Former state rep champions education
No matter what political party you support, a strong education system benefits everyone in the community, said former state Rep. John Lujan Nov. 5 at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
More than 15 people attended the event sponsored by the College Republicans in Modular B-B1F.
The South Side is poised for growth and change, Lujan said. The whole community can prosper with good leadership.
“I got to take care of my district first,” Lujan said, adding that the South Side is “the squeaky wheel needing that attention.” An audience member shouted, “Hear, hear!”
Lujan served as representative for Texas House District 118 from 2016 to 2017. District 118 includes the majority of the South Side of San Antonio, Somerset, Elmendorf and Selma, Texas.
Lujan defeated Tomas Uresti in January 2016 in a special election after Joe Farias formally resigned his Texas House seat. Uresti won the general election in November 2016. Uresti’s brother is former state Sen. Carlos Uresti, who was “sentenced to 12 years in prison on 11 felony counts of fraud and money laundering,” according to a June 26, 2018, article, “Tomas Uresti’s Senate campaign an obvious act of brotherly loyalty,” in the San Antonio Express-News.
Lujan ran to win back the seat in the Nov. 6 election, but he lost to Leo Pacheco, who won the general election with 58 percent of the vote.
“What pushed me to run for office is education,” he said.
Lujan is a retired firefighter, small-business owner and community volunteer.
“I believe we need more godly people in office,” Lujan said.
District 118 needs more communication between school district superintendents and A&M-SA administrators, Lujan said.
“We should have parades of high school students, going through this campus, seeing what we are doing down here,” he said.
Lujan said education is so important, he would like to create an education committee, not determined by political party affiliation but by community members. He said the committee could bring up actual issues, knowledge and change to make the right decisions.
“The worst thing we can do, is continuing the same thing, ’cause we do it, over and over,” he said.
The problem is great leaders are moving to the North Side when they do well in the school boards on the South Side, Lujan said.
“Once we build here on this side, then people would stay on this side and we’ll be OK,” he said.
Outgoing Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood, who will be succeeded by Joe Gonzales in January, was originally scheduled to speak at the College Republicans’ event. Lujan said LaHood’s employee who had scheduled the event no longer works for LaHood.
Club president bemoans location, uses discriminatory language
After the speech, College Republicans President Daniel Gonzales told a reporter that attendance at Lujan’s speech was low because of the meeting’s location. He said he had tried to book the Vista Room on the fourth floor of the Central Academic Building.
“They weren’t working with us,” he said of university employees who reserve rooms for club events.
LaMarriol Smith, senior communications specialist at A&M-SA, said in a Nov. 26 interview that she spoke with Cristina Dominguez, student activities coordinator, about Gonzales’ concerns. Dominguez told Smith the Vista Room was booked Nov. 5 for the “Unplugged” diversity forum hosted by the President’s Commission on Equity. The forum was held 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The College Republicans event was held 2 p.m.-3 p.m.
Smith said the university looks at whether they have proper amount of staffing to turn the room around for the next event.
“There isn’t any policy about which would discriminate based on political affiliation,” she said.
The university’s two other large spaces — Patriots’ Casa and the auditorium — were also booked that day, Smith said.
Smith said the club seemed satisfied with the room in the modular building.
“When I asked Cristina whether or not there had been any problems, she said they ultimately directed them to modular B and that she had not heard that he felt discriminated against or that he had an issue with it,” Smith said. “And in fact, she received communication from [the club] saying that they found the location and they liked it.”
Smith said logistic issues can also come into play when booking an event.
“I’m sorry he felt that way but that certainly was not any intentional motive on the university’s part,” she said.
Gonzales also said after the Nov. 5 event that the university provides better locations to the “faggots and other clubs.”
However, Gonzales later retracted his wording in an interview Nov. 26.
“I don’t wanna put that,” he said of his wording. “Don’t write that. I’m cool with them.”
Gonzales said he is a member of The Coalition, the student organization that provides peer support to all LGBTQ and straight students, faculty, and staff. He said he is straight, but has been a part of the gay community since 1979.
“I’m OK with the gay community. I have nothing against them, but my point was that
anything they ask for, they get,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said Nov. 26 that people should not discriminate against the LGBTQ community.
“They can’t get discriminated upon,” Gonzales said.
“I’m all for them,” Gonzales added.
Rene Orozco, president of The Coalition, confirmed Gonzales is a member in an interview Thursday, Nov. 29.
“It is unfortunate to hear that such a word was uttered. It’s a hurtful word,” he said of Gonzales’ choice of words. “It’s also painful hearing that it came from a member. Of course we have not officially heard him ever use that language. Of course if he was using that in his capacity, that is something that is very regretful. Somebody in such a position should never say that.”
Orozco said the club has reserved the Vista Room once this semester in partnership with the Sociology Club and library, for a documentary presentation of “Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four.”
Orozco says there are no special privileges for booking the Vista Room; it just depends on availability.
The College Republicans organization, headed by Gonzales, is the A&M-SA Chapter of the Texas Federation of College Republicans. According to the TFCR constitution posted on the university’s student organization online portal, the chapter is an “auxiliary of the Republican Party of Texas,” and “considers itself affiliated with the College Republican National Committee.”
According to the TFCR constitution, “This organization will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, or ethnic origin, religion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, or veteran status.”
In other remarks after Lujan’s speech, Gonzales said he believes it was important to encourage students this year to vote and realize real change is possible through state representatives, council members and legislators.
“Basically what we focused on this year was getting everyone to register to vote, informed who is running and what they do,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said he had voted early. He said U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who lost the election to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, tried to connect with Hispanic voters by using a Spanish-language nickname.
“It’s Robert O’Rourke, and he has more Irish blood than a red-headed whore from Ireland,” Gonzales said.
He said Cruz is more Hispanic than O’Rourke.
“First of all they used Beto to lure the ignorant Mexicans,” Gonzales said. “Thinking he’s Mexican is a fraud there alone. If it’s about ‘Latino’ — Cruz, he’s Latino.”
According to the TFCR constitution, the president’s duty is to act as the “official spokesperson of TEXSAS (sic) A&M SAN ANTONIO Chapter in all forms and capacities.”
Nicholas B. Creel, College Republicans adviser and lecturer of political science, says the comments Gonzales made in the interviews Nov. 5 and Nov. 26 do not represent the Republican Party, club, faculty or students.
Creel responded to Gonzales’ choice of words.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable,” Creel said in an interview Nov. 29. “Disavowed in its entirety.”