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San Antonio City Council District 8 Race 2021

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Note: Names are listed in order of appearance on the ballot according to the city clerks' office. Answers from candidates have not been edited or fact-checked.

For TPR's full Voter Guide, click here.


Suzanne McCarty

Did not respond.*


Manny Pelaez

Q: What is your experience with city government? For instance, have you ever served on a city board or commission?

A: CITY COUNCILMAN. DISTRICT 8 (SINCE 2017) VIA METROPOLITAN TRANSIT - TRUSTEE BROOKS CITY BASE - CHAIRMAN ADVANCED TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT - TRUSTEE METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATION (MPO) - BOARD MEMBER ALAMO AREA COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS - BOARD MEMBER SAN ANTONIO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION - BOARD MEMBER SAWS RATE ADVISORY COMMISSION - BOARD MEMBER LIBRARY DISTRICT COMMISSION - BOARD MEMBER

Q: What is an issue relevant to your specific district that you would like to change or address?

A: RESILIENCE AND PREPAREDNESS: The pandemic and the related economic crisis have revealed that we are a city that is not as resilient as we’ve always believed. The sudden polar freeze proved exactly how precarious it can get for all of us when interdependent systems are interrupted -- resulting in cascading failures of services that all of us take for granted. After what we’ve all experienced, it is right to ask: Are we ready? Are we truly prepared to withstand the next Hurricane Harvey? Or a mass flooding event? An extreme polar vortex? How about a mass shooting like the one in Las Vegas, or a large cyber attack? My neighborhoods expect that, above all else, their local government to be sufficiently prepared to withstand challenges like these. This means that we must continue to adequately fund our police and fire departments. We must continue to invest in stormwater infrastructure and predictive flood modeling. We must ensure that all of SAWS’ essential equipment and facilities are winterized and that CPS Energy never again be in a position of having to buy gas from the wildly expensive spot market. We must also continue to invest in homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, trauma care capacity at our hospitals, and emergency equipment like ambulances and better rescue equipment.

Q: If you are the incumbent, what are you most proud of during your time in office so far?

A: DAN MARKSON PARK: Dan Markson was a San Antonio philanthropist dedicated to inclusivity and offering vulnerable people access to essential services and fair housing. After he passed away, I immediately began work on creating a new community park that would serve disabled children and their families. That park is finally open and I’m so excited to see families enjoying it every day of the week. My goal is that this park will serve as a benchmark for how we design all future parks - - with an eye towards more accessibility for patrons of all needs and abilities. I think Dan would be pleased to know that we’re honoring his legacy by way of beautiful parks.

Q: Voters will decide on Proposition B this May — a potential repeal of collective bargaining rights for the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Do you support repealing collective bargaining or do you believe it should remain in place?

A: I support safer neighborhoods. I support shorter 911 response times. I support offering our first responders an excellent compensation package. Proposition B does not lead to safer neighborhoods or shorter response times. I believe Prop B will make it less likely that first responders will receive excellent compensation. I believe Prop B will lead to an exodus of police officers who will not work for San Antonio if their bargaining rights are stripped from them. For these reasons, I oppose Prop B.

Q: Many residents have called for significant discipline reform for San Antonio Police officers in contract negotiations which are being debated right now between the city and the police union. What changes or reform — if any — would you like to see?

A: I’m a labor and employment attorney and arbitrator. That experience informs my belief that the dispute resolution process (i.e. arbitration) as set out in the police union’s collective bargaining agreement needs to be more trustworthy, transparent, and predictable. The majority for San Antonians agree that officers who are caught lying, stealing, cheating, or breaking the law should not wear an SAPD badge. Similarly, the majority of police officers agree with this sentiment - - they don’t want to serve alongside other officers that can’t be trusted. The union and the city negotiators must work towards a contract that is in keeping with our values of fair play and due process for all involved. I think we’re on the right track.

Q: Voters passed the Ready to Work SA initiative in November which creates funding for job training and support services like childcare for people to seek new trades — especially for those who lost their job in the pandemic — using a sales tax for the next five years. Do you feel this was the right approach to addressing not only job losses but to also grow the talent pool for industries in San Antonio?

