Sullivan City political team receiving boost through in-kind donations

SULLIVAN CITY — In the race to win voters in the lead-up to Saturday’s city elections, one candidate, City Commissioner Leo Garcia, received a big push from in-kind donations, according to campaign finance reports.

The reports, which track contributions and expenditures from March 8 through April 6, showed that Garcia, who is running for mayor on the “Sull1van” slate received a total of $2,500 worth of in-kind contributions in advertising.

Along with Garcia, the Sull1van slate includes Sylvia Castillo, a political newcomer, and Gabriel Salinas, an engineer who used to serve on the La Joya school board. They both reported no contributions or expenditures.

The contributions to Garcia, however, included donations from Peñitas City Manager Omar Romero, James Granchelli, president of Granchelli Construction which was contracted to build the new Peñitas city hall, Jonathan Sakulenzki, a benefits consultant who briefly served as interim fire chief for the Peñitas volunteer fire department, and the campaign account of state Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-Peñitas.

Monetary contributions to Garcia totaled $3,500 and out of that amount, he reported spending $1,500 in advertising.

Among the monetary contributors was La Joya school board trustee and former Peñitas Commissioner Armin Garza’s campaign which donated $500 and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, a law firm with offices in Edinburg, which donated $1,000.

Their opponents on the Sullivan Moving Forward team include current Mayor Rosendo “Cheno” Benavides, current Commissioner Joel Flores and Rene Peña.

They did not report any in-kind donations but did receive $7,040 in monetary contributions. Of those contributions, they reported spending $2,537.93.

Their highest contribution was $5,000 from County Commissioner Joe Flores’ campaign.

“They’re part of my team, they’ve always supported me,” Flores said regarding why he chose to support them.

He said that despite the Sull1van team’s strong campaign, he believed the election would be close with turnout around 60 percent.

There were over 900 early votes cast through Monday. The city has a population around 4,000 with 2,500 residents being of voting age, according to the 2010 census.