This past Saturday, October 17th, 2020 we hosted our first Meet the Candidates Forum as Helotes News. More than 70 people filled the meeting hall at Casa Helotes. The feedback from voters and candidates was overwhelmingly positive. Helotes News was able to pull this off because several organizations and businesses came together to support our two-week turn-around from planning to the event day!
We kicked off the event with a short presentation by Steve Mendoza, a leader with Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church’s social justice group, COPS/Metro. We invited Steve and Edna Molina to the event to showcase some of their organization’s latest community service work clearing brush at the corner of Riggs Road and FM 1560.
Following Mr. Mendoza’s presentation, we called up our first candidate for their five-minute uninterrupted campaign pitch to the audience of voters mostly from Helotes, but as far away as Stone Oak. Mauro Garza (REP) was first to speak. He is challenging Joaquin Castro (DEM) for United States Representative District 20.
We continued down the ballot in the order the candidates appear on the Helotes News’ owner’s sample ballot from Bexar County’s elections website. Lani Popp (REP) is a Kuentz Elementary School teach and candidate for Member, State Board of Education, District 5. Next up was Rebecca Bell-Metereau (DEM) who is also running Member, State Board of Education, District 5. The last state candidate who spoke was Renée Yanta (REP) running for Chief Justice, 4th Court of Appeals. After the state candidates spoke, we moved to the county candidates. Stephen David Pennington (REP) spoke first and is challenging Albert Uresti (DEM) for Count Tax Assessor-Collector.
As for Helotes City Councilmember candidates only two RSVP’d to our invitations and attended. Place One Challenger Craig Sanders and Place Two Challenger Linda Salazar. Both candidates shared their reasons why they decided to run for council and touched on some issues. Craig Sanders earned several compliments from voters by speaking to what they saw as the issues in our city. Helotes News was approached by several voters after the speaking segment who shared their perspective on the candidates, their disappointment that no city council incumbents showed, and their appreciation of our event.
Ironically, the only two city councilmember candidates who RSVP’d to our invitation to attend, were also the only two who completed the interview back in the spring. You can read their interviews by navigating to our candidate pages we created free for any candidate who completed the interviews:
Following Mrs. Salazar’s speech, we thanked our Premier Sponsor in attendance Mr. Wilson Heating and Air Conditioning who gave out water bottles with free fall heat check coupons and thanked all our sponsors who helped offset some or expenses. This was followed by a drawing for two Amazon gift cards for the life altering sums of credit, $50.00 and $25.00.
We thanked everyone for attending and invited the voters to speak with the candidates at their tables for the last hour of the event.
We will highlight one family’s comment to Matt McCrossen, the owner of Helotes News as everyone was meeting with the candidates at their tables after the speaking segment. The mother approached Matt and thanked him for hosting this event. She told him that her teenage daughters are voting this year. The mom said her daughters were very nervous about attending this event because of how the last Presidential debate unfolded. She thanked Matt because her family just observed a political event where all parties behaved professionally, and clearly were asking for votes instead of arguing over them.
We will continue to host neutral forum events like this depending on the community interest and our ability to afford these events. At the very least we intend to invite the two Helotes City Council and Mayoral candidates for the May 2021 general election depending on if there are challengers for those three positions.
From the owner of Helotes News, thank you! This was a community effort to make our event a success.