“Years from now, when hundreds of thousands of people are at Maverick Music Festival, remember that you were here today.”
Leticia Van de Putte proclaimed these words as she introduced Nina Diaz from Girl in a Coma to several thousand attendees of the Maverick Music Festival. As an organizer of the event from its inception, I can assure readers that there would be no Maverick Music Festival today without Leticia’s support. She has championed the event to the next level. More importantly, she is the biggest advocate among the candidates for supporting the music and arts economies, which are viable opportunities to generate a consistent and major economic impact here in San Antonio. Maverick is just one example of how Leticia has taken a leadership role in advancing music and the arts, and progressive causes in general.
Many readers might not be aware that Leticia comes from a musical background and family. Her mother, Belle Ortiz, was a teacher and choir director. In 1970, Belle created, spearheaded, and taught the first Mariachi Class taught in local schools. In 1976, Belle went on to become the Music Program Specialist for San Antonio Independent School District. The same year she created the first district Mariachi Music & Program, which culminated in her founding the Mariachi Campanas de America. Mariachi Campanas de America began to provide performing mariachi performers who graduated from high school with paying mariachi gigs while in college. There are now approximately 2,500 schools nationwide with mariachi programs.
Leticia’s husband, Pete, who incidentally played trombone professionally for 20 years, was Band Director at Jefferson High School, and performed or participated in every of Battle of Flowers parade from 1965-1980. Her brother Roland plays 11 instruments, and daughter Nichole graduated with a degree in Music Therapy from Loyola University in New Orleans. Stepfather Juan Ortiz is a two-time Grammy Award winner.
In a competitive race with 14 candidates competing to be San Antonio’s next mayor, Leticia sets herself apart from the rest as San Antonio’s champion of music and the arts, progressive candidate of choice, and voice of a growing generation of change agents who have increasingly asserted their own voices in recent months and years. She’s proven herself to be more than someone who perfunctorily announces policies, but rather, takes decisive and effective action when it’s most needed for our community, and the people who reside here.
Leticia understands the economic impact live music has on a local economy. Austin has reaped a windfall of approximately $102 million each weekend it is held, and has since expanded to two consecutive weekends each year. This is yet another example of how a community can benefit from a multi-billion dollar industry that San Antonio has all but ignored up to now.
In this regard, Leticia also understands the importance and need for increased corporate/organizational engagement and responsibility with regard to events in the San Antonio community. We are not a city as large or wealthy as Dallas or Houston with the number of companies to sponsor or endorse events in San Antonio. Admittedly, companies like H-E-B, USAA, Valero, and others have provided tremendous contributions to our community, but it’s not nearly enough. If we want to elevate the level of national and international recognition our local music and art scenes deserve, then we need much more support. Leticia seems to be the only candidate who understands this conundrum, and the only one with the capability to meaningfully engage the conversation and potential partners moving forward from a governmental perspective.
One previous example of how Leticia utilized relationships in various industries and government to pioneer a progressive movement was the recent craft brew legislation she was instrumental in passing. This legislation revolutionized beer sales and distribution laws in Texas, resulting in a cultural renaissance throughout the state, while generating a growing economic impact to San Antonio and communities throughout the state. In the year leading up to the 2013 legislative session when the law passed, she led a series of critical meetings that brought together distributors and craft brewers.
Those negotiations led to passage of bills that allowed brewpubs to begin packaging beer to sell in stores and other restaurants, while allowing them the opportunity to ship to breweries to sell beer directly from their own taprooms.
Leticia will advocate for our city to continue to rise above, beyond even what we thought was possible yesterday. She understands we are a city on the rise, with a distinctive culture that should be shared and showcased with the world on an international stage. With extensive state legislative experience, and as a former candidate for Lt. Governor (widely regarded as the most powerful position in Texas state government), Leticia is the only candidate capable of continuing and expanding upon the work of her previously elected predecessors. Leticia carries on a vision designed to responsibly grow our city and attract new businesses and professionals to live, work, and play here.
This is a critical juncture in the history of San Antonio on the cusp of our Tricentennial Anniversary. We have started to shake the lingering vestiges of a latent inferiority complex that has long plagued our city. Many locals in the past have complained “there’s nothing to do here” or the “city is lame,” in the same breath comparing our city to Austin. We’ve entered an era where we collectively know this is not true. The reality is that we as a city should not view Austin as a competitor, but rather a powerful partner with which we can form an even greater alliance to nurture a more expansive market among the two cities as we unite, yet still celebrate each’s own uniqueness. Readers should recognize that with San Marcos and New Braunfels as two of the fastest growing mid-market cities in the country, this I-35 cohesion should not be ignored, because it is inevitable. Leticia is the only one with the vision, knowledge, and experience to fortify this bond between our cities and the corridor that binds us.
Some may argue Leticia is an establishment candidate, embedded in the old political vanguard. While I disagree with this assessment, I do acknowledge her close association to many people and other institutions of power at the city, county, state, and national levels. This, I would argue, is precisely why we need her as our mayor. We need a strong leader like Leticia, who is by far the strongest among all 14 candidates. This race is about strengthening San Antonio, and with much discussion that has ensued about local control of city matters and the tug-of-war with state politics, simply, no one understands this dynamic better and can more aptly reconcile the two in the best interest of San Antonio. No other candidate comes close to having the ability to navigate both the state political system and our city’s simultaneously. This is exactly what San Antonio needs right now to continue its ascent toward national recognition, as well as further building its geopolitical significance as a city that veritably connects the two continents of North and South America.
The most recent interim mayoral administration under Mayor Ivy Taylor has been one marked by total and complete failure. This administration has enabled discrimination against San Antonio’s LGBT community, while killing two alternative public transportation options. This, in a city that continues to admonish and lament the tragedies of impaired driving, while doing very little to resolve the matter proactively for future generations. Beyond these public safety failures, these and other transit options would start to bring the four corners of the 400+ square miles inside 1604 together, from the Southside to Northside, Westside to Eastside. This is how we will all connect to each other culturally and personally throughout all of San Antonio. An administration under Mayor Taylor will likely digress and divide our community back to the status quo that once persisted prior to her tenure as interim mayor in previous decades.
With that said, I urge the readers as well as Mike Villarreal’s campaign to consider the ramifications of attacking a credible candidate like Leticia, when the likelihood of a Villarreal win is remote: recent poll numbers indicate Villarreal’s support hovering around the high teens and Adkisson’s in the low teens. The risk voters now run, if the vote is split, is allowing Taylor to win, which would then stifle progress and revert our city back to a place from which so many of us have fought so hard to escape.
Election Day is around the corner, and while I urge readers to vote their conscience, stubbornly doing so in defiance of both political and statistical realities, as well as splitting the vote, could potentially relegate our city to an Ivy Taylor regime where no one other than big business and special interests benefit.
In conclusion, San Antonio has a tough choice to face. We can continue down the path of our interim Mayor Taylor, who has been proven to be an ineffective leader, seemingly unconcerned or unaware of the potential for the responsible economic cultural growth of our city, or we can choose a proven candidate in Leticia Van de Putte who has dedicated her entire professional life to improving the cultural vitality, and lives of the citizens and community of San Antonio.
*Featured/top image: Leticia Van de Putte Mayoral campaign kickoff. Photo by Page Graham.