District 4 Restoring confidence 

In District 4, Perez focuses on trust; Resendez is AWOL

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Richard Perez, District 4 incumbent

When Richard Perez ran for City Council two years ago, the indictment of District 4 Councilman Enrique "Kike" Martin was fresh on voters' minds, and the candidates' integrity was an important issue in the race. Now, with Martin set to serve a 13-month sentence in federal prison, past scandals remain on Perez' mind, as he works to regain voters' trust. In a district that has a promising future if it can handle growing pains and balance development with revitalization, the incumbent says his top priority is restoring trust in government.

Barring a miracle, Perez should have two more years on Council to earn his constituents' confidence. His only opponent, Ruby Resendez, hasn't raised any money for her campaign, and has spent only $100 on the campaign filing fee and $33.19 to host her website, www.voteruby.com. Without signs, buttons, or publicity, it's virtually impossible for Resendez to garner more votes than an incumbent who's spent almost $30,000. Resendez failed to answer her phone for two scheduled interviews with the Current. She did respond after press deadline; her answers are included here at sacurrent.com, at the end of the interview with Councilman Perez.

Current: What is the most important issue facing District 4?

Richard Perez: Even though we've done a lot of good things to restore the people's trust, we're not there yet. We've done a lot of graffiti cleanups; we've painted murals; we've cleaned alleys; we've helped elderly rebuild their homes. And with all those things we've done, there's still a sector of my district that's not embracing politicians. My first and foremost goal is to restore trust in government. At the end of 2002, we had the indictments hit City Council, and it just frustrated the heck out of me to learn that someone in elected office who was given the people's trust would turn around and slap the public in the face.

Current: How do you think you can restore people's trust in government?

RP: By continuing to be honest, very straightforward with people. I don't beat around the bush. There are only certain things I can do, and I never give someone an expectation of something I can't do.

Current: Aside from restoring trust, what are the important policy issues for your district that can be addressed by City Council?

RP: We've dealt with a lot of policy issues. We've initiated campaign-finance reform, which has greatly limited the influence dollars have in City Council races. Another important issue is how we attack the City's budget. My policy would be to inject ourselves into the budget development process at the beginning so we can have much more input into where dollars go. We also need to continue to protect the aquifer and provide SAWS with the ability to protect the aquifer.

Current: You mentioned limiting the influence of dollars in campaigns, but you have outspent your opponent by over $20,000. How much will that affect the outcome of the race?

RP: One of the things I learned quickly is that you need dollars to run. I injected almost $20,000 of my own money into this campaign, on top of $10,000 my family has `loaned`. Money is a very important part of how you get your message out. Ruby is a good person, but it's very clear to me that she's not very understanding of city government. If you're not spending money to get your message out, it's hard to get elected. The only way you can be effective is to spend bucks.

Current: Do you have plans for managing the coming growth and development of your district?

RP: It's very difficult for me to dictate to businesses where they can and can't go.

I see myself as a facilitator of the district. City South is starting to take off, and hopefully we can get an A&M campus, but there are a lot of areas that are raw land. Bringing everybody together to make things work is how I see my role in handling the progress coming down the pike. At the end of the day, it's not about Richard Perez; it's about the people that live in the district and the city.

Current: What's the first issue you plan to address on Council regarding the city as a whole?

RP: The first issue we're going to have to handle is hiring the city manager. That person is going to lead this 12,000-member army and move them out to make this government more efficient.

Secondly, we need to continue to look for economic development opportunities. We need to always keep our eyes open for every prospect that may be out there. Continuing to nurture and support the military is key as well.

Ruby Resendez interview

Current: What are your plans for improving public safety in your district?

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Ruby Resendez, District 4 challenger

Ruby Resendez: One of the things I believe in is that my constituents have a lot of the answers, and I want to put it on them to see what they want. I really believe some of the people living in high-crime areas have the best solutions to these problems.

Current: Do you have any specific policy plans for addressing public safety on Council?

RR: I hate to say that I would, but of course I would like to get approval from my constituents.

Current: What is the most important issue facing the city?

RR: Getting out of the deficit, and public safety are probably the two top ones.

Current: How would you fix the deficit?

RR: We have to listen to our leaders, we have to reevaluate budgets, see if money can be reallocated. As far as public safety, I think all of use need to work together to try and find a solution.

Current: Do you have any of your own policy plans that you would enact if elected?

RR: I don't foresee using a lot of my own plans. I'd like to talk to the people.

My ideas may not be the best compared to the peoples'.

Current: What is your strategy for winning given the enormous funding gap between your campaign and your opponent's?

RR: To me, it's not about the money. It's about going out and meeting people and earning their vote. It's been a tight budget because this is the first year I've run.



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