William “Willie” Vaden stole the show a couple of times during a Tea Party Tax Day Rally at Klipstein Park as he spoke to a crowd of about 40 voters.
Vaden was among a group of Republican primary candidates vying for nomination in the May 29 primary who addressed the Tea Party group.
Democrat Bebe Adamez, who is seeking that party’s nomination for the Precinct 1 county commissioner’s seat, was the only member of that party to attend the rally.
Tea Party supporters also got to hear from Jessica Puente Bradshaw, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the new U.S. Rep. District 34 seat.
Tina Garza, 23-year-old daughter of Adela Garza, who is also seeking that nomination, was at the rally to answer questions and campaign for her mother.
Others who spoke were Dennis Phipps and John Marks Silva, both seeking the Republican nomination for Precinct 3 county commissioner, Linda Bridge and William T. “Bill” Lazenby, who are running unopposed for the Republican nomination for tax assessor-collector and county sheriff.
The other candidate to speak briefly was Mike Keeney. He is seeking the position of Bee County Republican chairman.
It was the politically-incorrect Vaden who most stirred the crowd with his comments. A former mayor of Ingleside, Vaden said he is a veteran of the oil and maritime industries. He said oil company trucks working in the Eagle Ford Shale formation are tearing up South Texas’ highways.
Currently, the state is charging the companies for the wear and tear on those highways, but he said none of that money will make it to the counties that have to pay for most of that damage.
Most of the money will end up in places like Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.
He pledged to see that counties get some of that money.
“I don’t need to get paid,” the retired candidate said, alluding to the reason current state Rep. José Aliseda chose not to run again.
When asked what the difference is between him and his opponents seeking the nomination, Vaden shot back, “I show up.” He was the only candidate running, Republican or Democrat, who had made the rally.
He said he carries a simple cellular phone and, when voters call him, they usually ask, “You answer your phone?”
Vaden said government needs to turn around the entitlement mentality. He said the country now has five generations of Americans living off welfare.
“Welfare is the new slavery,” Vaden said. “There are people out there who can’t take care of themselves.” For those, government assistance is important. But for those who can work but choose not to, Vaden said “let those who can go hungry for a few days, and they’ll figure it out.”
Another highlight of the gathering came when Bradshaw and Garza took the stage to answer questions.
When Bradshaw told the crowd that she is a fiscal and social conservative, Rev. Tim Stowe of the Beeville Baptist Church asked her to explain that.
“Pro-life, God in schools, marriage is between a man and a woman,” Bradshaw answered.
She said she wants to see a “personhood amendment” passed that would guarantee “respect for life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.”
When Tea Party President Anna Diaz asked about her fiscal conservative beliefs, Bradshaw said she would be for “total transparency.”
She would demand that every bill be presented with a budget so that everyone would know what the new law would cost.
“It’s the only way that we’re going to be able to hold them accountable,” Bradshaw said of the requirement.
Garza said her mother learned the importance of having a staff when she ran for public office earlier. She said her family owns a small pharmacy in Cameron County, and her father has struggled to keep the business open in the face of mounting federal regulations.
She said her mother sees that more federal regulations are “forcing small businesses out.”
When candidate Garza was in town several weeks ago, she said her main push is for a balanced budget.
Beeville banker Lyndsey Green told those at the park that the Dodd-Frank banking bill has 5,000 pages of new regulations to the banking and financial industries, and it is already increasing expenses for financial institutions.
Local candidates had their say too. Phipps, a retired Army warrant officer, said he wants the county to charge oil companies for the wear and tear they are causing on county roads.
Adamez told the crowd that his experience in cable television and radio has kept him in touch with local politics for years.
“I think I’ve got a pretty good feel for this business,” he said.
Silva, a retired state employee, reminded Tea Party members that he was born here and has lived here all his life.
“I pay my share of taxes,” Silva said, and he promised to see that tax money is wisely spent.
Lazenby said his 40 years experience in city, county and state law enforcement have prepared him for the job of sheriff.
He said he plans to focus on administration and management of the sheriff’s office and hire a competent staff.
Lazenby also promised to crack down on the problems of drugs and gangs in the county.
Bridge reminded voters that she is running unopposed this year. But she will continue to see that her staff provides quality customer service.
“We take pride in solving problems and helping our customers,” Bridge said.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.