Erika Moe (left) addresses a San Antonio mayoral and City Council District 9 candidate forum held April 8 at Vogt Auction Galleries. Moe and Patrick Von Dohlen (center) are challenging incumbent Councilman John Courage (right). The Greater Harmony Hills Neighborhood Association presented the forum. Photo courtesy/Erika Moe

Nearly 30 San Antonians are running either for mayor or three North Side City Council seats in the May 1 election.

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.

Ron Nirenberg (left) and Greg Brockhouse

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, is focusing on job creation and 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 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.

Councilman Manny Peláez’s bid for a third term in District 8 drew opposition from audio/visual technician Cesario Garcia, real estate broker Rob Rodriguez, Valero Energy Corp. pricing specialist Suzanne McCarty and registered nurse Tammy K. Orta.

Councilman Manny Pelaez

Peláez is campaigning for more pandemic-recovery relief, modernizing infrastructure and expanding green spaces.

“We’ve been through a lot in our city over the past year and it’s time to focus on recovery efforts and look ahead to a more resilient future,” he said.

Rodriguez chaired the city’s Planning Commission, and served on other city panels, plus real estate industry and civic group boards.

“San Antonio is facing some trying times, and I feel that elected office is where I can best utilize my experience in job creation, public service and leadership,” he said.

Rob Rodriguez

Two-term District 9 Councilman John Courage has three foes: college student Antonio Salinas, attorney Erika Moe, and Patrick Von Dohlen, a financial planner and previous candidate.

Cory Dennington left the race.

An Air Force veteran, former teacher, and real estate broker, Courage backs bringing more employers to District 9, improving Sonterra Boulevard at Loop 1604, and overseeing development of 2022 bond proposals.

“While we have accomplished so much, there is still much work to be done,” he said.

Salinas, Moe and Von Dohlen all support fiscal conservatism at City Hall. The latter pair also advocates strengthening first responders.

“I will fight to ensure we balance our budget and make efficient use of our available resources to lower taxes while doing better for San Antonio residents,” Moe said.

Von Dohlen’s campaign is focused on maintaining basic city services, accountability and transparency at City Hall, strengthening police and other first responders, and furthering a business-friendly climate. He also opposes both city charter amendments.

“I will bring real solutions to District 9 residents, not a political agenda,” he said.

Army Reserve officer Gabrien Gregory, Administrative Law Judge Ezra Johnson, grassroots activist Emily Norwood, and educator Alexander Svehla oppose District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry’s shot at a third term.

Clayton Perry

Perry, who beat Johnson in a 2017 runoff, vows to maintain a focus on getting more pandemic- recovery monies to small businesses, property-tax relief, and ensuring basic city services are adequately funded.

“I will always ask you what you need, rather than tell you what I think you need,” he said.

A Churchill High School alumni and Encino Park-area resident, Svehla also is a social worker and children’s advocate.

His priorities include further pandemic recovery for residents and businesses, property-tax relief, and mental-health professionals helping police respond to people in crisis.

Alex Svehla

“I believe that I will represent the values, goals, ideals and desires of District 10 better than any candidate,” Svehla said.

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,” she stated. 

San Antonio Police Officers Association President Danny Diaz said losing collective bargaining rights could hurt the Police Department’s pay and benefits package, and risks 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 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.

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. Locations include Cody Branch Library, 11441 Vance Jackson Road; Encino Branch Library, 2515 E. Evans Road; Parman Branch Library, 20735 Wilderness Oak Road; Castle Hills City Hall, 209 Lemonwood Drive; and Shavano Park City Hall, 900 Saddletree Court.

eortiz@localcommunitynews.com

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