La Joya candidates spend nearly $21,000 in the months before early voting
Candidates for La Joya City Commission spent nearly $21,000 during the past three months.
Team “We are La Joya” spent about $9,300, according to campaign finance reports filed with the city. Team “3 Candidates One Vision” spent nearly $7,300. And team “Un1ty,” which is headed by La Joya Mayor Jose A. “Fito” Salinas, spent about $4,250.
“I don’t know where they’re getting the money,” Mayor Salinas said, adding that rival candidates blanketed La Joya with campaign signs. “We’re facing not opponents but money.”
Mayor Salinas is running for re-election with Dalia Arriaga, the wife of police Chief Adolfo Arriaga, and Daniel Flores Jr., a local teacher who mounted an unsuccessful campaign for City Commission in 2015.
Flores filed for Place 2. Dalia Arriaga filed for Place 4.
Backed by Citizens Working Together, a local political party affiliated with the Salinas family, they’re campaigning as Un1ty.
Mayor Salinas — who serves on the City Commission with his wife, Mary Salinas — said they’re running a low-budget campaign that depends on community support and volunteers who canvass neighborhoods with the candidates.
Un1ty reported just three campaign donations from July 15 to Oct. 4, according to campaign finance reports filed with the city.
Mayor Salinas reported a $1,000 donation from Carlos Marin of Brownsville. Dalia Arriaga reported two donations, including $500 from attorney Frank Garza, who represents the Agua Special Utility District.
Un1ty borrowed $10,000 from BBVA bank, which allowed the candidates to spend about $4,250 on food and events.
“I’ve talked to some of our citizens and supporters, and it looks real good,” Mayor Salinas said.
Un1ty, though, is faced with six opponents running on two rival teams.
We are La Joya
Team “We are La Joya” consists of former police Chief Isidro Casanova, who is running for mayor; utility board Director Roger Hernandez, who is running for Place 2; and real estate agent Laura Mendiola Macias, who is running for Place 4.
They spent about $9,300 from July 1 to Oct. 7, according to campaign finance reports filed with the city.
Casanova paid $2,115 to his wife, Cindy, for rent and expenses. The candidates also paid thousands to reimburse Macias’ husband, Elias, for campaign expenses.
We are La Joya was the only team with a significant number of campaign donations.
The candidates received a total of $7,500 from the Caso Law Firm, which is owned by Edinburg-based attorney Jose Luis Caso.
Hernandez described Caso, who donated $2,500 to each of the three candidates, as a friend.
“We met up and I asked him for support,” Hernandez said. “And he helped us out.”
They also received $500 apiece from Austin-based law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, which collects delinquent property taxes. Other donors to We are La Joya included Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Flores and former La Joya City Attorney Roberto Jackson.
“We have been actively campaigning for the last couple of months and the reception we’ve received has been extraordinary,” Hernandez said in a statement. “The citizens of La Joya are ready for change, and we’re ready to bring that change to our city.”
They aren’t the only candidates running to change the status quo.
3 Candidates One Vision
Team “3 Candidates One Vision” consists of former state Trooper Jaime Gaitan, who is running for mayor; businesswoman Sylvia Cerda Oxford, who filed for Place 2; and businesswoman Aurora Ruiz, who filed for Place 4.
They’re not soliciting donations.
“Our strategy going into this campaign is: we wanted to do it on our own without any funding from anybody,” Gaitan said.
Candidates who depend on campaign donors become indebted to them, Gaitan said, adding that he wants to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest.
“We just wanted a clean slate,” Gaitan said.
They held a bingo fundraiser, which generated $1,620, but didn’t receive any other donations.
The candidates spent nearly $7,300 of their own money from July 16 to Oct. 7, according to campaign finance reports filed with the city. Major expenses included signs, food and events.
Early voting starts Oct. 21. Election Day is Nov. 5.
This article originally appeared in the Friday Oct. 11, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.