|EDINBURG, January 10 - Hidalgo County Sheriff Guadalupe “Lupe” Treviño should not keep his job due the corruption that has taken place in his department, says the incoming chairman of Hidalgo County Republican Party.
Speaking at a McAllen-Hidalgo Tea Party meeting on Thursday, Sergio Sanchez cited corruption that occurred inside the Panama Unit, a street-level narcotics task force set up by Treviño. A number of deputies and detectives assigned to the Panama Unit have been convicted of trafficking narcotics.
In addition, Jose Padilla, a high ranking commander in the Sheriff’s department, has been indicted of drug trafficking and money laundering.
Sanchez, a local news talk radio personality, said he wants to see a GOP candidate run for Hidalgo County Sheriff at the next election.
“He (Sheriff Treviño) should be replaced, in my opinion, next time around because if you have no idea what is taking place beneath you… what does that say about your administration skills, your management skills?” Sanchez said.
“I am not here to blast the Sheriff. I am sure word will get to him somehow through some local online newspaper. But, it is a matter of accountability - that is what we demand as citizens. We need a Republican to run against the next Democrat for sheriff in Hidalgo County.”
The Tea Party event was held at the Dustin Sekula Public Library in Edinburg. In addition to Sheriff Treviño said, Sanchez spoke about the Rio Grande Valley’s politiquera system. Recently, the FBI arrested three politiqueras in Donna for allegedly buying votes with money, cigarettes and beer.
“Elections are not for sale in America, should not be for sale in America,” Sanchez said. “Thank God a shot has been fired across the bow to those who think that elections are for sale in South Texas.”
Sanchez has been reporting and commentating for KURV Radio for the past 19 years. He said it is the first time since he started in the news business that politiqueras have been under serious investigation. “Certain things have happened these past few days that I was not expecting. Like manna from heaven politiqueras are under fire, for the first time ever since I have been doing media.”
Explaining his core beliefs, Sanchez said he is an American before he is a Republican. He said he might not agree with all the Republican candidates but once the primary is over, conservatives need to unite behind the Republican ticket. He said too many Democrats in the Valley forget about the people they serve because they know they will be re-elected thanks to la palanca (straight party voting).
“Once they win, they forget about the people because the palanca will always be there for them. I am asking you to fight the palanca. I am asking you to unite as like-minded patriots, as conservatives, to unite behind the Republican cause, and let’s fight the palanca,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said he was encouraged to run for party chair by former state Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg. He said Peña asked him if he wanted to “bellyache and complain, scream at the top of your lungs and at the end of two hours lose your voice every Saturday morning or do you want to get in there and actually do something?” Sanchez has a free format show on KURV every Saturday morning where he pounds his free market, libertarian message.
Sanchez said that if, for one minute, he considered being chair of Hidalgo County GOP a “hopeless task or a waste of time” he would never have run for office. He said he could be spending valuable time with his family. However, he said he could not just sit on the sidelines or become pessimistic, as many conservatives did when President Obama won a second term.
“What is the alternative, sit on the sidelines and do nothing. No. I choose to fight. I ask you to unite the Republican Party in South Texas. Let us fight,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez also railed against big government. He said life, property, and liberty are “gifts” that do not come from government. “Government did not give them to us. Hence, it is has no right to take them away. We have delegated to the federal government way too much,” Sanchez said.
A Republican has never been elected to office in Hidalgo County before. Sanchez believes a breakthrough can happen and speculated that 92nd state District Court Judge Jaime Tijerina, who was appointed to the bench last year by Gov. Rick Perry, could be the GOP’s “beachhead.” Tijerina will be opposed in the general election by one of three Democrats, Rey Ortiz, Luis Singleterry, or Miguel Wise. Tijerina told a reporter at the Tea Party event that the GOP needs to pick up an additional eight percent of the vote in order for him to retain his seat.
Sanchez bases his optimism for the GOP going forward on the core beliefs of most South Texas voters.
“In my heart of hearts I believe this is a majority conservative population,” Sanchez said. “The Hispanic population, just looking at the social values of this population, I believe they are conservative. They are pro-life, they are Catholic, they believe in traditional marriage.”
Sanchez said Republican Party supporters may be disappointed to see only a few GOP candidates on the ballot for the November general election in Hidalgo County. He described those candidates as “a few brave souls.” He said more candidates will be found for future elections. “We have to build this party. We need more Election Day monitors, more volunteers.” He encouraged conservatives to go to places like La Joya and Weslaco to make sure the elections there are being conducted properly.
“In this conservative community of Hidalgo County I am convinced that we have enough business people and managers and retired professionals and, yes, even attorneys that adhere to conservative principles, that can run,” Sanchez said. “We are in recruitment mode.”
Sanchez said because he does not have an opponent he can get out and meet future candidates. He encouraged Tea Party members to provide him with the names, phone numbers and email addresses of friends and acquaintances that might be persuaded to get involved in politics.
“We need people to get their hands dirty, to take a couple of days off work during early voting.” Sanchez said that in time, those poll watchers and election judges could turn out to be good candidates for justice of the peace, sheriff, DA, or Congress. “We have qualified people. They are just disenchanted, disenfranchised with the whole political process because it seems politics never changes. If it is going to change it is going to be up to us,” Sanchez said.