Mayor turns hateful comment into fundraising opportunity for charity

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A Facebook comment aimed at smearing Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana has turned into a fundraiser for a local nonprofit.

The mayor said eating tacos is a badge of honor in Texas, and no comment will change his positive attitude.

“I asked the individual, ‘Did you call me a taco eater?’ He said ‘I sure did,'” Mayor Santellana said.

The man referred to Mayor Santellana on Wednesday, the day before Mexican Independence Day.

“Put a post out there that I think it’s a badge of honor. I didn’t think that post would gain a lot of traction,” Santellana said. “Basically I said if I get a thousand hands raised, we’ll throw a city-wide taco party, not sanctioned by the city, but I think I can get some people behind it.”

One of Santellana’s favorite sayings is ‘Positivity breeds positivity.’ That’s why when he saw the comment, he decided to turn it into a positive by raising more than $1,000 for Zavala Hispanic Cultural Initiative, a non- profit that promotes education and culture while empowering the Hispanic community.

“You get a lot of those comments when you’re in office,” Santellana said. “When he kind of picked at my heritage, I was like, well let’s see if I can make something positive out of this, and so far in less than 24 hours, we got a lot. I mean hundreds of people that are wanting to attend the event, to help with the event, give money; I think it’s good.”

“It’s important for us to realize culture and ethnicity and diversity and embrace it and be inclusive and use inclusive language,” Zavala Hispanic Cultural Initiative President Mario Ramirez said. “When someone degrades that in some sort of bigotry way or racist way, what a better way to combat it than turn into a positive right.”

As Hispanic Heritage Month begins, both men say they don’t let any comments like this one get to them, and they use this special month to spread their heritage and promote positive, inclusive energy.

“Zavala is a Hispanic organization that promotes education and culture and leadership, and so those all three align with what we do and what we wanna promote in the community, so things like this really help us promote that and push our mission,” Ramirez said.

The group and Santellana are using this opportunity to push Hispanic culture in the face of hatred during a very special time of the year.

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