Till a few minutes ago, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano and I had been playing a marathon game of phone tag in recent days, following District 2 council candidate Billy MacLeod's efforts to get the city, county and even the Department of Justice to remove Esperanza "Hope" Medrano Elementary School from the list of polling locations for the May 14 election. MacLeod has pointed out, repeatedly, that the school is named after the council member's mother and insists having the name Medrano all over the polling place is a "clear violation" of the Texas Election Code, which prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of "an outside door through which a voter may enter the building."
Medrano says this morning that she has no intention of asking the city to move locations. First of all, she says, City Attorney Tom Perkins and City Secretary Deborah Watkins have "confirmed that it's been a polling location for a little more than 10 years," and if they don't have an issue with it, neither does she.
"It's [MacLeod's] right to ask," she says. "But he ran against me two years ago, and he never said anything about it then. I don't know why it wasn't a problem then but is now. I think most people in the district, when you ask where they're going to vote, they'll say, 'At the school on Lucas.' I don't know if they equate Hope Medrano with Pauline Medrano, and I have never, ever in my campaign mentioned I am 'the daughter of,' 'the sister of.' My signs say 'Pauline Medrano.' I believe I have 26 years of community service in this city...and I believe I stand on the services I have provided for people in this community and city and have never ridden on my parents' coattails. I am my own individual."
MacLeod says this morning he didn't make an issue of it then because "I was running a positive campaign last time based on issues, I didn't want to go negative, and I was assuming it would be a fair fight." But after voter-fraud concerns were raised after the March 2010 election of Dallas County JP Carlos Medrano, Pauline's brother, and after Carlos's niece was indicted on voter-fraud charges two weeks ago, he decided this time he would make an issue of it.
"Precinct 3007 is ground zero for every allegation of voter fraud launched," MacLeod says.
MacLeod has asked the city, county and Justice Department to consider moving the polling place to Sam Houston Elementary. When asked if she'd have a problem with that, Medrano said it's the city's call, but, yes, she would.
"I would not recommend Sam Houston," she says. "It would not be allowed because it's in a different precinct. I think the Department of Justice would have to clear it. That would be for them to answer. And then you have to consider the people in the voting precinct and make sure you're not trying to suppress their vote by changing the location."
MacLeod has won one argument: The city secretary will ask the city council to replace elections judge Armando Cruz, who does work for the Medrano family, with Yvonne Williams at the April 27 meeting. That appointment led to MacLeod filing an ethics complaint with the city, which will be heard by three members of the Ethics Advisory Commission on May 2 at 2 p.m. at Dallas City Hall.
When asked about that complaint, Medrano said: "I just received the electronic complaint yesterday afternoon. I was at [a Regional Transportation Council meeting], and I will be reading it, and I will be responding." Then, she laughs: "It's election time, you know?"