An Open Letter to Peter Svarzbien


(May I call you Peter? I feel that with this kind of letter, it’s better to be chummy.)

Politics. Man, what can I say? There’s a reason politics, and politicians, have a bad reputation. Politics is (are?) dirty. But you don’t have to wallow in the filth. At least not till you’ve termed out.

Really? You renege on a campaign promise on your second week? And it wasn’t just an oral promise, you made in some backroom deal, out of the limelight. It was a promise you put on your campaign website, for all the world to screen grab. And it was’t equivocal. You came out and didn’t do what you exactly promised to do.

I hate to say it, because it sounds so fake, but as a politician, you aren’t just a person. You are also a brand. And as a brand, you have to stay true to your brand values. You have to have a consistent voice. You have to be believable. You have to win and keep the voters’ trust.

And the way you presented yourself, with the retro trolleys and the art, voting against the grant for the historical survey is inconsistent with what we voters perceived as your brand values, especially after you made the campaign promise to support it.

You see, Pedro, with the advent of the intertubes, marketing isn’t a one-way street anymore. Marketing isn’t top-down, unilateral, messaging. “Marketing is a dialogue now.” That phrase has been repeated so often that it’s trite. But it’s true.

(Do you have an internet? I have one in my room. It’s like a teevee with a typewriter attached.)

It’s not just brand management, Peter. It’s more than that. A person has to have a code. He/she has to have a set of values to guide his/her life. And a person has to stay true to those values regardless of the political costs.

Depending on continued voter apathy to win elections is a poor strategy. You’re in a position to make a meaningful difference. Don’t blow it.

Best of luck,


  1. I sent Peter a nice non accusative letter. I’ve never been much into politics but always loved the history of El Paso. I was saddened that all I got for a response was a general mass invitation to breakfast, even after I replied and asked if he read my letter…

  2. This excellent essay gets at the core of this betrayal, which El Paso voters shall not forget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *