Sirrano Takes On The Hard Fights Others Avoid, Including Public Corruption.
Sirrano Keith Baldeo is a Trinidad-born American citizen who grew up in New York, and lived in Los Angeles where he worked in the entertainment industry. It was in LA that he wrote his first book “When U.S. Immigration Affects You,” (a common sense understanding for immigrants in the United States,) after seeing the impact of immigration in the city. He returned to New York at 28 where he kept up with politics and how it affected religion. During that time he was also a dance instructor at Arthur Murray Dance Studio where he met and married his wife Stacey.
His passion for his faith as a Christian and seeing a lack of news relating to Christian issues led him to launch a newsletter called The Christian Chronicles.
After visiting people he knew in Paterson, New Jersey and seeing the separation of churches and the larger community, Sirrano felt the call to start a legitimate newspaper in the city that was once the largest manufacturing city in the United States. It was launched to address the issues and neglect facing the black community. Also seeing an equally large Hispanic community, his newspaper evolved to become multicultural and represent the diverse community. Sirrano and his wife bought a home about 12 minutes from the city of Paterson, where the newspaper was based.
After about a year of soft news, Sirrano couldn’t ignore the neglect and corruption in local government that he witnessed. He began reporting about the government’s inaction and misuse of power. He unashamedly focused on specific individuals one who doled out millions to a charter school and then received a job created for him in an alliance lobbying for more money from the city, including campaign contributions and other payoffs. Unfortunately for the newspaper, this official made himself very ‘likable’ and his schemes were largely unknown to the public, at first they rejected hearing the bad news about their popular official and shunned Sirrano.
He did not back down and continued reporting on public corruption and incompetence by the worst offenders. As the years went by, the newspaper and its publisher developed a very large following as the ‘go to’ news source to find out what going on in the local government.
In 2010 Sirrano returned to the purpose of his faith and launched an organization called Christian Heritage U.S. It came about when county officials were displaying Muslim and Jewish symbols during their religious celebrations, but the Christian cross was never displayed during similar celebrations. The local government stated the Muslim and Jewish symbols were not considered ‘religious’, but the cross was. Sirrano then authored a Resolution to designate September as Christian Heritage Month in Paterson, NJ and Passaic County, NJ.
“It recognizes and honors the diverse contributions and achievements Christian immigrants and their descendants have made to the heritage of our County, State and Nation. It aims to increase public awareness about the role Christian Americans have played in the development of our County, State and Nation and promotes the rich heritage and traditions of the Christian people who have shaped the fabric of American society and global heritage.” Each September he would join churches and officials to hold events and activities where the city celebrated Christians and gave to the less fortunate.
Sirrano has spent the last 11 years at city council meetings and county government meetings as the presence of his newspaper, learning and opposing budget items and laws that affected the communities. Residents began calling Sirrano to solve problems, rather than their officials or city departments. He earned the reputation as someone who would get things done and is credited for playing an integral role in the removal of two mayors and several officials for incompetence and neglectful activities.
As years went by, the city infrastructure, crime, taxes, lack of police response became worse. Frustrated with what was happening, Sirrano voiced to members of the city council that they were not doing the right thing for taxpayers. The council retaliated by blocking him from speaking at a public meeting and challenging their re-election as devastating to the city. The city took action to remove the newspaper from receiving critical information. Officials began contacting their friends in other publications to target Sirrano and attempt to discredit him. Despite showing the media(s) evidence and truth, the stories continued to favor the officials.
Vowing to continue pursuing an end to public corruption, Sirrano testified to an independent judge outside the city of Paterson and successfully charged seven council members with official misconduct. However, the case was suspiciously called back to the city where the prosecutor and judge (friendly with the officials) blocked it from a Grand Jury.
Intent to keep fighting, Sirrano took all twelve council members to Federal Court where a judge allowed the complaint and denied the officials request to dismiss it, citing there is strong evidence that they abused their power and all will be held personally responsible. The case is still pending trial where Sirrano is sure that the evidence will prove the corruption.
