Marcia Moreno should have settled her “debt to society” a long time ago; if not 23 years ago then she should have paid her traffic tickets before she decided to throw her hat into the Nogales City Council race.

That is the bottom line of a story published Friday in the NI (“NPD serves old warrant on candidate”). Yes, this was only a civil not criminal matter, but Politics 101 dictates that you either enter an election with a clean nose, or make sure all witnesses to your dirty deeds are dead or missing.

That somebody ratted out Moreno for political purposes there is no doubt. City Manager Shane Dille refuses to say who fingered her, but noted it came from more than one source.

The first possible camp is that of Esther Melendez-Lopez, Moreno’s opponent in the Nov. 6 general election. Another far-fetched theory is that supporters of Vice Mayor Olga Valdez, who lost miserably in the primary election, pushed for the revelation. Wags at City Hall suggested that Moreno might leave the campaign trail out of pure embarrassment and open the door for Olga to run. For traffic tickets?

Then there’s the more benevolent theory that someone took umbrage and exposed the arrest warrant because a red-light runner like Moreno could never touch the high bar of morality established at City Hall by such distinguished individuals as Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel.

What gets me is that since nobody wants to rat out the rats, the Nogales Police Department ends up being the villain even though the matter was handled with the utmost tact by all accounts. Moreno could have been cuffed and dragged out of her place of employment. Instead, officers allowed her to be driven by her sister to the station so she could pay her fine. They had no choice but to serve the warrant once it was brought to light. (Future politicians beware. The issue also revealed NPD has quite a few old warrants that have not been served).

In the end, this type of petty “scandal” behind a council seat that pays $25-per-month is exactly the kind of thing that tanks Nogales’ image despite all the catchy slogans and cultural fiestas and fandangos.

In the meantime the real issues are obscured and candidates avoid addressing more substantive matters like 19 percent unemployment; a looming trade war that could devastate the local produce industry; crumbling city infrastructure; and a stubborn impasse that obstructs good city-county relationships. Viva, Nogales.

(Coppola is publisher of the Nogales International and the Weekly Bulletin. Contact him at publisher@