In deference to my friend, Rick Bonart, I published his letter endorsing Mr. Svarzbein. As you know, Rick was my pick for City Council Representative for District 1. Rick would be my choice as a candidate for anything. However, two others made the run-off: Al Weisenberger and Peter Svarzbein. Let me tell you what I know.
Peter has some negatives. The biggest of these has to do with the way he has financed his campaign. He bypassed the campaign finance laws of Texas with his “Friends of Peter Svarzbein” Special Purpose Committee. In short, he began financing a campaign without declaring a Treasurer. PAC money means hidden donors. We all want more transparent government (except perhaps the people in charge of the City of El Paso who only give lip-service to open government.) Peter's hiding something and that isn't good.
The fact is that Svarzbein is backed by all the major developers (but not Hunt or Foster). On the portion that he reports as campaign contributions, 14% of that money comes from the likes of Jerry Rubin and Adam Frank - people who would love to demolish all of downtown's architectural treasures and put up parking lots.
This brings me to another negative - Svarzbein is against the historical preservation of downtown. When people protested the demolition of the block at San Antonio and Mesa, he screamed at the protest organizer over a phone call. In fact, Peter apparently is quite a screamer. He reportedly was seen berating his father in public. Just great. Another Theresa Caballero. A prima don to Niland's prima donna.
Peter hasn't had a real job in his entire adult life. He has had the benefit of his father's money. A District 1 observer put it this way: "Peter has no earthly idea what things cost and why. So, if elected, he would be looking at a multi-million dollar city budget and be like a kid in a candy store picking out his favorite flavors." He says that his budget solution is to find private money. Good luck with that.
Svarzbein has claimed that he will be a full-time representative unlike Mr. Weisenberger who says that he will be a one-term representative and that the first few months in office he must complete some tasks he now has as an attorney. (Weisenberger is honest and ethical, responsible to his contractual duties, and intends to get things done in the four years that voters give him rather than taking eight years to finally accomplish anything. Did anyone complain when Beto O'Rourke didn't run for a second term and look how much he got done.)
This list of negatives is getting tedious; but add one more to the list. Sorry fellow environmentalists, Peter ain't green. Follow the money.
So let's discuss Weisenberger. Al has some positives. He ran a business with 65 employees. He knows how to create wealth and make a payroll. He has been involved with a number of civic organizations - Rotary Club, the Bar Association, etc. He's a gentleman. He's grown up. He's long past the terrible tantrum twos. Al endorsed historic preservation of our downtown. It's great to be a creative idea person. It's even better to have the wisdom that comes with experience to know what is a good idea and what is a bad idea without wasting everyone's time.
So there you have it. Negatives and positives. You make the call.