Home Government New San Antonio council members look ahead; progressives hail victories

New San Antonio council members look ahead; progressives hail victories

Newly seated San Antonio District 1 City Councilman Mario Bravo speaks shortly after taking his seat at the council dais during his first council meeting June 15 at City Hall. Courtesy photo/City of San Antonio

Three new members have joined the City Council, including two who ousted incumbents in the June 5 election runoff.

The winners include an openly gay man and a veteran community activist.

Analysts say the new lineup has created the most progressive council in memory; others say they’re cautiously watching to see what effect — if any — more left-of-center viewpoints will have on city affairs.

Mario Bravo, a project manager with the Environmental Defense Fund, toppled District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño, an architect who had represented the city’s centermost district since 2014.

Receiving 53% of the vote, Bravo’s campaign argued that Treviño had failed to help vulnerable residents with increasing property-tax burdens.

Bravo also had described Treviño as too cozy with developers, and criticized the incumbent for some of his responses to homelessness, which become an especially contentious matter in the Dellview neighborhood, where the District 1 field office directly served unsheltered people in recent months.

Bravo took to Facebook to thank his campaign staff and supporters.

“This is a win for all of us and I am looking forward to serving you. We can accomplish anything as long as we work together,” Bravo said.

“You have elected me as your councilman, but I humbly remain Mario Bravo, your neighbor, friend and public servant. I’m excited for the days to come when we can roll up our sleeves and get to work.”

Treviño said he was proud of his council record, which included introducing the Under 1 Roof program, which helps low-income homeowners replace their roofs with energy-efficient material.

Treviño also said the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing challenges, such as housing, job and food insecurity, health disparities and digital access.

In recent months, he pushed the city to increase direct aid to renters struggling with rent, groceries and utilities. He also asked the city to assist hospitality workers and artists who’ve financially struggled during the pandemic.

“To the neighborhoods of District 1, thank you,” Treviño said. “Thank you for welcoming me into your homes; for including me in your celebrations and allowing me to be there for you in your times of struggle.”

In District 2, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez tallied 63% of the vote and unseated first-term District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan, for whom he served as a council aide.

McKee-Rodriguez, 26, is said to be the youngest San Antonio council member, and the first openly gay man elected to a seat on the City Hall dais.

Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, seen here with Austin City Councilman Gregorio Casar, won the San Antonio District 1 City Council election runoff on June 5. Courtesy photo/Jalen McKee-Rodriguez

On the campaign trail, McKee-Rodriguez dinged Andrews-Sullivan for a perceived lack of engagement with her constituents, and for what he termed as inaction on issues such as gentrification, public safety, police accountability and homelessness.

During the campaign, his sexual orientation became a topic of controversy, including among some East Side religious leaders, according to reports.

McKee-Rodriguez promised to stabilize District 2’s representation at City Hall.

“Thank you to my wonderful and supportive husband and family, the amazing team that had my back every step of the way, every friend who supported me, and every voter who placed their trust in me,” McKee-Rodriguez said.

Teacher/community organizer Teri Castillo claimed 57% en route to a District 5 runoff win against Rudy Lopez, a retired city employee. She succeeds Shirley Gonzales, who was prevented by term limits from seeking another two years in office.

Castillo pledged to focus on affordable housing, fighting gentrification, reforming public safety practices, and improving public health, transportation and roads.

Educator and community organizer Teri Castillo (right), seen here with Texas Organizing Project organizer Sofia Sepulveda, won the San Antonio District 5 City Council election runoff on June 5. Courtesy photo/Teri Castillo

Her grassroots progressive campaign received support from the likes of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and from Julian Castro, a former mayor and secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama.

Some detractors labeled Castillo as anti-police and a Marxist.

“To everyone who supported our movement, I thank you. It is because of you that we were able to secure our victory,” Castillo said.

She added, “It is because of you that we are so much closer to realizing our vision of a local government that works for us, that puts the needs of the people before all else. It is a vision of a government that is not just possible, but necessary and long overdue.”



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