Although City Council elections are still months away, some early vying for the District 8 seat is already taking shape.
Two of the most visible candidates so far include attorney and incumbent Manny Pelaez, who is seeking a second term, and Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe, a political consultant and transgender woman.
If she unseats Pelaez, Gonzales-Wolfe would be the first transgender person in San Antonio to serve on City Council, according to records.
Elections are May 4, with early voting April 22-30. Filing to run for office opens Jan. 16 and closes at 5 p.m. Feb. 15. Terms are for two years.
Pelaez wants to stay in office to finish projects started during his first term, he said.
He believes the challenges faced by District 8 require leadership built on “expertise and experience,” which was his original platform.
The incumbent won a June 2017 runoff with 55 percent of the vote against Cynthia Brehm. The post was open because District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg left to successfully run for mayor.
During the past two years, Pelaez said his district has seen some victories.
His office tackled panhandling and homeless encampments, “picked a serious fight” with the Bexar Appraisal District over what many consider unfair assessments, and shined a light on the city’s domestic-violence crisis.
“I bring accomplishments, a proven track record, and seriousness to a conversation about the kind of city we are and the kind of city we’re going to be if we manage the next steps correctly,” Pelaez said.
One issue for the district’s next representative is to get acquainted with the new city manager, since Sheryl Sculley will be retiring in June after more than 13 years.
Pelaez said he wishes Gonzales-Wolfe well in the campaign.
“I’ve never met Frankie, but I welcome the opportunity to engage in a public dialogue with Frankie about District 8’s needs, our qualifications and accomplishments,” Pelaez said.
Gonzales-Wolfe said she’s running for the people in the district and not specifically against Pelaez or any other office seeker.
“There are some things I feel like I can agree with (Pelaez) on, there are things that I would have done differently, but that’s just anybody. I don’t believe you’re ever going to agree 100 percent with any politician,” Gonzales-Wolfe said.
She announced her intent to run in November during Transgender Awareness Week.
“I’m proud of what I’m going to be doing for the community because as a person that just happens to be trans, it takes a lot of courage,” Gonzales-Wolfe said in her first public speech.
A veteran of more than two decades helping others win elections, she got her start in the 1992 presidential race campaigning for Bill Clinton and Al Gore. She’s also stumped for former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and his brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, state senators Leticia Van de Putte and Wendy Davis, and presidential contender Hillary Clinton.
Off the campaign trail, Gonzales-Wolfe has a background in the financial-services industry and executive coaching.
She most recently managed the election bid of Bexar County Democratic Party Chairwoman Monica Ramirez Alcantara.
Winning the District 8 seat would be an honor, she added.
“I want to represent everybody fairly, equally and justly and with transparency,” Gonzales-Wolfe said.
Her key issues include property taxes, infrastructure, and San Antonio Water System and CPS Energy rates.
Gonzales-Wolfe grew up on the South Side but has lived in the district eight years. She is married to a 21-year Air Force veteran.