Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Editorial: Politics And The Many Distortions ... The Race for Mayor of Corpus Christi

It is very obvious at this point that the election for the top post (mayor) of Corpus Christi is going to be elemental, a race between Incumbent Mayor Henry Garrett and challenger Joe Adame. There is a third candidate that threw his name in but at this point seems to be of little consequence.

Some in Mayor Garrett's corner are very confident -- but should they? This camp argues that candidate Adame failed to start early on to nurture an organization. Some add that he enrolled Jeff Butler as a consultant -- who has been described by some political elders who has a tract record of not being able to reach the ginormous Hispanic population effectively -- will cost him the elect. The latter point will be a chief variable.

The voters have to be propelled to welcome change, but when a large number feel that the current mayor is both well liked and is well respected, it is difficult to translate the mentioned dynamic in a consistent course. Some, nonetheless, even from many a divergent corner of the political spectrum claim that handing out awards and putting on a "nice and friendly" face should not be the craze to get reelected -- i.e., for an incumbent. In an age of local and national economic crisis many are getting tired of PR rituals by incumbents. One of the major reoccurring question is is if Garrett has been a "Strong" or "Weak" mayor when it comes to developing the local economy.

Can an incumbent like Garret win without a "strong" track record in boosting the local economy? Of course. The truth is that it can be the case when a challenge does not have a campaign staff that is out of pulse and does not channel the resources and native intellectual vim on his side. Bluntly stated: some perceive Adame as as part of the upperly ups; a more human, representative picture that catenates him with the masses has to be done, but with cultural sensitivity.

Adame can surprise his skeptics if enrolls the essential cadres and footsoldiers. The public needs to be approached on various fronts as the election gets closer. He has native roots in the working class community, but so far it has not piped down through the various layers and rungs of the local burg. He is the son of a popular and well-known pharmacist who had businesses both in Robstown and Corpus Christi. Many a resident used to refer to his father simply as "Tano." The cultural programming to make a better life for his family is there. This is Joe Adame's wiring, his friends have vociferated, despite the bias generalizations that have been brought up recently in tight circles.

Some local political strategists emphasize that Adame has to highlight that he is part of the free enterprise system, and not a byproduct of stoic government occupational promotions and bureaucracy. "It is difficult to put Adame in a box and say he is for the most part HISPANIC; the opposite is true also: he is more than just a successful Hispanic who is a broker for commercial properties," a supporter said. On the other hand, Mayor Garrett was a police officer and went on to become Police Chief. His tenure as Chief was not (according to his critics) "something to brag about" but it legitimized him in the culture of offialdom. Some of his harsh critics go as far as to state that Garret was somewhat did not tout his horn loud enough as a police Chief and the department at the time -- some rumors have it was frequently run by an elite of officers who muscled themselves via their assertiveness into the decision making turf.

Not too long ago, Mayor Garrett was referred to on a radio talk show programs as "the friendliest and most likeable mayor the city has had so far." It was added: "I don't understand how he could have been police chief."

On the other side of the coin, Adame has not surprised many yet. The positive side is that there is no box with a stigma stamped on it that pins him down as an identifiable target -- that is a target to be peppered by the incumbent and/or his supporters.

Mayor Garrett is the incumbent and there are many issues that still hover in the minds of many residents: he has been both likeable and respected -- to iterate.

Some Hispanics supporting Garrett claim he is too acculturated to middle-class and upper class Anglo culture. Molina Barrio Activist David Noyola said: "Para mi Adame not tiene nada de Hispano" (Adame does not have any qualities of Hispanic heritage that impress me so far); others, claim he is not a typical Hispanic that was born and reared in the barrio and can smoothly summon a flamboyant Tejano phrase to spice up the chat. "Does he put chili on his taco?" one Garrett supporter bandied.

The truth is that if one looks for faults in any candidate; one will (more than likely) find them. According to cultural and spiritual lore, humans in general are imperfect. However, questions have to be asked: Does an Hispanic to be qualified to run for mayor have to be both born and raised in the barrio? For too long this tactic of divide and conquer has been used.

For too long Hispanics were told by old political Jefes that they lacked an articulate Hispanic to run for mayor. "Well, the time has come: for an Hispanic to prove that he can be more than just an Hispanic leader with his tongue stapled to the old school of nativisitic nationalism," one local businessman said.

"Adame is as American as 'Apple Pie' and as Hispanic as a 'gordita.' If he hasn't mastered the intricate grammar and syntax of the Spanish Language: it's okay. It is the intentions in his heart," one supporter chimed in. Adame told El Defenzor newspaper: "I do my best to connect my corazon to my eyes. What else can you ask from someone running for office?"

A few weeks from now, you might ask again: "Who is Joe Adame?" ... I bet you will answer that he is "more like us" than we first realized. However, currently, Mayor Garrett some informal polls show is way ahead of the game. "If the election were to be held today, Garrett would surf to victory easily," a local contractor told this publication.

No comments: