COPS is a powerful acronym and the people behind the initials are proud of their non-partisan power. COPS is the name. Fair play and equity is the game.
COPS stands for Communities Organized for Public Service.
Together, with Metro Alliance, they gathered Saturday morning to proclaim their voices will be heard when the votes are counted for the children of the San Antonio Independent School District.
“COPS / Metro leaders support the bond,” said COPS/Metro Co-chair Maria Tijerina at Sacred Heart Church.
Tijerina says that fixing crumbling school buildings and a related tax change initiative for enrichment activities is vital to the life of the community.
“Our organization supports SAISD's Bond and Tax Ratification Election because we know that kids can't learn without air conditioning and good facilities,” she noted. “They can't get ahead without after-school and summer school programs. We want our children to have a fair shot, and we want school workers to have fair pay and living wages—the Bond and TRE will make this possible.”
“We'll be able to expand after-school programs, summer programs. We'll be able to keep our buildings open, pay our staff to be there,” Superintendent Pedro Martinez added.
About 50 people cheered for the cause, then they got to work, block-walking in west-side neighborhoods to encourage people to vote early.
Tijerina hit the streets near Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, her home parish.
“We decided to go ahead and put an all-out get-out-the-vote effort,” said Tijerina as she cited dismal turnout in past contests.
One step, one knock, one personal conversation and promise at a time, Tijerina went door to door at the homes of registered voters urging them to get involved.
Tijerina noted that producing a good turnout at the Las Palmas Library early voting location would be a good indicator of success.
County officials say that, so far, 4,157 voters have cast early ballots there.
Other members of COPS/Metro offered thoughtful commentary about how important the group is when it comes to accomplishing change for the disenfranchised.
Melissa Cessac says that, when she moved to San Antonio a few years ago, she was glad to find the group and even happier to be involved in the important work.
“As faithful citizens, it is absolutely imperative that we do our research and that we vote based on what our research and our faith tells us,” Cessac said. “If we never get out and do something about it, nothing will ever change.”
Joseph Oubre, who lives in east San Antonio, said he is looking forward to a new initiative by the group to draw more people into the process from many different faith communities.
“What we do is we increase what I call ‘people power,’” Oubre said. “We put people power against money power, you know, we always hope and pray that people power wins.”
When asked for single words that describe the group, Oubre chose “fulfillment” and “accomplishment.”
“Persistence is another word,” he said. “Dogged persistence, not just persistence. Dogged persistence. We do not give up.”
Esmerelda Rodriguez said that the 40-year-old organization continues to expand.
“The number that you saw this morning, it's only an iota of the group that we have. And COPS/Metro is continuing to grow,” Rodriguez said.
“COPS/Metro is important right now because we don't engage in the hateful talk,” Cessac explained. “We look at the issues and what is important with the issues and then we go from there. We educate people and we encourage them to vote on the issues that are really most important to them in their neighborhoods, in their schools, in their communities.”
Rodriguez issued an invitation to anyone who is tired of the current political climate of anger and distrust.
“Join us! Take the challenge with us and make things happen even quicker to bring change for the people that need it,” Rodriguez said.
Here is a link to a website that has more information about the SAISD ballot initiative: https://www.saisd.net/bondTRE2016/