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Government/Politics

Senate Rematch Takes To The Airwaves And A Few Dance Halls

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Texas Public Radio
Jose Menendez and Trey Martinez Fischer both vie for San Antonio’s District 26 senate seat.";

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
Seniors on San Antonio's West Side dance at a senior sweetheart dance and contemplate who will be their next state senator

On San Antonio’s West Side, seniors spin and sway with their dance partners inside the Lucky Ballroom on Callahan Road.   In a corner some seniors line up to take their pictures with state Sen. Jose Menendez and to bend his ear on some important issues.

Keta Flores LaGrange says he’s supporting Menendez because the senator quickly responds to her calls when, as she puts it, “something needs to be addressed.”

“Every time I have a concern I call the senator and he either comes himself or he sends a rep, anything that is out of line I take pictures and I flash it to him and he takes care of it,” Flores LaGrange said.

Flores LaGrange thumbed through photos of potholes on her cell phone.  She said they were left by a construction crew working in her neighborhood.  Flores LaGrange said she forwarded the pictures to Sen. Menendez, and the hole was repaired the next day.

Both Menendez and his opponent Trey Martinez Fischer have served in the legislature since 2000. Menendez points to his record last session as a reason he is the better choice and said he’s the candidate who can “Get things done.”

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
Democratic State Sen. Jose Menendez at a senior sweetheart dance on San Antonio's Westside.

  “We passed 40 bills last session and the governor vetoed two.  And he, (Martinez Fischer), passed zero bills in the same time frame.  In our career, I have passed 124 bills to his 23,” Menendez explained.

Reacting to the senator’s words, Martinez Fischer fired back, “He’s only a Democrat when it’s convenient and that’s exactly how he was elected."

Martinez Fischer countered that Menendez’s claims are bogus and alleges the current senator is too often working with and voting with Republicans in the state senate.

“I’ve spent the last six years negotiating the biggest pieces of public policy not just with the House but with the Senate, but I do it from strength, I don’t do it from a ‘go-along, get-along fashion,” Martinez Fischer said.

Menendez pointed out that Democrats only make up a third of the senate, so working with Republicans is a must to pass legislation. 

“What I hear in my opponent’s remarks is that he is there to give long speeches.  You have to be very careful that you don’t give the wrong impression that by electing him things would have turned out dramatically different, they wouldn’t have,” Menendez said.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
Trey Martinez Fischer hands out flowers at the Alice Trevino Lopez Senior Center

At his own seniors sweetheart dance just outside Loop 410 West, Martinez Fischer hands out carnations  to some of his loyal supporters.

Senior Gilbert Rodriguez said he’s known both candidates for a long time.  But he said he favors Martinez Fischer because of how he thinks the Republican leadership sees him.

“They respect him and they kind of fear him because of what he does,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez explained how he liked it when Martinez Fischer used parliamentary rules to kill legislation that would’ve stripped money from veteran’s benefit programs.

Martinez Fischer said as a senator, he would go after the additional $3 billion dollars that Republican lawmakers didn’t want to spend on public education.  He wants to use part of that money to make sure that the top 10 percent of every graduating class has access to college scholarships.

“Children in the top 10 percent of their class lost their scholarship from the state and make no mistake, Jose can nuance all he wants, but this scholarship is gone,” Martinez Fischer said.

If reelected, Menendez said he hopes to crack down on the kind of cyber bullying in public schools that may have resulted in a San Antonio teen committing suicide.

“It’s the one issue that hear from one side of the city to the other, it crosses socio-economic boundaries and it’s an issue that people what to see something happen on and district attorney’s office is working with us,” Menendez explained.

Menendez and Martinez Fischer have both raised enough money to take their fight to the television airwaves.  Since there’s no Republican running, the winner of this contest Super Tuesday will be the Texas Senator representing San Antonio’s District 26 for the next four years.