Lubbock Tejano Democrats of Lubbock County hosted its last of two political forums this past Monday. The event was designed to inform voters about the candidates running for Precinct 3 Lubbock County Commissioner; along with candidates for County Constable.
And the debate was anything but dull.
The forum was held at Cavazos Middle School and was moderated by local businessman Jose Luis Rodriguez. The questions were asked by TJ Patterson, Publisher of Southwest Digest; Christy Martinez Garcia, Publisher of Latino Lubbock; and Olga Aguero publisher of EL EDITOR.
First up to address the crowd of about 100 persons was Kenny Ketner, who is running unopposed in the Democratic Primary for Lubbock County Democratic Party Chair. Ketner asked the crowd to support President Obama’s reelection efforts and urged them to help keep Obama in office.
Constable candidate Marina Garcia, trying to return to a position she once held, is running against Richard Mendez who did not attend due to personal reasons.
Garcia, who highlighted her 12 years of experience in the position, said she left to due health issues and to further her education. But she said she “is ready to come back and rebuild the trust within the department”, adding that she is also dedicating this election for her father.
But the exchanges which produced most of the night’s fireworks were between two of the 3 Democratic candidates for Precinct 3 County Commissioner.
If current Precinct 3 County Commissioner Gilbert Flores is to have a chance at another 4 year term, he must first win out against the two opponents; Lorenzo “Bubba” Sedeno who is retired after working for 27 years within state government, and Richard Calvillo owner of Calvillo Funeral Home in the Democratic Primary; scheduled for May 29.
Calvillo did not attend the forum due to personal illness.
One of the first statements made by Sedeno was that it was time to end Flores’ run as commissioner calling him a “career politician”. Flores countered that he was not a “career politician” but a career businessman.
Some of the questions asked, dealt with whether one candidate was more qualified than the other to be county commissioner; and how each candidate feels about the formation of a joint city and county health department operation.
Flores responded to the “qualification” question by saying that he was the best candidate because he has “been self employed” most of his life; has been County Commissioner for 16 years; has done “budgets for 45 years”; and has dealt with employees. He indicated that running the county is much like running a business.
When asked why he wanted 4 more years, Flores said, “that’s all I want is four more years…it’s that easy”.
He also claimed that he isn’t a “politician”, that he “doesn’t carry papers for politicians” and is a “self made person and a self made man”.
Sedeno emphasized his 27 years of experience in state government and said he is the best candidate. For 13 of those years, Sedeno served as District Manager and Legislative Assistant to former Texas State Senator and Texas Tech Chancellor John T. Montford.
Sedeno, who is 56 years old and retired, also highlighted his 14 years of experience as manager with the Historically Underutilized Business, or HUB, program which works with minority contractors to give them an opportunity to bid on state contracts.
“I stand for the people, the little people”, said Sedeno, “I am here to serve and not be served”.
Sedeno also questioned Flores’ budgeting skills by saying that Flores has been late in paying his property taxes for the past 6 years or so. He also believes that the only reason Flores wants another 4 years is to become eligible for his full retirement from the county.
As for his other opponent, Sedeno also claimed that Calvillo doesn’t even live in Precinct 3, yet wants to represent the precinct.
Flores denied the late tax payment charge, but was also challenged by an audience member who pointed out Flores had paid late for 7 years running.
County public records do show that Flores has been late in paying his Lubbock County property taxes for the past several years and has accumulated late interest charges. Flores maintained though that if you are 65 or older and meet certain requirements, you are eligible to pay taxes in quarterly installments.
As to whether Richard Calvillo meets the residency requirement or not, the question has been brought up before. Lubbock County Appraisal District records show that a Richard Calvillo has a residence in south Lubbock. The funeral home is located on east 19th street in Lubbock.
As to whether Lubbock County should join with the city of Lubbock in providing health services for residents, Flores said that the process is “still in the works”, with Sedeno adding that he would not have waited for the city to have to approach the county; he would have gone to the city first.
When asked how well the county communicates with residents, Flores said that he is proud of the dialogue the county has through its web site; Sedeno countered that Flores doesn’t take into consideration “that not everyone in north or northeast Lubbock has internet access”. “As your next county commissioner I will continue to develop a dialogue to reach and communicate through minority media and other avenues”, said Sedeno.
The audience of approximately 100 was about equally divided between Flores and Sedeno; and both candidates were well received; with the applause level for both being about equal.
Sedeno came through as a strong, vocal candidate; as someone who is proud of his family history. Many Lubbock residents may remember that his father Lorenzo M. Sedeno Sr. was also actively involved in politics and once worked as a Legislative Aide for then Congressman Kent Hance.
Flores ended his appeal to the audience by saying that “I have never represented you in a shameful way” and pointed out that he had received several awards during his career. He also took credit for some progress made in the city’s eastside; like the United Super Market on Parkway and the Sonic Drive Inn.
Rodriguez, the moderator, told El Editor that “it was a great turnout. Everyone there benefitted by the information being presented and the forum was very well organized. I salute Lubbock Tejano Democrats for this event.”