Crabs and Candidates

So this is is a double post, one because I’m lazy and didn’t want to write and upload 2 posts, and secondly, if you’re gonna grill someone in politics, it’s always fun to do so with them in a food bib, makes it less intimidating. 🙂

I met Melissa randomly in Downtown El Paso in October 2021 at “Chalk the Block” with her family. She was “walking the block” and meeting people, so I guess I was one of them. She spotted me and we got to talking. She recognized me from my posts on the M.O.B Facebook group which is a great resource and non-profit advocate for our all abilities parks and recreation in El Paso, btw. Our kids are similar ages and they quickly struck up a quick friendship over trains. We then all proceeded to the Museum of Art to make train models as I told her that was where we were headed. She shared with me about how she wanted to run for a position that someone was retiring from El Paso’s County Court at Law #3 and invited me to her campaign kickoff event. As I just voted at the last election and the turnout was dismal I felt that I had to come out because, what if she didn’t have a lot of people? She was taking time off from being a great mom to serve and the least I can do is show up as a warm body. After all, over the court’s 50-year history, no female has ever been the judge.

I had the Lowe’s Halloween event and her event at the same time and hubby had to work late so I was stuck doing both as I planned on him taking the kids to the trick or treating event and I would be free to attend Melissa’s event. What ended up happening was that I took them to both. I wore a costume (it was Mario themed) so the kids were Mario and Rosalina and I was stuck in a literal monkey suit, Donkey Kong, which was supposed to be hubby’s costume. We didn’t have time to change and I messaged her that I had the kids and would it be ok to come as is. She graciously said yes, and I went thinking it’s a small event with other families there.  Welp, I was wrong, wrong, wrong. It was at a Law Firm’s courtyard and everyone was there in suits and they were all adults, no kids. Here I am, in a literal monkey suit, with 2 little kids in tow. I figured since I was there I might as well make the best of it and strode in. 

Honestly it was a great experience. Not only did I see Melissa’s passionate speech about why she was running (her family has a history of community service and giving back) but I got to meet Justin Underwood (he’s a lawyer too) and taste his amazing BBQ. It was finger licking good and his bbq sauce was made with agave/mezcal which made it smoky and sticky and delectable. Central Texas technique with Southwestern flavors, what a dynamite combo. I think he caters so that’s why he was there. Everyone was soooo nice to me and my kids and they got a kick out of the costume, which I appreciated since it’s pretty embarrassing to show up to a formal event in a costume with kids in tow. Melissa was super gracious and understanding and she was genuinely glad to see us and appreciated our presence and support. I didn’t really have to come to be a warm body as she had a lot of community turn out to support her. 

  

After that event, she started doing a lot more campaigning and I saw her at various events, like at the Beto campaign stop in El Paso at Deadbeach Brewery. I mentioned it was my bday coming up and she told me she wanted to take me to lunch to celebrate. I wanted to find out more about her race and why that affects an ordinary citizen like me so I happily agreed. We met up at the Crazy Crab in the Fountains of Farah for lunch, I told her she might smell like seafood and Cajun spices, which might help since everyone loves Popeye’s chicken sandwiches (which is the general flavors). She’s never had a crab boil and I wanted to try out the Crazy Crab since it was a new franchise in town.

I lived in Houston and Southern California who had a huge Vietnamese population and they popularized Viejun (Vietnamese Cajun). A ton of Vietnamese shrimp farmers settled in Louisiana and Houston and so adopted the popular crawfish and crab boils from the Cajun folks and made it their own flavor with ingredients like lemongrass, garlic, and fish sauce. Since both the Vietnamese and Cajun cuisines were heavily influenced by French cuisine (they were both colonies of France), the flavors melded extraordinarily well and so Viejun was born. We have another iteration of the cuisine at Crab Station in the Westside which is really good btw, but the Crazy Crab is another option I wanted to test.

The Crazy Crab is spacious and the decor is a mix of a lounge and reminiscent of the hull of a ship. It’s classy but not so intimidating with rolls of paper towels and construction paper tablecloths. They provide the bibs, gloves, napkins, buckets and lemons to keep yourself clean and tidy as you’re literally digging into a bag of seafood. Service was very nice and attentive (they checked in on us often, we were probably one of 2 tables there), and kept our water glasses full. They have great combos for lunch (pretty inexpensive) I ordered the catfish and shrimp basket, and we each got a 1/2 lb of shrimp in a bag; we got the all in sauce, hers was medium and I went for wimp mild. 

