From the beginning, Dr. John R. Guerra has said his campaign to become the next mayor of Mission is a grassroots effort.
Never was that more clear than when the 30-day campaign finance reports were submitted April 10. From January through April 10, Guerra spent $12,100, a fraction of what incumbent Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas and challenger Jaime Gutierrez spent during the same time period.
Salinas took out $75,000 in loans and took in another $50,400 in contributions. He spent $102,000. Meanwhile, Gutierrez received $58,000 in contributions and spent $56,000.
Neither Salinas or Gutierrez returned calls for comment.
Guerra said Salinas’ figures didn’t surprise him, but he wasn’t expecting Gutierrez to spend so much money. Guerra himself received $1,100 in donations.
Still, he said, the campaign is going well and he hopes name recognition will aid him when voters hit the polls. He doesn’t intend to buy votes, Guerra said.
“When I was growing up, it was difficult for my family to make money,” he said. “I learned to be frugal and that’s how I run the campaign–that’s the way, once I become mayor, I plan to be with the city of Mission’s money.”
Purchasing signs made up the biggest expense Guerra’s made as he paid Exclusive Signs in Mission $7,316. Other expenses include $1,257 for rent on a campaign headquarters on Bryan Road, $500 for computer work and $525 for T-shirts.
Of Salinas’ $50,000 in contributions, $10,000 came from Pct. 3 Commissioner Joe Flores. He received $5,000 from Mission residents Oscar L. Cardenas and Lucille Cavazos, and another $5,000 came from Edinburg’s David O. Rogers.
Pablo Garza Jr. and Jacinto Garza, both with L&G Engineering, donated $2,000 and $1,500, respectively, to the mayor, and Reza Badiozzamani, of B2Z Engineering, donated $1,000. Jerry Bell of Peñitas and Guerra, Leeds, Sabo, and Hernandez donated $2,500 each.
As for expenses, Salinas paid Juan E. Gonzalez about $17,000 for wages and advertising expenses. He engaged four different consultants, paying Guadalupe Ramirez of Mission $4,000, Maribel Salinas of La Joya $5,000, Amanda Zamora of Mission $1,500, and Alicia Garcia of Mission $1,000.
More than $12,000 was paid to KEM-Texas for the billboard advertising around the area.
Money also was used to benefit several causes: $1,000 went to Virgil Wilson Mortuary to help with funeral expenses, $1,000 went to the American Cancer Society and $100 went to Our Lady of Guadalupe for a raffle.
Gutierrez’s campaign was boosted from donations that appear to be from family members. He reported $13,200 from Juan Gutierrez, $7,000 from Manuel Gutierrez and $1,000 from Jonathan Gutierrez in March. He also donated $9,300 himself.
Other Mission residents donating to Gutierrez’s campaign include Nicolas Elizondo with $8,100 and Guadalupe Perez with $2,000.
Gutierrez has put more than $19,000 into signage with Exclusive Designs, and another $8,000 into billboard advertising with Lamar Companies. More than $9,000 was paid out to workers on street campaigns.
He also spent $1,200 on a musical comedy show, noted as alternative advertising in the campaign finance report: $500 went to Marcos Valdes and Alejandro Urbino and $200 went to Gerardo Moreno, all of Pharr.
“We’re hitting the streets. We’re meeting the people, so that way we don’t assume nothing,” Gutierrez said previously in an interview with Progress Times. “We know exactly what the city needs. We need to close gaps by the city and its citizens. We’re here to serve.”