Esther Vásquez / Bilingual Weekly Columnist
On February 17, 2011, Hispanics for Political Action (HPA) —the local Latino PAC (political action committee)— were to hold the election of its Board.
Yet the evening turned into a debate. Presidential candidate Xochitl Paderes arrived with a small army of enthusiastic new HPA members that quickly paid their dues so that they could vote for her. Among them was Patrick Motecuzoma Sanchez who had recently been asked to step down as Vice President of another Latino organization by HPA president, Michael Villanueva.
Mr. Sanchez was elected HPA Secretary despite the fact that he did not pay dues and had not attended prior HPA meetings.
First, Ms. Paderes was disqualified as nominee for the HPA because their bylaws state that she “must have been a member in good standing for at least one (1) year.” Additionally, receipts showed that Ms. Paderes was never a paid member.Offering no proof, Paderes insisted that she was a paid member, and argued that due to her campaign for City Council, she did not attend HPA meetings. However, she attended one meeting —March or April of 2010— when she solicited and received an HPA endorsement for her candidacy.
HPA member Louis Gonzales insisted to forgo the bylaws so Paderes —his relative—could run to be the group’s President. Despite calls by presiding Villanueva and other (clearly outnumbered) long time HPA members for the appropriate discussion, they were ignored. Mr. Gonzales made it a point to direct persons not voting for Ms. Paderes to raise their hand in support of her. Who would have expected this type of unlawful action by long-respected Luis Gonzales, former SUSD trustee? Finally Xochitl Paderes was elected president and Gonzales —who last month accepted a nomination to the HPA board— informed Villanueva that he did not intend further involvement with HPA.
This is how dictators take over —showing up with your armies. Oh! and having strong vocal cords helps, as well as having a family relationship or a trusted “friend of the community or organization.”
It is unfortunate that the hard work, credibility and political momentum that energized HPA last year has now became victimized by power seekers.
Ms. Paderes has now called a meeting to make changes to the HPA bylaws. Could this be an effort to justify her position?
This activity and election is clearly illegal. We should remember that just because a candidate shares our heritage, language, or color does not mean that that persons upholds the same belief system that we do.