Greg M. Schwartz
Controversy continues to rear its ugly head in the upcoming District 5 city council race. First, there were accusations that incumbent Lourdes Galvan had made an error on her application and had altered it instead of filing a new application, which some community members said violated election code as indicated to them by the Texas Secretary of State’s office.
There were claims that Galvan’s application should be nullified and that she should only be eligible as a write-in candidate. But upon further inquiry, San Antonio City Clerk Leticia Vacek said the mistake where District 3 had been filled in instead of District 5 was her error, and that she was therefore allowed to correct it. A spokesperson from the secretary of state’s office said that such decisions about application validity would be left up to the local municipality in question, which ended controversy number one.
Now questions are being raised about the validity of David Medina Jr.’s application. Gilbert Gallegos, president of United Public Workers of Texas, says he’s uncovered evidence that Medina did not live in the district for six months prior to his application date, as required by city code.
“Each member from a district or ward shall reside within its boundaries at least six months prior to filing his (or her) application for election and continuing during his or her term of office, and failure to do so shall render such office vacant,” reads Section 4 of the city charter.
Gallego and associates suspected that Medina had not actually been living in the house on Winnipeg Street that is listed as his residence on his application. Gallego filed an open records request with the San Antonio Water System and was informed that the address in question “does not have monthly billing for water and sewer for the requested time period,” which was August 2008 to February 2009. Medina’s candidate application was filed on March 4.
This would indeed seem to suggest that no one had actually been living at the residence during the requested time period. But Vacek says that her office’s only criteria for establishing that candidates meet the six-month residency requirement is whether the address on the application matches the one on the candidate’s Bexar County voter registration. Vacek said Medina’s voter registration did match, and the Bexar County Elections Department says Medina has been registered at the Winnipeg address since October 2004.
“If there are doubts [about residency], they would have to take that up in district court,” said Vacek of the SAWS records indicating that Medina probably wasn’t living at the address for six months prior to his candidate filing.
This highlights what looks like a troublesome loophole in the city’s election system. The Current left multiple messages for Mr. Medina seeking comment on the matter, which he did not return.
“Hopefully, we can find a way to bring justice back to District 5,” said Gallego upon learning of the city clerk’s narrow criteria. “If we can’t trust our own candidates/elected officials, then who can we trust?”
There’s also been allegations from Galvan supporters that Medina supporters have been stealing their signs and replacing them with Medina signs.
“My [Galvan] sign was stolen and a David Medina sign was left in its place,” said district resident Patty Abrego. “Now I know how he has placed so many signs up and down Malone Street — apparently he doesn't ask the homeowners permission.”
Palm Heights Neighborhood Association President and Save Burbank organizer Fernando Velazquez says that Galvan volunteers put up tons of signs along the Cesar Chavez memorial parade route last weekend, only to later find that they’d been pulled out and replaced by Medina signs.
“Dude plays dirty, and he has done it to Rodriguez and Garcia too,” said Velazquez, charging that the Medina campaign has been pulling the signs of all the other main contenders in District 5.
Would such activity represent standard political one-upmanship or low down, dirty pool? What say you San Antonio?
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