Francisco Reina spent all day Tuesday meeting people and playing guitar in front of Craig's vote center at Centennial Mall. Reina failed to win a seat on the Craig City Council. He received 105 votes.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Francisco Reina spent all day Tuesday meeting people and playing guitar in front of Craig's vote center at Centennial Mall. Reina failed to win a seat on the Craig City Council. He received 105 votes.

Council candidate's hope runs high, results fall short

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Francisco Reina always has worked with his hands.

It has not been an easy life, the 63-year-old said Tuesday morning.

Reina stood in the Centennial Mall parking lot - Craig's only vote center for the 2009 municipal election.

Although politics is not the same as getting a job at 10 years old to put food on his family's table or starting his own contracting business, he approached the last day of his candidacy as he has most everything else.

He took matters into his own hands.

Arriving in the parking lot when polls opened at 7 a.m., Reina stayed until the polls closed at 7 p.m., talking to people whenever he could and hanging campaign signs on his white and blue 1976 Ford F-150.

Election laws prevented him from going within 100 feet of the mall entrance, and Reina stayed outside of the legal boundary, but he wasn't going to leave the area.

He was optimistic about his chances in the election.

He said he felt good.

He said, "It's going to be a good day."

11 a.m.

Reina hasn't had the chance to shake hands with more than a few people, but his spirits are high.

"Not too many people have come this morning," he says. "I feel good, though. I think we have a pretty good chance to get good results in the election."

During the lulls, when there aren't people around for Reina to meet, he passes the time playing his guitar, mostly flamenco music from his home country, Spain.

Like most of his other skills, he taught himself.

The guitar, dressed with gold trim around the tuning keys at the top of the neck, means as much or more to him as the campaign.

Running for office is something of a return to the community for Reina after a long sabbatical.

Meeting people in the parking lot brought back memories of how he used to know almost the whole town, either through the construction business or coaching children's soccer teams.

"A lot of people know me, but the last 10 to 15 years, I haven't been close to the people," Reina says. "With this, the election, I got to thinking I need to get back."

Winning won't make or break him, though, he adds. He has seen too much, lived too long and is too happy with his life to invest everything in the council race.

"I am happy," Reina says. "I am retired. I have my time now. I can play my guitar, go see my son in Denver. I have everything. If I don't win, maybe I will move to Denver to be with him, or maybe I will go back to Spain.

"Either way, I will win."

3 p.m.

Reina stops playing guitar so he can try and recruit a group of people to stand with him outside the polling place.

There are not many people around, though, and he can't find anyone who's at the mall to vote.

Still, his mood is bright.

"A lot of people shake my hand and say, 'Good luck,' or give me courage," Reina says. "But, whatever the outcome, I will be OK."

If he loses, Reina knows he has been through worse.

Although the afternoon is considerably hotter than in the morning, Reina still wears a full suit, sweater and dress shirt.

He has to, he says. His body is always cold after a near-death accident he was in a few years ago.

While working for Anson Excavating & Pipe at Colowyo Mine, a gas tanker struck the driver's side of his work truck and put him in a Grand Junction hospital.

"I was over there in pieces after that," Reina says. "It broke the left side of my body, but I am here. Now, I'm fine. I think it was not my time. I believe in God. That's the only way I am still alive."

The sting of an election defeat could not match that, he says.

"I don't feel pain," Reina says with a joking smile.

7 p.m.

Reina is outside of the Moffat County Courthouse, where election officials set up counting machines and other equipment needed to count votes.

He is playing a song on his guitar with one foot propped up on his truck's dashboard.

"This is fun for me," Reina says. "I think we're going to be good. I think it will all be good. I think I'm crazy. I've got to believe."

Roughly 30 minutes later, Craig City Clerk Shirley Seely reads off the results with Reina and three of the other six council candidates gathered around.

The vote: 640 ballots cast, an 11.4 percent turnout.

Incumbent Gene Bilodeau: 497 votes, 21 percent. Hopeful Jennifer Riley: 497 votes, 21 percent.

Incumbent Terry Carwile: 484 votes, 20.5 percent. Incumbent Byron Willems: 429 votes, 18.1 percent.

Reina: 105 votes, 4.4 percent.

Although he finished in last place, and will not win a seat on the council, Reina only stops smiling for a brief moment.

"I am happy," he says after congratulating and shaking the hands of the other candidates. "This way, I am free. I like to be free."

Reina is not as nonchalant about what he thinks will happen to Craig's poor and working class without him on the council.

Here, his voice becomes stern.

"My only hope was to help people who need help," he says. "They are in trouble because the city doesn't care for the middle class, the poor class."

He wanted to start a sidewalk-building program.

"We can give people jobs, and it will come to benefit the community forever," Reina says.

He wanted to lower utility costs.

"People can't afford to live in their homes," Reina says. "Something needs to be done about that, and no one else seems to want to talk about it."

But, none of that will happen now.

Still, Reina has no regrets.

Although he lost, he says he is a self-made man who did his best to run his campaign, and he can be happy with that.

He looks over his shoulder to give a final wave to the crowd still gathered at the courthouse and then prepares to leave.

From morning to night, Reina remained optimistic, and his mood is unchanged as he gets into his truck, where his guitar sits in the passenger seat.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.

Comments

greeneyedgurl 5 years, 4 months ago

I bet making nasty comments about the soccer coach didn't help.

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rockstar 5 years, 4 months ago

I think it's unfortunate that this became headline news when this candidate had to be chased out of his campaigning location on multiple occasions becuase he was campaigning too close to a polling place. Not only that, citizen after citizen was harangued by him near the doors of the mall on election day. The other thing I hope the City considers is the amount of money Reina spent on his campaign. I guess the $500 cap doesn't matter if you don't report it and don't care.

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