Voters living in and around downtown will decide multiple May 1 city council and school board contests.
Two-term Mayor Ron Nirenberg and former District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse, whom Nirenberg beat in a 2019 runoff election, headline a 14-candidate mayoral contest.
Nirenberg’s priorities include affordable housing and workforce development, plus ensuring the community’s COVID-19 response and recovery is equitable.
“As national leaders call for unity, in San Antonio we’re looking out for one another, lifting each other up, and working together to come back stronger than ever,” he said.
Brockhouse, a mortgage banker and former council aide, is focusing on job creation, post- pandemic economic recovery, plus strengthening police and other first responders.
“We’re bringing new energy, bold ideas and real urgency to make San Antonio the jobs capital of Texas for all of our families,” he said.
Other mayoral hopefuls are Gary Allen, Tim Atwood, Ray Basaldua, Antonio “Tony” Diaz, Joshua James Galvan, Denise Gutierrez-Homer, Michael “Commander” Idrogo, Justin Macaluso, Dan Martinez, Jacq’ue Laurel “J.” Miller, Frank Adam Muniz and John Velasquez.
A previous council District 2 candidate, Gutierrez-Homer describe herself a conservative businesswoman for whom pandemic recovery, economic development, responsible growth management, a strong police force, and improving digital connectivity are priorities.
Five opponents are challenging District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño including Mario Bravo, an Environmental Defense Fund project manager.
Bravo’s priorities are improving public health and safety, and post- pandemic economic development: “We need to recover equitably, ensuring that the unemployed and underemployed in our city are our No. 1 focus.”
Seeking a fourth full term, Treviño wants to concentrate on expanding pandemic relief for homeowners, renters and food-and-beverage industry workers.
“We will continue to produce and implement plans instead of making empty promises,” he said.
Others running are Lauro A. Bustamante, Cyndi Dominguez, Matthew J. Gauna and Raymond Zavala.
Local Community News partnered with NOWCastSA to present a virtual forum with 10 of the 12 City Council District 2 candidates.
Those contestants are first-term Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan: tax preparers Dori Brown and Walter Perry Sr.; teacher and Andrews-Sullivan’s former aide Jalen McKee-Rodriguez; teacher Norris Darden; entrepreneurs Kristi Villanueva, Chris Dawkins and Nneka Cleaver; chef/caretaker and Black Lives Matter organizer Pharaoh Clark; Army retiree Andrew Vicencio; publisher Carl Booker; and construction/logistics worker Michael John Good.
Click here to read Local’s recap of the District 2 forum.
Eleven residents vie to succeed District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, including real estate agent and Lone Star resident Marie Crabb. Gonzales cannot run again due to term limits.
Crabb supports affordable housing, infrastructure improvements, reducing recidivism in crime-control efforts, and more collaboration among area colleges, schools, businesses and nonprofits.
“We should be training our future leaders,” she said.
Other candidates include: Jesse “Jay” Alaniz, Irma G. Barron, Teri Castillo, Ray Garza, Anthony Gres, Norberto “Geremy” Landin, Rudy Lopez, Jason Mata, Ricardo Moreno and David Yañez.
Army Reserve officer Gabrien Gregory, Administrative Law Judge Ezra Johnson, grassroots activist Emily Norwood, and educator Alex Svehla oppose District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry’s third-term bid. Perry beat Johnson in the 2017 runoff election.
San Antonio is also proposing two City Charter amendments. One -Proposition B – would repeal police officers’ collective bargaining rights, a goal for policing reformers.
Chapter 174 of state law allows cities the option to negotiate with unions through collective bargaining.
Prop B approval means San Antonio, presently the lone largest Texas city that uses Chapter 174, could move to a meet-and-confer system where contract negotiation is rendered optional for the city.
Resident Marie Naranjo helped the group Fix SAPD to collect the required 20,000-plus signatures to place collective bargaining on the ballot.
Advocates of Prop B say collective bargaining enables the police union and the department to protect officers accused of or investigated for misconduct.
“This is about all of us focusing on focusing on safety and accountability for our officers, but also for our community and the best possible future for San Antonio,” Naranjo stated.
San Antonio Police Officers Association President Danny Diaz said losing collective bargaining rights could hurt the Police Department’s pay and benefits packages, and risk cutting morale among personnel.
