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Mission, Palmview among contested races

20140506 Palmview-Election-site-photos AF 7523There’s been little peace outside Palmview City Hall the past few weeks, with groups gathered across the street, shouting at anyone who happened upon the municipal building to vote or otherwise.

A skywatch tower loomed over the entire scene, and a sheriff’s deputy stood guard in front of the entrance, ensuring law and order.

The mayhem comes to an end Saturday–Election Day. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

In Palmview, two slates are facing off in campaigns that have included a lot of mud-slinging and accusations. Both sides say it’s time for change in Palmview, but have differing ideas on how to achieve it.

Candidates for Palmview Leadership are Joe Chapa for mayor, Mario Garza in Place 1, Alejandro Cantu in Place 2 and Albino Villarreal in Place 4. All of whom have never run for an elected office before.

Palmview Proud candidates are Jerry Perez for mayor, Arlando Nacianceno in Place 1, Jose “Hoss” Hernandez in Place 2 and Ricky Villarreal in Place 4. Perez resigned his seat of 18 years as the Place 1 alderman to run for mayor, and this is Villarreal’s first bid for re-election to keep his seat.

20140506 Palmview-Election-site-photos AF 7514Among their squabbles is whether the city should be run like a business.

“We are here for our community. Businessmen are here to make a profit,” Nacianceno said at a recent political forum.

“The city’s not a business; business is not a city,” Perez added. “The city is public services.”

Their opponents, members of the Palmview Leadership, have emphasized that each of them owns a business. That experience, Palmview Leadership slate members have said, will help them run the city.

“It takes businessmen to run a city,” said Joe Chapa, mayor candidate for Palmview Leadership. “It takes businessmen to run a business.

“You cannot make $10 and spend $20.”

Candidates and supporters with Palmview Leadership cheer
from in front of the city hall Tuesday as residents enter to cast
a ballot. Progress Times photo by Andrielle Figueroa

Next door to Palmview, Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas faces two challengers new to political office. He’s outspent one challenger, Jaime Gutierrez, 2-1, and spent almost 10 times what Dr. John Robert Guerra has spent on the campaign.

“For 22 years I’ve been in business, and I’ve been a volunteer at our church for the last eight to nine years,” Gutierrez said. “Being in businesses gives us the experience of how to bring our economy to another level.”

Guerra said though he does not have experience, he doesn’t believe there are certain qualifications to be mayor. He added his job as a mayor would be to oversee the city government.

“The mayor has been saying that it is a full-time job; he has made it a full time job.” Guerra said. “The last two city managers have been allowed to leave with severance pays of $180,000, and we now have the city chief of police that is running this city.”

Salinas did not attend the forum.

When asked what top three issues were facing Mission, Guerra said allocating of resources equitably, police department problems and creating a stronger community would be his focus.

“We all know that Mission is a hotbed for the police department and the problems that are related that have been identified through the Panama Unit,” Guerra said. “I feel, and a lot of the citizens feel, that we need to clean up the city police. We need to make Mission safer.”

Gutierrez said his focus would be on community members not being heard, crisis in the family and job opportunities for younger generations.

“The biggest problem we have today in Mission is people not being heard,” Gutierrez said. “I think there is a Mission that is crying in silence, a Mission that wants to scream that just hasn’t been heard. The second thing I strongly believe is that we have a crisis of family, we really need to work the unity of our family.”

Also up for reelection in Mission are Maria Elena Ramirez and Norie Gonzalez Garza, who does not have a challenger. Jessica Ortega-Ochoa is challenging Maria Elena Ramirez for her Place 1 seat.

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