MABTON - While technically the Mabton City Council has no jurisdiction over Mabton Community Days and Miss Mabton Pageant activities, parents of the Miss Mabton candidates found themselves in front of the council last night (Tuesday) with a laundry list of complaints.
The room was divided by those who had complaints about pageant director Rachel Ruelas' handling of pre-pageant activities and those who support her volunteer efforts.
"The Council chambers is the only public forum they have available to them," said Ildia Jackson, Mabton City Administrator.
"Technically, we have no say in the pageant program as the City don't give it any type of financial support. All support for the pageant is generated by the candidates under the direction of Ruelas," she explained.
Nevertheless, the candidates' parents voiced questions about the lack of advance planning and communication between them and Ruelas, who is in her second year as the pageant coordinator.
Saying there ought to be more communication with the parents, Jay Bonewell, the father of one of the candidates, said he was concerned about the negative impression the candidates are receiving about the program. "This no way to run a program," he said.
He said parents were not being kept informed of the activities required of the candidates. "We as parents are not allowed to help out and when we step forward to help, we are shouted down," he said.
As part of their pre-pageant activities candidates are asked to help raise funds via car washes and bake sales, in addition to attending area parades.
"That's all well and good, but we need more advance notice," Bonewell said.
He was upset with Ruelas, who apparently became upset when his wife offered to help register the girls for an appearance in the recent Sunnyside Cinco De Mayo Parade.
"But we had all agreed not to participate in the parade, because it was on Mother's Day," offered Ruelas.
"Mrs. Bonewell went ahead and registered them anyway without consulting me," she said.
"We can't have every parent scheduling the girls' time for things without my clearance," she explained.
Maria Beltran, the mother of the current Miss Mabton, said she also became concerned when her daughter was left out of recent parade activities.
"Sofie (Beltran) wasn't even invited," Beltran said.
"We've not been invited to participate in any of the parades, but the candidates were," she said.
Rachel Sanchez, whose daughter is currently seeking the Miss Mabton crown, said her daughter was not notified of changes in the schedule, which includes pageant rehearsals, parades and fund-raisers.
"She had to find out from the other candidates, and that is not right," Sanchez added.
"I hope this is not how everything is going to go for her," she said.
"I'd just like to know what is going on," Sanchez said.
Ruelas said she heard last Friday that there was a move afoot to have her removed as the pageant director. Ruelas stressed she has no thought of stepping down at this time.
"I plan to go ahead with our June 11 pageant," she said.
Ruelas said as the pageant coordinator, all activities involving the candidates must be cleared through her before they can participate in events.
"That rule is understood before we start, but apparently not by all parents," Ruelas said.
Ruelas, who only recently began preparing the five Mabton High School girls for the pageant, said she has attempted to contact all of the candidates.
"I admit there has been difficulties with the communication, but as far as advance scheduling goes, sometimes events pop up quickly and we have to jump on the chance to participate in car washes or bake sales," she said.
Mabton Mayor David Conradt said there wasn't anything the Council could do to solve the parents and pageant coordinator's problems.
"You'll have to work out these issues among yourselves," Conradt said.
"We are not trying to make light of your concerns. But our job is to pass laws and manage the city budget, not intervene in these types of disputes," he said.
At this point Ruelas said she plans to proceed with the pageant, to be held at the Artz-Fox Elementary School gym.