Diaz also said collective bargaining is important for “recruiting top-notch police officers who will keep our neighborhoods safe and to ensuring the police chief and the city continue to have flexibility in hiring, promotions, discipline, and boosting diversity within the department.”
The second charter proposal would let the city issue bonds for permanent public improvements, such as developing affordable housing, or others not prohibited by the Texas Constitution.
Councilwoman Ana Sandoval acknowledged her colleagues’ desire to see more specificity in the ballot proposal language. But she also expressed interest in giving the city more flexibility to address affordable housing issues.
“I know that this was one of the tremendous limitations, so I fully support us exploring this,” she added.
Councilman Perry criticized the proposal, saying it could siphon funding from core responsibilities, such as road upkeep.
“Ultimately, we must make sure that we do not limit the funding capabilities of our already failing infrastructure,” Perry said.
Either attorney Kristyl Smith or Emmy Rogers Ballantyne, daughter-in-law of former Mayor Anne Ballantyne, will replace outgoing Place 3 Councilman William Ochse III.
Having managed San Antonio’s Edwards Aquifer protection program, Smith said a city government must chiefly reach out to all community members, listen to their priorities and concerns, and advocate on their behalf.
“My greatest skill is being able to truly understand the multiple motivations behind any apparent conflict, and find clever solutions,” she added.
Meanwhile, Ballantyne pledged to help maintain a close-knit community, be approachable for all constituents, and act as a good steward of city resources.
A nearly lifelong Terrell Hills resident, Ballantyne has served on the city’s parks committee and Board of Adjustment.
“I was able to gain valuable experience and develop relationships with our great team at City Hall,” she added.
Place 4 Councilman Peter Mako is unopposed.
ALAMO HEIGHTS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT
San Antonians Clay Page and Elissa Sangster aim to succeed outgoing Place 5 trustee Bonnie Giddens.
A parent and general contractor, Page is campaigning for fiscal responsibility, extracurricular activities to enhance all children’s abilities outside the classroom, and helping students cope with “the silent epidemic of stress-related illnesses and the constant pressure of being on top.” Sangster, a nonprofit leader
and veteran PTO member, wants to help maintain educational excellence, attract and retain top educators, and keep setting high achievement standards.
She also backs AHISD’s Profile of a Learner and community- based accountability to further reflect “on how we collect input from our stakeholders and track the signals where additional support is required.”
San Antonian Carey Watson Hildebrand and Alamo Heights’ Travis Wiltshire vie to succeed Place 7 trustee Perry Shankle, who isn’t running again.
An AHISD parent/volunteer and substitute teacher, Hildebrand previously lived in Wyoming, working in its educational system.
Her priorities are fiscal responsibility, listening to all constituents, and educating “the child as a whole with a focus on academics and good citizenship.”
Principal/owner of CNG Engineering, Wiltshire is an AHISD parent/volunteer who has served with business groups and mentorship programs.
Wiltshire supports fiscal responsibility, ensuring student and teacher safety, and fully equipping all learners for educational and professional success.
“I believe my diverse background and experiences along with my business knowledge and engineering mindset would provide a valuable new perspective to the board,” he said.
Place 6 trustee Lisa Krenger is unopposed.
SAN ANTONIO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT
Lavaca resident and COVID-19 case investigator Sarah Sorensen faces District 1 trustee Steve Lecholop, an attorney and King William resident pursuing reelection.
Sorensen, an SAISD parent/volunteer and Lavaca Neighborhood Association leader, supports students, employees, families and community members having more weight in district decisions.
She also backs community schools with wraparound services, and “prioritizing curriculum and strategies that are culturally relevant, culturally sustaining and anti-racist, and reduce the use of standardized testing and computer-based assessments.”
An SAISD parent and former teacher, Lecholop said SAISD must make “student-centered, transparent decisions that will improve academic outcomes for kids.”
Though Olmos Park and Alamo Heights lack contested races, residents in the latter are asked to reauthorize a sales tax to fund road maintenance.
Early voting is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 19-23 and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 24 and 26-27. Area locations include Lions Field, 2809 Broadway; San Antonio College Victory Center, 1802 N. Main Ave.; Tobin Library at Oakwell, 4134 Harry Wurzbach Road; and the county elections office, 1103 S. Frio St.