The bag came first and contained a potato, a corn cob, and approx. 8 headless shrimp already deveined and the shell half cut off with tail on. I ate mine with the shell, and Melissa was surprised since she eats hers peeled. I told her that I liked the texture and I’m pretty lazy. LOL I normally just order shrimp because for the amount of seafood you get more bang for your buck and in a bag like this, the different seafood like crawfish/crab/ mussels, etc are super messy and hard to deal with and they all taste the same, the difference to me is the work and textures of the meat. She trusted me and got her bib on and we dug in.

As we attacked the food, she told me all about how the courts worked in El Paso. This certain #3 County Court of Law acts like a small claims court alternative, in my limited understanding. If you’re suing/being sued for something like breach of contract (like if someone didn’t live up to the terms of a rental agreement), or you get in a car accident, or your employer discriminated against you, then you could end up in this court. I’m still trying to figure it all out, but the gist of it is that you should care because you could end up in front of a judge in this court. Think about all of the court involvement over the past two years addressing issues like mask mandates!

Why should I vote for her, I asked? She’s a workaholic it seems, and that her work ethic and experience serves the constituents well, since she’s had experience on both sides of a civil case as a lawyer for plaintiffs and defendants, so she can be fair and see both sides. On the personal side, even though the position pays well, as a lawyer with her own private practice, she might be losing out on money, but gain steady hours to be there for her kids and also help serve her community which she is passionate about, just like her grandmothers.  I googled “How much does a Judge/Magistrate make in El Paso, TX?” Answer: The average Judge/Magistrate salary in El Paso, TX is $149,777 as of December 27, 2021, but the range typically falls between $146,916 and $167,617. 

I mean, it’s a lot of work just to campaign and she’s putting part of her practice on hold, block walking to get out the vote, meeting people and going to events to campaign. She started last year and early voting starts next month from February 14-25, 2022 and the Primary Election is March 1, 2022. Because the judge is retiring there is no incumbent to run against and her opponents are 2 other Democrats attorneys. You have to be an attorney to apply, unlike other positions. Since there is no Republican opponent the one who wins the primary will basically win it all and start in 2023.

She had nothing but good things to say about her opponents and said that she believes everyone will do a good job, but she believes she has the experience and the work ethic to serve the people well. I’m really glad because when I moved here, I saw a really contentious race where the opponents were calling each other names, suing each other for stealing signs, their supporters were harassing each other and doing other shady stuff that was pretty intense and embarrassing to see. That’s the dirty politics that no one likes and I’m happy this race is nice and civilized. 

As we were talking the catfish basket came out and we tried the fried catfish, it was very good and flavorful, it was marinated and I’m glad since I don’t like the British style where the fish is basically flavorless but the batter is seasoned and you have to put a ton of malt vinegar to make it taste good. The shrimp was plump and juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and the fries were really good and crunchy. I didn’t like their tartar sauce, it was too eggy tasting, but the cocktail sauce was bomb, super tangy and had a ton of horseradish. The seafood boil was good, not too spicy for me which indicates they listen to spice levels, and it was very very garlicky. I think I still like the shebang sauce at Crab Station a bit more, but the seafood here is really fresh tasting (they must go thru a lot to generate that turnover). We really liked it and will probably come back since everything came out to be like $35, which is super affordable for all that food we got. We were stuffed and she said later that she was glad she walked the block in the morning because she did smell like garlic all day. 🙂

I’m super glad I met her and found out more about the position and how much work it is to run for office. It’s a civic duty and I’m glad there are educated and community minded individuals like her running. I appreciate that there are several candidates and we are lucky to have choices in El Paso. If you want to learn more about Melissa here is her website. You can probably see her around town walking the block as well. I encourage you to do your research, be informed, and also go VOTE. It matters and our tax dollars are funding all this.
https://www.melissabaeza.com/

Oh and Crazy Crab is an awesome addition to El Paso. 🙂
https://goo.gl/maps/x5YAxrEupefc6Gkm8
8889 Gateway Blvd W Ste. 1530, El Paso, TX 79925

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