these election results.

    • ReformSanBentio2 on May 10, 2014 at 10:25 pm
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    Congratulations, Ms. Sanchez!!! What an honor to be the first female Mayor of San Benito. Mr. Medrano, Mr. Padilla, Mr. Leal, and Mr. Mendez….Congratulations to you all as well. It is my hope that you make SBCISD what it once was…a school district of credibility and honor.

    Mr. Steve Rodriguez, I voted for you and may this be the beginning of your political career and not the end of it.

      • ReformSanBenito2 on May 10, 2014 at 10:29 pm
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      Sorry, folks…it’s ReformSanBenito2. I got myself caught up with all the excitement of these elections.

    • Wilma on May 10, 2014 at 10:16 pm
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    Congratulations to the new San Benito Mayor Celeste Sanchez and the winners of the SBCISD Trustee Election.
    The days are now much brighter for San Benito!

    • Mayo on May 10, 2014 at 9:06 pm
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    Congratulations Mrs Sanchez. First woman mayor of San Benito.

    • Mayo on May 10, 2014 at 9:03 pm
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    Just saw the results. We got the school district back. Thank you voters. Medrano, Padilla, Leal, and Méndez all win. Now we can stop the bleeding of our tax monies.

      • Reform San Benito on May 10, 2014 at 10:31 pm
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      Mendez will be in a runoff with Huerta. Not so fast…but hopeful.

        • Yesenia on May 10, 2014 at 11:59 pm
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        I believe SBCISD election is a “plurality vote” election rather than a “majority vote” election. Unless they’ve changed it. If it is, Mr. Mendez is our winner. Best wishes to all!

          • Reform San Benito on May 11, 2014 at 6:35 am
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          Thank you for correcting me, Yesenia! Thank God, too! Don’t think I can handle the suspense!

          Congratulations Mr. Mendez! Congrats to all!

    • Mary S Contreras-Rey on May 10, 2014 at 11:28 am
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    Perhaps Brownsville ISD, city, and county “leaders” would get an opportunity to read and learn from this article.

    • Anna Ramos on May 10, 2014 at 9:36 am
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    I feel the only people polarizing the community are those who assume that the flyer meant something it didn’t say. I agree with “too little, too late” that educated doesn’t mean a college eduction and even if it did I would want an educated person making decisions, with my tax dollars, for my kids. And to that point, someone who owns property and actually pays the school taxes they are spending. I don’t know the backgrounds of all the candidates, but knowing these have this foundation gives me an initial piece of mind in our potential leadership.

      • WeThePeople on May 10, 2014 at 9:59 am
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      Anna, I agree. Any information is open to interpretation and the letter serves only as a distraction to the real issues at hand. Goethe has a great quote: The things that matter most should never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.” ‘Nuff said.

    • Too little, too late on May 9, 2014 at 10:15 pm
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    I also read the flyer and no where did it say that the candidates should have a college degree, simply “educated”. Who can say that this is a bad thing, to want people governing the city and school to have an education, whether it is an education earned from experience or one from a university. I think that the opposition is purposely making a big deal out of these people’s opinion just to win support for their side because they have nothing else to use. They are playing the “race” card and the “pobresito” card to try and win votes. But that’s just my opinion. Just like that flyer was their opinion. None of the candidates had anything to do with it… It was just the couple’s opinion. Finally, I’m glad someone had the guts to say what many of us believe… And sign their names to it.

    • Reform San Benito on May 9, 2014 at 9:23 pm
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    On the eve of this Election Day, I have much hope for my city, my neighbors and our children. While my hope is high, there are three scenarios for which I am most hopeful.

    One, that the majority that has misused its power to bully and inflict as yet unrealized harm on one man and, in turn, an entire district, is finally crushed and justice restored.

    Secondly, that the Commission and those acting in concert to abuse its power to bully and inflict as yet unrealized harm on one man and, in turn, an entire city, is finally crushed and justice restored.

    Third, and most of all, that we, as a community, can heal and move forward together in righteous prosperity that is long overdue.

    • J. B. on May 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm
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    As the Dire Straits once sung, “That’s the way to do it!”

    • WeThePeople on May 9, 2014 at 7:53 pm
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    Great job, Mr. Editor. Keep telling it like it is!

    “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism ownership of government by an individual, by a group or any controlling private power.” – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
    ” Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
    “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” – Cesar Chavez

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