Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tyler City Council District 5: Alan Lizarraga vs. Bob Westbrook


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Am I "bi"?

I mean, "bi-ideologic."  I've prided myself on being a life-long, died-in-the-wool conservative Republican.  Spend less, keep taxes low, small government, etc.  But when you get down to the local level--cities and counties--the draconian, ultra-conservative model of governing seems to break down.  The knee-jerk response to every funding decision--don't spend anything on anything--just seems to lead to living in a city where everything is run-down.

So, I've been sort of peripherally following the Tyler City Council races without much to say.  Only one race is contested, anyway, which is District 5.  But a recent article in Tylerpaper caught my eye and got me to thinking...


Alan Lizarraga


The Telegraph has incorrectly identified him as a "laboratory assistant."  It's my understanding that he is actually a laboratory supervisor in the biology department at UT-Tyler.  I originally blew him off as just one of those liberal candidates that pop up every now and then in our local political scene that have about a snowball's chance in hell of winning an election.  But, he's  making better use of social media than his opponent, Bob Westbrook, who apparently just discovered Facebook about two weeks ago.  And Lizarraga is also taking his campaign door-to-door, and I'm guessing he's going to depend heavily on the "college" vote, as UT Tyler and the surrounding communities are in District 5.  It's still a long shot, but feasible.  After all, if we learned anything in the 2014 election, it's that the internet is the great equalizer.  Remember former County Judge Joel Baker?  He was the popular incumbent with a war chest of about $100,000 and the support of Smith County's Establishment.  But his opponent came out of nowhere with about $8,000 in funding and got 43% of the vote.  What happened?  I think the internet is what happened.  Someone posted the  "police report" on Weebly.  Then I started blogging.  I'd bet my bottom dollar that hundreds of voters turned up their noses at Baker after they learned the truth about his behavioral issues and his performance in office.  And remember, these little city council races are often won and lost by just a few votes.  So, if Lizarraga and his supporters mobilize and get younger voters, including college students, to the polls, it could happen.

So what's this guy about?  Well, he's interested in bringing in jobs other than low-paying retail and service-industry stuff.  He's concerned about traffic.  He laments that Tyler is not a very "walkable" city and asserts we need more sidewalks, bike trails, etc.  He wants economic development in downtown Tyler in the form of stuff that might appeal to younger consumers.  Yeah, he's a liberal who supports Obamacare and uses blasphemous terms like "diversity" and "inclusiveness."  But, he's really got me to thinking.

Okay, well I have to disagree with him on Obamacare.  And oh, so many bad ideas have been supported in the name of "diversity."  But hey, he's correct when he points out that Tyler is becoming younger and more diverse.  Conservatives, ignore minority communities at your peril, because that mentality leads to the rise of entrenched "ward politicians" like John Wiley Price of Dallas County and Barack Obama of Chicago.  And don't forget our very own local dim bulb in county government, JoAnn Hampton!

But, hey, would it kill us to build a sidewalk every now and then?  And imagine Tyler with a really happenin' downtown with great places to eat, live music, and cool boutique-type retail outlets!  You see, if these people who are always chanting the mantra "economic development" ever get interested in bringing in firms that offer jobs to degreed professionals, they are also going to have to find ways to attract Smart People to the community so that there will be people to work in those firms.  Oh, but Smart People are like kryptonite to Tyler's Establishment.  Smart People ask questions.  Smart people like decent parks and bike trails and recycling and stuff.  We just can't have that here, can we?

And let's talk traffic.  One of the first things that got cut when tax revenues took, a nosedive this year was funding for the traffic department.  So there's apparently no work going on to tweak our outdated, poorly-coordinated traffic lights.  That's why Loop 323 is like a parking lot at certain times of the day.  And, like it or not, the area's population is growing.  Tyler's population (and therefore traffic congestion) doubles during the daytime as people come into town to work, shop, go to school, etc.  We simply can't keep kicking this can down the road, or we are going to end up a generation from now in a county with 500,000 residents and a virtual gridlock in certain parts of Tyler.

I'd vote for Alan, but I live in District 12.


A look at the Establishment Candidate, Bob Westbrook

His pedigree speaks volumes:

He held leadership roles for local and statewide organizations including: Chairman of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce; on the executive board of directors of the Tyler Economic Development Corp.; president of Tyler Sunrise Rotary Club...
Pretty much a member of Tyler's "good ol' boy" club.  They must have some sort of factory here where they stamp out stodgy, middle-aged businessmen by the ton.  Look at Tyler's current city council:

Yeah, if we don't watch it, the "White Businessperson Party" is going to be in danger of losing its majority.

I'm thinking a vote for Westbrook is a vote for the same-ol' same-ol':

  • Perpetual neglect of city infrastructure.
  • Mindlessly rubber-stamping every proposal to offer corporate welfare in the form of tax abatements to every company that comes to town with its hand out, as long as the words "economic development" are in the header.
  • Preoccupation with growth in south Tyler in the form of retail and restaurants while ignoring the potential for growth in other areas such as downtown.

And look at Westbrook's supporters here (LINK).  Pretty much the same crowd that has supported the likes of Joel Baker and Matt Bingham.  But did you look closely?

Commissioner Jeff Warr supports Bob Westbrook.

Jeff Warr?  Since when has Jeff Warr supported anything that turned out to be a good idea?  Well, he masterminded the building of our $35 million jail expansion.  But when construction was complete, he and his fellow clownishioners seemed confused when the sheriff pointed out to them that the county would actually have to pay for employees to staff the jail.  Warr supported the failed and illegal "Transportation Reinvestment Zone," a special taxation zone plan that, if enacted, would have siphoned funding from much-needed improvements in roads and bridges to pet projects supported by Joel Baker and the clownishioners.  And speaking of illegal, Warr supported "cameragate":  an illegal plan, hammered out in illegally closed meetings, to allow an out-of-state company to operate automatic camera-based devices to fine speeders in school zones.  And, year after year, Warr supported funding to build on to Joel Baker's downtown Kremlin while our county roads and bridges crumbled.  And finally, Warr supported Joel Baker to the bitter end, even after Baker was indicted for Open Meetings Act violations and got caught sending obscene messages to a woman while he was sitting in hearings for the State Commission on Judicial Conduct!

So Jeff Warr supports Bob Westbrook.  I think we can stop there.

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