Call it a case of he said, she said, you said, I said.
Galveston mayoral candidate Roger “Bo” Quiroga on Sunday accused a Galveston business owner — who also manages a political action committee critical of Quiroga — of being racist by posting a video clip of the candidate making an ethnic comment about himself.
Restaurant owner Lisa Blair said she was merely broadcasting Quiroga’s own words.
A review of a video of a campaign speech shows Quiroga did indeed make the comment Blair posted and then commented on herself, which then inspired an accusation of racism from Quiroga.
Quiroga on Monday morning declined to repeat his criticism of Blair. Blair’s committee accused Quiroga of lying.
Blair manages Galveston Moving Forward, a political action committee that endorsed Mayor pro tem Craig Brown in the mayoral race. The committee has been one of the most vocal critics of Quiroga and his campaign.
On Saturday, Quiroga met with supporters at Galveston’s VFW Hall and gave a short address to the dozen or so people who showed up. Johnny Smecca, a Galveston school board trustee and restaurant owner, posted the video on his personal Facebook page. The video also appeared on Quiroga’s campaign page.
During his speech, Quiroga pledged to make cuts in the city planning department and code enforcement office, while also maintaining levels of service from both.
“Believe me, I’m a clean Mexican,” Quiroga said. “I want the streets cleaned. I want the paper picked up. I want everything looking real good. We want to show our city off. But we can’t with those guys looking at other people’s property.”
In the comments of Smecca’s post, Blair wrote “He’s a clean Mexican? Wow.”
Later Sunday evening, Quiroga sent an email to supporters and posted on Facebook a screenshot of Blair’s comment. "
This kind of racism has no place in our lives or our public service," Quiroga said. He called the comment “an affront directed at any segment of Galveston’s diverse population.”
Quiroga’s email didn’t include a link to the video in which he used the same phrase or explain the context in which he made it. Smecca removed the video from his own page, and it didn’t appear to be posted anywhere else.
On Monday morning, however, Galveston Moving Forward posted a four-second clip of the video that clearly shows Quiroga using the phrase about which Blair commented and to which Quiroga objected.
In a statement to The Daily News, Galveston Moving Forward said the video was posted to Quiroga’s campaign Facebook page and then removed and replaced with a screenshot attacking Blair and taking her comment out of context.
“This is what is wrong with local politics and one of the reasons we created our page,” the organization said in its statement.
Quiroga on Monday morning said he wasn’t interested in talking about his criticisms about Blair being racist or the context in which he made his own comments.
“I’m not going to talk about it,” Quiroga said. “I don’t want to talk about it because I’m very upset about it. The best thing for me is to just keep it to myself.”
Quiroga said he was truly upset about a different Facebook comment he accused Blair of making, apparently criticizing him for not wearing a face mask while speaking to the group at the VFW.
Quiroga in his newsletter said that Blair wrote, “Not to wish anyone ill, but maybe we let nature take her revenge.”
He took offense to that because he is being treated for cancer, he said.
Blair didn’t write that comment, however.
Allison Brown wrote the comment in response to Blair criticizing Quiroga and other candidates for hosting and attending meetings without face coverings or practicing social distancing, in defiance of the city’s COVID-19 guidelines.
Allison Brown is not related to Craig Brown. Craig Brown on Monday declined to comment on Quiroga’s comments and disagreements with Blair.
Early voting in the Galveston mayoral run-off election begins Nov. 30. The run-off election is Dec. 15.