Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Politicians listen but don’t hear

May 9, 1900

By Yolanda Reynolds

La Oferta Newspaper.

La Oferta Review recently ran a series of interviews that this reporter had with the mayoral candidates. The questions asked of them touched on some key issues confronting the Hispanic community.

The questions were as follows: The perception within the community of an unequal distribution of city services and resources; 2. The educational needs of the young. particularly Hispanic youth; 3. Affordable housing and the candidate’s plans to alleviate the scarcity of such housing; 4. The unequal distribution of arts funding and a lack of official recognition of the Hispanic/Indian contributions to San Jose’s history as exemplified in the Fallon statue controversy; and 5. City Hall support of small businesses, particularly minority owned and market oriented businesses.

The candidates have now had an opportunity to have been heard by most of the citizens who are planning to vote.

The campaigns will move into a “sprint” for the last portion of the race before the primary election, June 5.

La Oferta went into the community to interview some citizens and ask what they think of local government and this mayoral campaign.

They were asked three questions which were: I. Do you think your elected officials are listening to you? 2. Are the candidates for’ office really discussing community issues? and. 3. What do you think are the primary issues in the community?

The first person interviewed was Jessie Dominguez. Jessie has been involved in community issues for many. many years. For 27 years Dominguez has focused his attention and life towards helping minority youth.

Dominguez says that politicians look at the issues in terms of how that issue can benefit them. If the cameras are on them and the people are there, the politicians will discuss the issue, but when the camera is done so is the politician.

Jessie says that community issues come before the politician in cycles. He says the politicians usually respond to issues with a “band aid approach”. He compares this to poor car maintenance. He says it is as if a car breaks down and the muffler needs repair and the owner proceeds to repair it with a wire coat hanger in order to save money. Dominguez says this solution is no solution since it does not solve the problem, it just conceals the effect of the problem.

In answer to the question of “listening” on the part of elected officials, Dominguez recounted a story his grandmother told him as a young man. She used this story as an example in order to prepare him and his’ brother for the likely disappointment to be expected when at last minority persons would be elected to public office.

The story he says advises a person to be careful with rattlesnakes. To avoid a surprise snake bite, one must hold the snakes head in your hand and look directly into its eyes so that you will know what the snake is going to do. If instead you follow a snake blindly, you will not know when it is going to bite.

Dominguez feels that some of these elected officials “sell out” the community –“they act as if they listen to their constituents but they don’t really hear.”

Jessie says there are many issues facing the community making it difficult to prioritize them – housing, drugs, gang warfare, violence in the streets, unacceptable behavior by law enforcement officers, lack of employment, racism or bad attitudes on the part of social service personnel particularly in the welfare department.

He says these problems exist throughout the ‘country, not just here in Santa Clara County. He says that most of these problems in the community have been there since he was a youngster.

He feels that politicians address these and other issues in view of how the issue will help them stay in or get into office. Then “they set up committees to look into the matter then they set up another committee to look at the first committee and on and on, but nothing really happens”.

Dominguez’s years of work and concern for youth and the well-being of the entire community have been a longtime commitment. He was born in San Jose. He is currently involved with the group, Youth Getting Together. He and his group are in the process of raising funds to find a permanent meeting place and office for this non-profit program which helps young people direct their energies into productive, non-destructive behavior.

Frank Garcia, owner I pharmacist of Garcia Pharmacy, at 16th and East Santa Clara was another person interviewed by this reporter.

Garcia, like Dominguez, feels that politicians “listen but do not hear.” Garcia says they “give lip service” to the community when issues are raised but that the politicians quickly go on and do what they planned anyway. Mr. Garcia feels very strongly that elected officials should not remain in office more than two terms, eight years for the City Council. He is, however, optimistic that Mayoral candidate “Frank Fiscalini will be a change from the usual politician.”

Garcia recounted the frustration he has experienced for a number of years in attempting to resolve a problem that is affecting his business and his customers.

A traffic barrier was placed by his drug store where previously (1976) Garcia had requested and obtained loading zone parking for his customers. Garcia feels that this service is very important to his customers, many of whom are elderly, infirm, or both and need parking close to the pharmacy so that they can pick up their prescriptions quickly, and without having to walk a half block to the pharmacy.

When he brought the problem to his Council representative, Susan Hammer, she told him that was “the penalty to pay for progress.” Garcia is still waiting to hear from Council No. 3 candidate, Pete Carrillo and former aide to Vice-Mayor Alvarado after bringing this problem to this attention several months ago.

Mr. Garcia is sympathetic to the concerns of the neighborhood regarding traffic, but he says that the barrier at his doorstep has no relationship to a traffic barrier ½ mile away.

Garcia pointed out a seeming lack of concern within the same district to the traffic woes of the residents living north of Santa Clara, as opposed to the intricate and extensive traffic control system in place in the Naglee Park –  Campus Community area. A difference he attributes to the economic status of the two areas.

Dominguez and Garcia both cite the needs of the less economically fortunate, recreational and educational needs of the young and substance abuse as concerns that require everyone‘s attention.

As a businessman, Garcia appreciates the attention the City has given downtown San Jose but, he says City Hall needs to pay more attention to all of San Jose and those issues/problems confronting the entire community.

The primary election will take place June 5. If none of the mayoral candidates win more than half the vote, there will be a runoff election in November. If a person is not registered to vote already, it is too late to do so before the June election but there is plenty of time to register in order to be eligible to vote in November.