Competing rallies on both sides of the “Pre-K 4 SA” initiative landed on the steps of City Hall Monday, each taking their turn voicing their opinions, within minutes of each other.
“A person can be against the proposal without being against the children,” said Gerald Ripley, with Citizens for Responsive Government.
At issue is the proposed one-eighth of a cent increase in the city’s sales tax to pay for full-day classes for eligible pre-schoolers.
“I got news for you. Not all Hispanics support the program,” said George Rodriguez, former president of the San Antonio Tea Party who helped organize the rally. “Now we have an organization that is trying to separate us and divide us.”
LULAC had planned its own rally at Main Plaza, until its organizers walked across the street to City Hall, chanting their support of the Mayor Julian Castro’s proposal.
Rodriguez asked his group who should city government acknowledge, “Should it be responsible to those who scream the loudest of should it be responsible for citizens who pay the taxes?”
Henry Rodriguez, no relation, and his LULAC group of supporters quieted down as they waited for the opponents to finish stating their case.
“We have all the respect in the world for our counterparts,” said Rodriguez. “The Constitution allows us free speech.”
Speaking of the mayor, Rodriguez said, “What he has in heart is compassion for those kids.”
At that point, someone on the sidelines where the opponents were standing, said, “But he can’t speak Mexican.”
Supporters then began speaking out until their organizer said, “Don’t engage. That’s OK.”
Each side and those still undecided on the proposal will have their say on Election Day, Nov. 6.