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Garces and Mendez spar over a photo

Usually, the city election season doesn’t get into full swing until summertime, safely after the legislative session has ended. But clearly, it’s on in District I.

The photo in question

Houston City Council District I candidate Graci Garces is calling for opponent Ben Mendez’s apology after Mendez — or someone with his campaign — allegedly e-mail blasted a photo of….um, Garces enjoying a meal at a restaurant.

“I was appalled that Ben Mendez and his campaign would distribute a photo of me that is intended to bully, harass, and discriminate,” Garces explained in her statement.

She continued: “The Mendez campaign crossed the line of decency and should be held accountable.”

Hair Balls has to admit: we’re a little confused by the whole thing. We’re not sure what the Mendez hoped to gain by distributing the photo, or if it was just someone’s idea of a joke. What’s the message of this photo? That Garces is not a size 2, and therefore is a freak of nature whose very existence must be documented and shared with the rest of the world?

We think Garces and her supporters — some of whom have written their own open letter demanding an apology — are raising too much of a stink over this, but that’s politics. What bothers us most of all is the way Mendez’s campaign is(n’t) dealing with this.

Campos, who is Graci Garces’ campaign manager, has copies of the open letters. The first one has links to pages that talk about bullying and fat shaming, which is the direction I assume Garces intends to go with this. You can see the photo embedded above, which was included in the open letters. Garces is not a size zero, and nobody looks good in a photo taken while eating, especially a non-thin person and double especially a non-thin female person, who is likely to be reduced to an object of ridicule and derision by some number of people who see said photo. (See, for example, some of the comments on that Hair Balls post.) Garces wants to head that off, and I understand and admire that impulse. On the other hand, she herself has now made that photo of her more widely known than it was likely to become without her actions, and it’s not clear that the message she’s sending with it will accompany all of those images or sink in with the people who see them. One can argue that from a strategic perspective, she should have let it go. I think her course of action was the right thing to do, but not necessarily the best way to win the election.

As for Mendez, I don’t know the story behind this, and if you read through that Hair Balls piece, you can see that his campaign is not exactly on top of things response-wise. Whatever his intent was, let’s hope this steers the campaign for this open seat back to more substantive matters. District I voters – really, all of us – deserve that much. Texpatriate has more.

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4 Comments

  1. joshua bullard says:

    This is unfortunate that ben mendez would do something so hateful yet i am not surprised and let me tell you why-as the assistant director of the community partnership exchange breakfast both southside and northside produced by director charles x white we had only one candidate crash the event and refuse to support the event by co sponsorship,it was no other than ben mendez-i met him in the facliity and pointed out that he should respect the fact that this was a “private” community event and since he refused to sponsor any of the meals for the seniors and disabled he needed to leave,he attempted to argue the fact that his campaign shouldnt have to support the cumminity and i demanded he leave the property or face legal action-the saddest part about it all-he was wearing his campaign badge pinned to his suit the entire time,it was a sad day for the community,we have video of the entire event just in case mendez tries to deny it,this is guy is starting to scare me.

    this is my name/this is what i do
    joshua ben bullard

  2. Ben Mendez Campaign says:

    We understand there is discussion & concern regarding a photograph of one of our opponents. Ben Mendez is running a positive, energized, grass-roots campaign based on the needs and concerns of the citizens of District I, and at no time indulges in or condones negative campaign tactics.

    In the face of competition, we’re aware that campaigns sometimes present items in attempts to get traction in the news, but we are committed to staying focused on the issues. We remain grateful for the growing support we have received as a result of our hard work in the community, even in the face of transparent attempts to detract from our progress and message.

    Ben Mendez’ campaign staff and volunteers will continue to work hard to energize and engage the citizens if District I in discussions about ways to improve the overall quality of life in the community.

  3. Charles X White says:

    To whom it may concern
    I have been informed and have read the posted blog by Joshua Bullard related to the Community Partnership Exchange Breakfast. Joshua is a friend of mine, and is a volunteer with several projects including the breakfast.

    Joshua’s statement related to the blog is not accurate and does not reflect my views or the mission of the breakfast. There is no assistant director of the Community Partnership Exchange Breakfast.

    Regarding candidate Mendez and if there are any others I must apologize. The breakfast is not and has never been a whipping stick for me or anyone associated with the breakfast toward any candidate regardless to party affiliation etc. The breakfast’s prime objective is to improve service delivery in neighborhoods that are labeled hard to serve or with unmet needs as well as distribute helpful information.

    If there are any other occurrences please don’t hesitate to call me direct (713-292-3436) to report anyone misrepresenting me or any project that I am heading.

    Thank for your alert
    Charles X White

  4. [...] has proven to be the liveliest race so far, as candidates Graci Garces and Ben Mendez have already gotten into the kind of spat that one only sees in election years. Garces is the Chief of Staff to current [...]

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