How serious is Juan Rodriguez about running for city government?
Juan Rodriguez got a lot attention for launching his mayoral campaign last week in what may or may not have been a strip club, and so far, the questionable venue remains his most prominent political feature.
For the record, Rodriguez told AL DIA, it was a last resort.
“Wherever I decided to do the announcement I don’t think is important," he said. "I was going to do it in front of some old houses of low-income residents so that local government would notice them and fix them up, but because of the cold temperatures, we had to do it in the bar.”
He is reported to be a retired tow-truck driver. Rodriguez ran as a write-in candidate for mayor in the 2011 election. His campaign began after a judge removed his ballot from the race against Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez for the 7th district City Council seat. Then, according to the Inquirer, an undeterred Rodriguez filed in 2014 to run in the Democratic primary for the state House 197th District.
With two small pokes at public office, his name is on the radar — but maybe not in the best way.
"I don't know him at all, nobody does I guess,” former councilman at-large Angel Ortiz said. “He does this every time there's an election and never even gets on the ballot. I don't think he is relevant in terms of what we are talking about."
Still, some say it’s good that there’s another Latino in the race.
“My perspective is the more the merrier,” former Councilman at-large Juan Ramos said, who wasn’t even aware Rodriguez was running. “It’s good for Latinos to be thinking of being elected public officials. I think is a very good thing that there are Latinos out there that are interested in running for public office. For too long it was just a handful of us.”
Was this planned or is Rodriguez winging it? His announcement last week at the “Juniors’ Night Club” wasn’t exactly out of left field. On his Facebook page, which is public, Rodriguez has been announcing his mayoral bid to his some 5,000 Facebook friends since April of last year:
Then again, as of February 20, 2015, Rodriguez still seems under the impression that he is “the first Latino to run for mayor.”
He’s in fact the third Latino to run, following Ken Trujillo, who has since dropped out, and Judge Nelson Diaz, who is still “in it to win it.” We asked Diaz how he felt about Rodriguez’ joining the race.
“We look forward to having a vigorous debate with every candidate who makes the ballot," he said.
And making the ballot is key, especially since it's not 100 percent clear which ballot he'll go for. As of his mayoral announcement last week, Rodriguez still hadn’t opened up a campaign finance account. He told AL DÍA that he has collected "almost 2000" signatures for his petition, but hasn't made up his mind whether to file them as the eighth democrat in the mayoral race, or file them in the running for 7th District City Council seat (again).
"Well right now I don’t want to disclose that," he said. "A lot of people is asking me that same question and I am not ready to come out in public to announce that yet."
Will he get his campaign finances in order?
"Right now we are working on that but I am not doing it just for the money, this is really not about the money. This is really about helping people. I am trying to make people wake up and live reality so they can see what is going on out here."
And how serious is he about seeking political office?
"I warned people four years ago when I ran about what was going on, and they took me as a joke. You have to understand these people already in office [think] I am the new guy, you know? They are going to try to take advantage, but I am not going to back off."
We'll see how Rodriguez's platform unfolds in the coming days. But for now, here are some Facebook posts from over the course of his politically active years.
On the Nutter administration before 2011 reelection…
On blocking medical marijuana…
On the death penalty and revenge…
On paying taxes…
Regarding “poking” people on Facebook…
A shoutout to the ladies…