May 5th, 2018. A date that will live in infamy, as far as Del Rio politics goes. Eighteen years into the 21st Century, those three thousand folks who chose to show up between Cinco de Mayo margaritas elected their first millennial leader with the selection of Bruno ‘Ralphy’ Lozano. While the overall turnout was significantly low by total registered voters’ standards, it was an overwhelming majority of 61 percent which lead to the defeat of baby boomer Mayor Robert Garza and crowning the 30 something mayor-elect. A title that he might consider for the 2022 campaign: Landslide Lozano.
While Bruno’s campaign of slightly over 90 days was never crafty, slick, or over produced, (as many political consultants would diagnose as the only way to defeat a highly successful and educated incumbent) his grass roots, low key approach was deer-in-the-headlight blinding to the opposition while attracting the masses with one, simple key word: Unity.
There are several factors why Del Rio chose Bruno Lozano for the big red chair. His timing was as crystal clear as a Steven Spielberg final scene, leaving nothing for the cutting room floor. There wasn’t rhetoric, trash-talking, or promises. The incumbent answers at public forums, mass-mailers outlying previous achievements, budgets met, and expectations that Del Rio must look at for the future did not seem to faze Bruno in the least and he kept on point. What his supporters took with them into the voting booth was the one word repeated from countless hours of block walking and public speaking at forums: Unity. To be determined over the next 48 months is can Bruno deliver?
In order to achieve collective cohesiveness, Del Rio still has to determine who will serve in District 2 for city council as well as Council at Large Place C. That will be a very difficult decision between Jim Dereus and David Scarbo in the District 2 showdown. Both men have high achievement with their past professional and community service experience. Their character alone demonstrates the comprehension of unity. Place C has voters deciding between Reno Luna and Raul Ojeda. Luna has served many years as councilman, so he does not need to be reminded of the definition of Lozano’s credo. Ojeda does understand and acknowledges a desire for what Del Rio demands of its future government.
What Mayor-elect Lozano probably will find in the upcoming months is how fortunate it is that District 1 voters chose Fred Carranza. If anything, Fred Carranza is a perfect synonym for unity. As for council persons Rowland Garza, Diana Salgado, and Elizabeth Elizalde-Calderon, Bruno will find that they too have Del Rio’s best interest at heart. But he shouldn’t feel surprised at the hard ball questions to come along with some opposition.
What Bruno Lozano must decide once the council is in place are the specific goals that will unify Del Rio.
More strategic economic growth plans. A continued pace of securing needed infrastructure. He has already hinted at the beautification of Del Rio and better containment of its natural resources. Bruno had me on my feet with applause when he said that he chooses not to compare Del Rio to Eagle Pass, but selects other cities of its size in the United States. That comment is rather bold and might even miff those who supported him.
Bruno might consider looking at the accomplishments of Robert Garza since 2016 which might guide him to unification at a steady pace. The Ports-To-Plains vision for Del Rio, along with future cooperation with interior Mexico is a laudable plan to pursue. The achievement of our financial status, bond rating, and payment of debt are to his credit. The one thing you can say about Robert Garza’s tenure, he left us in a better financial position than when he came into office.
Finally, mayor-elect Lozano might want to set his goals with a well outlined series of tasks in order to meet his ultimate summit. Once his council is selected, it’s time to roll the sleeves up and focus on amalgamation. Its definition is “the action, process, or result of combining or uniting. Welcome to City Hall Ralphy. Opport-Unity knocks!
Story By Bob Corbell
The storyline of Del Rio’s awkward an insatiable past of airline service has raised its head again, but maybe this time the reality will unmask the unfounded perception. This has been a hot bed of conversation over the last 30 days on KWMC. The further discussions at City Hall can only conclude one thing for certain: it will be a well spirited month of May without any need of a rented margarita machine in the hallway left over from Cinco de Mayo.
A lot has happened since 1949 when a certified airline carrier by the Civil Aeronautics Board serviced Del Rio. Air Mail Route 82, was granted to Trans Texas Airlines which flew mail, passenger, and cargo along a line stretching from Houston to El Paso with stops in between that included Uvalde, Eagle Pass, Ft Stockton, and Van Horn. By 1978, when the airline industry was deregulated, service to Del Rio became more complicated. This was mainly due to regional carriers having to create alliances with an assortment of major carriers. The majors battled rapid expansion, fare wars, and quite frankly, chaos that continued well into the 1990s. Del Rio suffered from these consequences.
There are two misconceptions that have lead to the “no mas” attitude towards any future consideration for air service in Del Rio. Most recent is the contract with Texas Sky. It was costly and did not provide through ticketing outside of DFW airport. Also there were some frequent service interruptions and the mid afternoon departures which lead to a full day of travel. The other misconception is that future airline service will be a burden to the taxpayers.
The reality that strikes the first perception is the service which Colgan Air provided between 2004 and 2012. The operating load factors were respectable during this time. The carrier suffered some insurmountable circumstances following 2009. This put the service in question. Finally the merger between Continental and United Airlines lead to the exiting of Del Rio. Not one circumstance was due to the loss of profit or load factors.
The second reality that addresses the perception as “a burden to the taxpayer” was presented before the Del Rio City Council on April 10th, 2018. After months of strategic planning mastered by City Manager Henry Arredondo and staff, the council had to decide whether to begin an agreement between the city and American Airlines to establish service as early as November. While the exact terms are still within negotiation, American would offer two flights daily between Del Rio and Dallas/Ft. Worth for two years. The presentation was almost flawless, factual, and fiscally feasible for the gold standard of the air travel industry to sprout roots in Del Rio. As Mayor Robert Garza pointed out, the funding of the bottom line dollar amount to be committed by the city is “new money”. That new money is an increase in toll fare of the International Bridge by 25 cents and a commercial rate of 50 cents per axle. This hard assessment of current funds and projections through the year of 2020 more than met the expectations. Basically American Airlines wants a 2.9 million dollar commitment over two years and a 75 percent load factor on its flights. Garza also stressed to council that American would not consider entering into the agreement unless they saw a profit. He’s right. American Airlines losses close to 400 potential Del Rio customers per week, who now travel to San Antonio and Austin while boarding a Southwest, United, or Delta aircraft. The sales tax receipts from these customers prove that fact.
Finally, the economic support from fact and general comments made from the city’s top government and business leaders are laudable to say the least. If this city wants sustainable growth for the future and a commitment from its top three job sectors; an airline service is necessary. This deal presented to the Del Rio City Council gets absolutely no better than today. Meanwhile, it’s all up in the air. Until final approval.