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sweeping walks. Built in 1932, it reflects a time when the standard for high schools was not efficiency or cost effectiveness but grandeur, refinement and lofty expectations. Full of mahogany wood and stenciled tile, watched over by a grave etching of Thomas Jefferson himself, the place feels not so much like an institution as a bank baron’s estate. “It was huge to go to Jefferson,” says the mayor, who graduated from there in 1986. “To be Hispanic and say you are going to Jefferson, that was an honor.” Jefferson used to be very, very Anglo. For at least 30 years after it was built, it was the jewel of the new middle-class Anglo neighborhood on the West Side. By the late ’50s, however, Hispanics were making inroads into both the Jefferson neighborhood and the high school. Garza’s father, Martin Garza, raised in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood farther south, was persuaded by his father to give it a try. Trouble was, in 1958 there were only a handful of Hispanics at Jefferson, and Martin Garza met a wall of subtle and not-sosubtle discrimination, in the classroom and at football tryouts. \(“The other quarterback’s father was the vice principal. They of place, Martin dropped out of high school and joined his uncle in the house painting business. Martin Garza eventually finished high school at Fox Tech, went to college and bought a house in the still-Anglo, middleclass Jefferson neighborhood in 1966 just before he married. He was determined to move up. “We were among the first Mexican Americans on the block,” he said. “The coach that sold me the house told me I was bringing the barrio to Jefferson.” The Garza sons, Martin and Edward, were sent to Jefferson. The demographics of the city, and especially the Jefferson neighborhood, had changed dramatically in the intervening 20 years: Jefferson High School had become 70 percent Hispanic. The sons fared much better than their father had. Martin was valedictorian, while Edward was the junior and senior class president. “I don’t think that in the scope of things that what I have seen comes anywhere close to what my grandparents or many other people have seen firsthand,” Garza says when I ask him about discrimination. His personal experience is different, indistinct. “I think I’ve felt some subtle discriminationcertainly going from a predominantly Hispanic high school to an Anglo college,” he says of going to Texas A&M. “I was accepted because I was different… but reminded that I was different.” Garza entered politics young. He ran for student council president when he was 9 and joined his parents in many neighborhood political activities throughout his childhood. At 18 he organized opposition to a city council member, over a plan to revitalize the Jefferson neighborhood, and later took a job working in her office. Garza says he was advised by Cisneros to get a law degree and by others to go into business, but he found his deepest interest lay in city politics. When he returned to San Antonio from Texas A&M with his masters in urban planning, he quickly won a seat on city council. The comparisons to Cisneros and Gonzales began immediately. “I haven’t even taken a vote yet and you have no idea what I am going to do,” he laughingly recalls thinking. On city council, he became known for his diligent behind-the-scenes work and his talent for pulling the often-contentious and divided council together. He also took risks. He tried to stop tax abatements for development over the Edwards Aquifer and lost. He was a leading advocate for light rail, which lost in a referendum. A year or so later he led a fight to fluoridate the city’s water, an unpopular cause particularly among Hispanics on the South and West Sides. Fluoride passed and Garza solidified his reputation as a city-wide leader. Afew weeks after the election, I followed the mayor to a meeting at St. James Catholic Church held by COPS/Metro Alliance, a community organization with deep roots in the Hispanic south and west sides of the city. At COPS/Metro rallies, a large group of voters in this case, 600 people from affiliated congregations and schoolsask public officials to pledge their support for programs to help middleand low-income people. The rally began with song, prayer, and a round of short speeches praising Better Jobsa sales tax initiative to help fund job training, college scholarships, and after-school programs. Tom Frost, President of Frost Bank and an ardent supporter of Better Jobs, spun out stories in fluent Spanish to the largely Hispanic audience, and amid much laughter, dared the translator to translate it into English. COPS/Metro leaders had set up a stove in front of the stage where they moved pots of priorities around, dramatizing the political maneuvering among city council members to push Better Jobs to the “back burner.” Leaders invited Garza up to the stove to move the pot forward and crank up the heat. The mayor can look stiff sometimes, a little shy, like a policy aide unexpectedly called forward to rev up the crowd. But here, in front of his Hispanic neighbors and fellow parishioners, he loosened up. He gamely donned the enormous chef’s hat, moved the pot forward and gave it a big stir. The crowd roared, sounding proud to have him as mayor. “I’ll bring the soup if you bring the tortillas!” he promised in English, alluding to his commitment to pass the Better Jobs initiative. “You bring the money and we’ll bring the tortillas!!!” Pat Ozuna, a veteran leader, called back, to drive home the fact that what the organization wants is sales tax revenue. Garza gave a hearty laugh. He had made a promise he intends to keep. Garza’s Spanish is middling and cautious. He did television ads in Spanish during his campaign, and he says he managed conversations with constituents when he went door-to-door. But the Garza family’s diligent efforts at assimilation took their toll on the mayor’s childhood Spanish. Garza is third generation Mexican-American. His grandparents spoke to him in Spanish, and he replied mostly in English. He says that 9/28101 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7