Sirrano has also spoken up against leaders after the deaths of several young black men and women in Paterson were overlooked / neglected. The leaders, including pastors, were benefiting from their friendships with officials and city agencies. During a council meeting, Sirrano called them out for not speaking up about police abuse and government neglect after another black man was killed in a hit-and-run by an officer who fled the scene. Some of the leaders in question proceeded to target Sirrano on social media, attempting to turn the black community against him. Despite the attacks, Sirrano grew in popularity and the Paterson community began petitioning for him to run for mayor. An online poll among the candidates showed him at 82% favorability for winning the Mayoral election (see Facebook page: Sirrano Keith Baldeo in NJ, March 2016).
However, with a pending Federal claim to prove public corruption in the city and tensions running high between Sirrano and the elected officials, a county prosecutor and judge, along with safety concerns, Sirrano opted to move to Texas where his wife grew up. Texas was where he had envisioned living since he was a child.
Once settled in Dallas, Sirrano took a break from the news business, but not from government. For the last year and a half, he attended the Dallas City Council meetings, up front and center, where he hoped to see a more subtle, friendly government. Unfortunately, the corruption and incompetence had him questioning the council’s ability to run the various parts of Dallas. After seeing the councilman in his district neglecting the black community, which is close to his heart, and the Latino community, Sirrano thought he would better represent the 10th District and ALL of its various communities and cultures. The final push came when the current councilman personally added $16 million in new taxes and other acts that would hurt the quality of life in Dallas.
Sirrano is now running for councilman of the 10th District of Dallas where he believes his 12 years of experience and government knowledge will help save Dallas from its current fiscal crisis. He is also looking to properly fund the police department, pledging $30 million and a starting salary of $66,000. He will specifically take on the crime in the 10th District and block the current councilman from raising taxes again, among other things.
Sirrano has traveled to Rome, Paris, Venice, Netherlands, Florence, the Dominican Republic, Puerto, Rico, the Caribbean and many various cities throughout the United States, observing different cultures and lifestyles and taking note of what works and what doesn’t. He has developed two programs under his organization, called Christian Heritage U.S., for minority children (but all are welcome), as passion projects. The first was a Christian-based program, inviting mothers to bring their children to events where they were fed, shown a Christian movie, taught the Gospel, given t-shirts stating “I am a Christian” and overall, just adding biblical principles to their lives. He also created a youth ‘millionaire’ program that teaches at-risk children in poor communities about money, ambition to be successful, having goals, a workable plan, and that hard work equals success. The program is five courses that allows kids to value money, what it takes be on their own, and that being poor doesn’t mean you have to stay poor.
Today, to his credit, Sirrano has a following of about 62,000 in Paterson who know he’s always been there for them, despite having nine council members and a mayor who he calls incompetent and corrupt. While he still answers those calls, his heart is now in Dallas.
Sirrano believes that if changes aren’t made, the future of Dallas could be to end up like Paterson, NJ. Paterson is a place he views as his “training ground.”
Recently he spoke at a public meeting in Dallas explaining that, as a publisher, he tried to warn people of Paterson not to elect or re-elect corrupted officials, and he called them by name. Some were re-elected anyway. He alleged that the officials know the campaign tricks: give out plaques to the leaders, honor them, create events and invite leaders who have control over the voters in the district. They sell new dreams and fantasy and people vote for them because they believe the lies. As he predicted, Paterson is now facing a crisis with 86 firefighters and 115 police officers in line to be laid off instead of hiring more, including all city workers forced to take 10 days off just to balance the budget. The city also sold off its property for pennies on the dollar to make ends meet. Sirrano feels Dallas is heading in that direction if he is not able to pull back on the reins and help, by being a councilman. He asks people to look around and vote for what is best for their district, instead of emotional attachment.
One of the most valuable pieces of feedback he received from residents of Paterson was that they didn’t trust any of the candidates and that once elected, they believed that no one would be better than the other. Many told Sirrano that if he ran, they would vote for him since he had proven himself trustworthy.
This is one main reason why Sirrano has entered the Dallas 10th District race. He believes that the 3rd candidate facing the current councilman is weak, with no government experience. The Dallas Morning News has called the 10th district one of the worst districts in Dallas and he knows that they need someone with experience who fights for communities – and with a track record of doing so.
Sirrano wants people to have a choice that they can trust in Dallas, who can defend and execute that trust to not serve self but to serve the people, as he did as president of a political, and what some would call, controversial, newspaper.
The election starts on April 22nd (early voting) and Sirrano Baldeo is #1 on the ballot in the 10th District.