Saturday, May 2, 2015
EDITORIAL: ROBSTOWN MAYOR RACE HEATED!!!!!!
The current race for mayor of Robstown is heated and difficult -- pitting friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor -- but it is the only representative democratic process that exists -- that is, ballot box democracy. The incumbent Rodrigo “Rod” Ramon Jr. is being challenged by two challengers: Mandy Barrera (former city councilperson) and Victor Orona (a former school board member). And the ole truism that politics is about power is at issue. It indispensably requires a difficult choice.
Power is not A = B; it is always A > B or B < A. And in a small community like Robstown, the tension level, as early voting begins in some circles, can almost be cut with a razor-blade. Mayor Ramon, many of his supporters harp on the fact that he is on a roll and has a workable vision of growth for the city that he desperately wants to achieve. His challenger -- Mandy Barrera -- also has ambitious plans, but pitches that her platform is more comprehensive in that it seeks to promote a plan that reaches more sectors of the populace. Orona, the other challenger, also has a platform called “The New Vision.”
Ramon was first elected mayor in 2001. Before that he served as a city council member and mayor pro tem. Both he and his rivals -- Ms. Barrera and Mr. Orona -- want to elevate the quality of life to better the quality of life for residents and businesses alike. They want to bring out the best that its city has to offer, make infrastructure improvements and economic development. Orona has voiced that he wants to stop unnecessary spending and exercise fiscal responsibility.
Ms. Barrera -- having been a city council person before -- has a pragmatic plan to develop the downtown area where it can be a bubbling social market that attracts neighboring communities. At the same time, she wants to address the rising utility bills that especially the elderly struggle to play on a monthly basis. Ms. Barrera, if elected, will also sit on the Robstown Utility Board and thus lobby to introduce some well-thought out exceptions for the elderly and sick.
All three candidates want to move the city forward into the modernization age. However, the incumbent Mayor -- Ramon -- has built an organizational base that will not be easy to unseat. He has a tract record that many point to visually as a credit point in some debates. He has hefty resources available and close-knit contacts to put up a “good fight” this election.
Ms. Barrera says that she is not deterred. She has a degree in business administration and a masters and comes from a family of entrepreneurs. The historic Barrera Fried Chicken place is a testament to the enduring spirit of economic survivability. A business she has managed. She is a serious talker -- and she reserves her smiles and giggles until business is conducted. She is independent and most possible the top opponent Ramon faces.
But do not underestimate Mayor Ramon; he is creative -- he climbed the staircase to the top rolling with the punches of competition. He has mustered an army of supporters and advisors. He is the longest sitting Hispanic mayor in the history of Robstown. He is a negotiator and a think-on-his-feet guy. He is not the tallest guy in the room, but sometimes it seems so -- some observers have expressed.
There is something special about all three candidates. Yet, Mandy’s supporters claim she has the popular vote. She can be bubbly and approachable yet a go-getter. She feels that the signs for her to run were expressed in the needs of many that orbit her world. Her campaign is based on the premise that too many resources have been concentrated on an elevated economic development plan that leaves out certain sectors of the community, sectors that she feels will empathize with her message. It will most likely, according to Barrera, be the indispensable vote to stamp victory on election day, May 9th.
As in any election, the insecurities are high. It is difficult to predict the future. On the one hand, the mayoral race is exciting and competitive and the community is stirred up pitching their needs and parading their signs; but on the other hand, there is critical reflection, and critical reflection leads to generalizations. And the practical question, at the end of the day, is who can really bring Robstown out of the hole it has been historically for too long and into the light of progress. Not just economic progress, but social and cultural progress.
Since there are three candidates running for the mayoral seat, the chances are there will be a run-off between the two top vote-getters at a future date. The election will not be over by any means, but most likely will be picked up a notch. Immense resources are put (and will continue to pour continuously) into conducting such an expensively daunting campaign.
All three mayoral candidates also have a slate running for city council seats. This latter adds to the amount of residents showing up to vote. The first days of early voting, it appears the mayor’s supporters showed up in larger numbers to vote; however, by mid-week both Barrera’s and Orona’s surfed in more assertively. . . If there is a run-off, many analysts are predicting the voter turnout will be low in that “slates” will no longer be involved – it will be a one-on-one. And a one-on-one typically favors the incumbent mayor unless the rival manages to keep the enthusiasm high and its former slates members integrated. Courting the candidate that loses on the first round will also be elemental.
Mayor Ramon had not faced such formidable opponents in a long time. He has a master plan, and as long as he continues to seat in the “top gun” seat, his visionary master plan will be pushed forward with all the determination that can be mustered. The election will soon pass. Neighbors have to continue being neighbors: the ultimate survival struggle remains. The animosities roused by the fierce race and rivalry and competition will be puffed away into the distance and a new sun of normalcy will cast its piercing beams on Robstown, the unique small town known as “El Robe” – historically once a famous and thriving agricultural community of cotton-pickers and now famous for its “out of the box” political culture.