Dear Editor:

San Juan Bautista had 719 registered voters on July 19, 2002. On Oct. 8, San Juan held a town hall meeting. Seven of its residents attended. Besides Council incumbents Hill and Hopper, I was the only other candidate that even bothered to attend.

Even seated Council member Rowe was absent without excuse. On Oct. 10 the San Juan Chamber graciously hosted a Candidates Night. The sole purpose of this forum was as opportunity for you, the voter, to get to know the candidates bidding for seats as your elected government officials.

Discounting candidates‚ families, press and children, I counted 17 adult voters in the audience.

On Oct. 15 there was a City Council meeting, and as typical, about five citizens bothered to attend and participate. Where is everybody? What ever happened to public participation in our governmental system? Maybe this is one of the reasons why we were such easy targets on 9-11. But participation does have its boundaries.

Shortly after I filed my nomination papers as a candidate for a seat on the San Juan Bautista City Council, I received a telephone call from one of our town’s political watchdogs. In short, she communicated three sentiments: 1) that of all the candidates running, I was the least electable. (She said the same thing to Mayor Hill 12 years ago.; 2) that she wanted me to withdraw my candidacy so that I would not draw votes away from her candidates, and 3) that if I did not withdraw and candidate John Hopper was re-elected, it would be all my fault. I informed her that her request was unacceptable and I ended the call. But it didn’t end there.

This last weekend, on Saturday, two of my campaign election signs were on a trailer, legally parked on a public street in the vicinity of the the person’s residence. I though that this would have been a good place to display them, especially since a person at the residence endorsed my candidacy by signing my nomination papers.

They were subsequently defaced by one or more cowardly weasels, in the still of the night, by covering them with the backsides of two large Coca-Cola banners. I removed the banners. But that didn’t end it.

On Sunday, a wooden ladder was now placed on the street directly behind the trailer attached with a large “Re-elect Gray Davis” sign in a attempt to block out my sign. Besides this activity being criminal in nature, it’s hard for me to believe that I could be such a political threat.

Yes, I’ve considered withdrawing from the election, but that would only encourage others to do the same thing in future elections. It’s hard to believe that people who bully, intimidate and suppress others like to claim to be Americans and live in the land of the free.

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve got to want it bad because it’s going to put up a fight. It’s going to say, “You want free speech?”

Then, let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil; whose standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.

You want to claim this land as a land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to free expression, regardless of the venue. Now show me that; defend that; celebrate that in your classrooms … then you can standup and sing about the land of the free.

Whether I’m in the race or not, you, the voter will decide on Nov. 5. Win or lose, I really don’t care. What is important is that you get involved.

Get out and VOTE your conscience. If you don’t, then you’ll get exactly what you deserve.

Jim Pereyra,

Candidate, San Juan Bautista City Council

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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