“My point is let the best person get the job.” That was the message Pablo Pereyra gave to the Midtown Republican Club Tuesday night.
Originally from Uruguay, Pereyra gave us his insight on what happened at the County Commission meeting when Henri Brooks got angry on the topic of allocating jobs.
In case you forgot, Commercial Appeal reported what happened:
They were volatile words from Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks, who on Monday questioned why only Hispanic workers were employed by a roofing contractor and who told a Hispanic man that unlike her people, his came to this country by choice.
The statements left 20-year Shelby County resident Pablo Pereyra “shell shocked” as the County Commission debated the ethnicity of a roofing contractor’s employees.
B Four Plied Inc. was chosen to replace the roof on the Peggy Edmiston Administration Building on Mullins Station Road. It’s a $1.7 million job.
However, the company has 25 roofers who are Hispanic and none are African-American, said Commissioner Walter Bailey.
Brooks, who did not respond to messages left on her cell phone or at her campaign headquarters Wednesday, voiced in the meeting her frustration “when we always leave out black folk.”
Pereyra, who was at the commission for another matter, took issue with the implication that Hispanics weren’t the right minorities.
“I know what it’s like to be a minority. I grew up in Memphis and I can tell you being a Hispanic in Memphis is definitely the minority of the minorities,” Pereyra told the board.
And Brooks responded:
“And let me just say one last thing. You asked to come here. You asked to come here, we did not and when we got here, our condition was so egregious, so barbaric,” she said. “Don’t ever let that come out of your mouth again because — you know what? — that hurts your case. Don’t compare the two, they’re not comparable.”
Pereyra doesn’t hold any grudges. “Black and white, women and men came up to me afterwards and said ‘that’s not who we are,'” he said. “I wasn’t there to make anyone upset.
“Remember how it was with the Irish in the 1900s? ‘Irish Need Not Apply’ was posted. I ask her (Commissioner Brooks) is that what we’re going to have? She was treating me like a child.”
What he does believe in is “that the best person gets the job.”
Pereyra also believes in our system of representative government. “Who represents me?” he asked. “I pay taxes. Who’s going to represent Hispanics? Fewer than 3,000 vote,” he said. “Now we have someone to vote for in Geoff Diaz,” he added.
“Hispanics and Republicans align very well. We believe in hard work and faith. And we are not the party that is robbing the next generation. We believe in the beautiful thing we call the American Dream. Ask Hispanics ‘do you want to mortgage the future?’ That alone will get their attention,” he said of outreach.
Pereyra praised state Senator Mark Norris’ efforts to pass a law allowing children born in the U.S.to undocumented workers to pay in state tuition at colleges and universities, if they’ve lived here at least a year. He also pointed to Governor Suzanna Martinez of New Mexico as another Republican who “knows that this is the greatest land of opportunity and we have laws.”
Pereyra doesn’t call for vast immigration reform bills. “We should apply the laws we have. Put us on the same page,” he said, illustrating his point with drivers licenses.
He told about a Hispanic child here run over by a Hispanic driver. He explained that a citizen could not get away with it, but there are not really consequences for illegals. That is damaging to both communities.
“They should have to get a permit. Not license, a permit. They should have to take a test, make them pay insurance and be accountable. They would have to do that to get a permit. If a citizen is arrested for DUI they lock him up. An illegal often doesn’t have to face these consequences.”
Mr. Pereyra has been instrumental, along with Shelby GOP member Sharon Ohsfeldt, in spearheading a new group called the Hispanic Republican Alliance. They are meeting monthly at Panera to discuss politics and getting their message across. The group has sprung up just since October and looks forward to getting bigger.
Pereyra adds that he is a big fan of Dale Carnegie and has taken their course. “I believe you should stand up, speak up and be counted.”