In the race for Corpus Christi City Council District 4 there are 4 candidates, including incumbent Greg Smith. For the most part there wouldn’t usually be much of a race there but this time it is drawing some attention and that could mean a couple of things.
Smith has a lot of success to hang his hat on this term including being able to get the water exchange bridge pushed through on the Island, improvement projects to Laguna Shores and Ocean Drive and proving that he can work with other council members on important citywide deals. So why then all of the sudden attention?
We have interviewed 2 of Smith’s challengers (Dan Grimsbo and Jim Klein) to find out why they decided to challenge Smith and hear them out. Klein for the most part leans a little more towards the Democrat side of things and has identified desalination as a key issue for him. Grimsbo leaves you with the impression that he is focused on engineering process controls and infrastructure improvements. But he has yet to address key issues like budgetary management and process improvement within the city.
In the closing hours of the election Klein might have the bigger burden of selling himself to a squarely conservative district. Grimsbo is facing the burden of convincing the electorate that he can see beyond just engineering. But then there is the “other candidate,” Kaylynn Paxson.
Paxson is a young newcomer to local politics and was somehow able to convince the Coastal Bend Tea Party to endorse her. Beyond that she doesn’t have much to hang her hat on except for White Rain and a bunch of “blue sky.” That being said, it could be Paxson that poses a problem for Smith in a four horse race.
In 2018 Smith was able to capture nearly 70% of the vote against Richard Diaz where the voter turnout was just over 16,000 ballots. In 2016, he did nearly the same thing against Lloyd Stegemann, with Smith drawing over 10,000 of the 15,000+ votes punched. But as it goes, 2020 is different.
If each of the opponents draws just a little bit of attention that could mean a runoff for the seat.
District 4 has some big issues facing and Smith has so far been the only candidate to present viable arguments to issues like economic development, the homeless issue and project funding. Klein comes in a close second having shown interest in working towards a homeless solution and being knowledgeable enough to work through the politics of complex issues. Grimsbo by his own admission has a lot to learn. Paxson, well….has been largely absent by not responding to requests for interviews, candidate questionnaires from media sources, and being made available for hardball questioning ahead of early voting. A request from local NBC News affiliate KRIS-Six was returned blank, according to their report. But she has at least been making the GOP social circuit on places like the Island and local coffee shops when her schedule allows. She even blew off local radio powerhouse Bob Jones this week with a scheduling conflict. But regardless, it could be likely that she takes 500-1,000 votes away from the other candidates and that could hurt the incumbent.
At least a few of the people who had favored Smith over the past two cycles have admitted to jumping ship—mostly going to Grimsbo and that could hurt Smith and draw him into the dreaded runoff. But, if you are Smith that might not be a bad thing.
Their reasoning for jumping ship is they claim to feel abandoned by Smith—especially in Flour Bluff and over in the tenderloin along Ocean Drive. Smith says that his focus, if he is re-elected on Tuesday (or in December) is Flour Bluff and he makes it clear that he hasn’t forgotten them or abandoned them. In fact, Smith was able to get some major projects pushed through like Laguna Shores, Flour Bluff Drive and others. His argument hasn’t been helped by Paulette Guajardo who is running for mayor and has deep ties to the Bluff. One could argue that her back and forth saying one thing and doing another on hot-button items like homelessness is hurting him. Guajardo has thrown gas on several fires within the district as an at-large council member and she has pulled support from some very loyal sources. She hasn’t publicly weighed in on the race, but her influence has been felt.
District 4 is likely of the most economically diverse districts in the entire city and a lot depends on who voted for who in early voting. The checkered flag might not fly in this race on Tuesday, but in a dichotomous field Smith still has the biggest engine in the pack—even if there is traffic in the way.