According to media reports, City Councilwoman Linda DeLeon will ask her fellow council members to vote up or down on renaming Canyon Lakes Dr to Cesar Chavez Dr.

This was confirmed in an email circulated to several people and received by El Editor by one of the effort’s organizers Christy Martinez-Garcia. The email asks recipients to help the Cesar E. Chavez Commemoration Committee accomplish the name change by contacting members of the Lubbock City Council and asking them to vote in favor of the proposal.

Martinez-Garcia tells recipients that, “We are at the final point and very close to the decision of the renaming of Canyon Lakes Drive to Cesar E. Chavez Dr. The Lubbock City Council will make a decision on October 11 and we need your help”.

She also asks people to help in the effort by showing up at the meeting during the citizen comments period; that’s the period of time set aside for citizens to address the city council.

The email includes a prepared letter which recipients can sign and email to council members. There is also a Frequently Asked Questions section in which Martinez-Garcia addresses the “reasons” for the renaming. In the letter to the council member(s), it points out that Chavez was a “great American hero”.

But sources tell El Editor that the votes for passage may not be there. Throughout the past few months several individuals have addressed the City Council during its regularly scheduled meeting and spoken in favor of the name change. Local organization, Hispanic Agenda also held a series of meetings with individual council members in an effort to get them to vote in favor of the name change.

Still, conventional wisdom is that the measure will fail when brought before the full city council on October 11.

District 3 Councilman Todd Klein told El Editor that his understanding is “that the whole point of her (Martinez-Garcia) proposal is that she wants Cesar Chavez to intersect MLK. This has been the whole center-piece of her presentations in this effort of Canyon Lakes Drive being designated Cesar Chavez”. But the emailed Q&A also points out that the road will border an area where “migrant labor camps” used to be.

But Klein’s understanding of the issue might explain the opposition coming from the mostly African American community from various neighborhood organizations in East Lubbock. Opponents to the name change, several of which have also come before the city council to voice their opposition, center their contention that the section of the lake and road which sits to the east and southeast of Broadway should remain as is. They view it as an exclusive honor to Martin Luther king, Jr. and to others from Lubbock’s African American community who are also seen as the “forefathers” of their community; similar to a territorial issue.

They have pointed out that they are not opposed to naming a Lubbock street after Cesar Chavez, but rather are opposed to the location only.

This seems to be the main source of opposition, although several people who also happen to be Hispanic have also voiced their opposition; mainly to the location of the street; among them, Precinct 3 County Commissioner Ysidro Gutierrez.

Gutierrez appeared before the council in support of the name change. But he tells El Editor that he does not support renaming the street selected by organizers since it is a “seldom used back road”. Gutierrez suggests that the council should name a “committee to consider and recommend an appropriate main street or highway as a proper honor for the magnificent achievements of Chavez”. He says that he supports another street such as Erskine Street or Clovis Road.

That is something that Councilman Todd Klein will suggest to the council. He told El Editor: “At this point, I am considering putting forth an alternative resolution at the October 11th session that would call for a task force to study the issue and incorporate a more representative body from the community. This would be more in keeping with past efforts to gain community input and support on such matters, and would allow the Council to look at more than one street for name change”.

Klein adds that he “personally will not support what has become such a contentious and un-inclusive effort by a small group within the larger Hispanic community–who are willing to look at less divisive designation possibilities”.

Klein’s feelings about the issue may also be shared by other council members; including District 2 Councilman Floyd Price who has publicly stated his opposition to any street being named after an individual; although he did support the name change of Quirt Ave to MLK.

In the end, some council members including the mayor may not want to be seen as taking sides and voting against the wishes of the African American community.

El Editor sent an email to Councilwoman DeLeon asking her to comment on the upcoming vote; but we did not receive a reply.

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