A: I do. But, whether this program needs to exist or not is a moot discussion. The voters approved it and it is my obligation to carry out the voters’ wishes. I interpret the voters’ approval of Ready to Work SA as a mandate to the City Council to aggressively get San Antonians back to work in jobs that will pay competitive wages. My priority is to ensure that our partners at ACCD, UTSA, Quest, and Texas A&M offer the best training available so that our upskilled workers can compete against the skilled workers in other markets. A skilled workforce is how we will b

Q: What changes — if any — do you feel are needed at CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System following the winter storm?

A: 1) Our utilities must invest in hardening and upgrading its existing systems so that those systems are capable of withstanding future mega-storms. Catastrophic weather events are the new “normal” and we can no longer approach them as unforeseeable or unavoidable. 2) Our utilities board of directors must include subject matter experts in disaster preparedness, systems adaptation, crisis management, and innovation. CPS Energy’s board of directors should be expanded to include experts such as these. 3) The Presidents of SAWS and CPS must provide the rate payers annual resiliency and preparedness reports. Those reports must outline the extent to which SAWS and CPS have invested in systems hardening and emergency preparedness. They must demonstrate how the safety and preparedness protocols are in keeping with best-in-industry standards. And, they must collaborate with utilities in other cities and other countries to learn those best-practices and train their staff accordingly.

Q: What is one policy or priority that you would introduce as a council consideration request that has not already been submitted or considered?

A: We know that government regulation results in approximately $24,000 of added cost (not added value) to each new single-family home constructed in San Antonio. Those costs are passed on to homeowners and make it more expensive to own a home in our City. I would create a mandatory review process whereby all building-related municipal regulations which create costs for home builders undergo an examination for continued need, efficiency opportunities, and cost reductions. The goal would be to make new construction more affordable. We will never solve our housing disparity crisis if City Council doesn't accept ownership of the problem by finding ways to unburden families of unnecessary costs.


Cesario Garcia

Q: What is your experience with city government? For instance, have you ever served on a city board or commission?

A: That it only serves special interest on common interest. I have never served in city GOV.

Q: What is an issue relevant to your specific district that you would like to change or address?

A: Safety and response time from our Police department.

Q: If you are challenging an incumbent, why do you feel there needs to be a change in leadership and why are you the right person for that change?

A: After 24 years nothing has been solved. Property taxes, safety. I am for common interest not special interest.

Q: Voters will decide on Proposition B this May — a potential repeal of collective bargaining rights for the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Do you support repealing collective bargaining or do you believe it should remain in place?

A: No. It should not.

Q: Many residents have called for significant discipline reform for San Antonio Police officers in contract negotiations which are being debated right now between the city and the police union. What changes or reform — if any — would you like to see?

A: None. Our police officers need support.

Q: Voters passed the Ready to Work SA initiative in November which creates funding for job training and support services like childcare for people to seek new trades — especially for those who lost their job in the pandemic — using a sales tax for the next five years. Do you feel this was the right approach to addressing not only job losses but to also grow the talent pool for industries in San Antonio?

A: It remains to be seen. Actions speak louder than words. More action less talk.

Q: What changes — if any — do you feel are needed at CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System following the winter storm?

A: Every executive salary needs to be cut by 50%. Enough with the blame game.

Q: What is one policy or priority that you would introduce as a council consideration request that has not already been submitted or considered?

A: Repeal every useless city ordinances. Open the books and let that information become public.


Rob Rodriguez

Q: What is your experience with city government? For instance, have you ever served on a city board or commission?

A: Chairman of San Antonio Planning Commission, Small Business Advocacy Committee, Goal Setting Committee, Visitor and Convention Commission, Mayor's Small Business Tax Force, Storm Water & Drainage Committee, SAWS Citizen Conservation Committee

Q: What is an issue relevant to your specific district that you would like to change or address?

A: Housing Affordability as they pertain to property taxes, Equal access to SA Ready To Work funds and other federal relief dollars.

Q: If you are challenging an incumbent, why do you feel there needs to be a change in leadership and why are you the right person for that change?

A: I feel that the incumbent's priorities and actions are not aligned with the district and he continually supports policies that harm the district and small businesses. I think when I am elected, the council will gain the added perspective of an entrepreneur/small businessman and one who wants to prioritizing the delivery of basic city services.

Q: Voters will decide on Proposition B this May — a potential repeal of collective bargaining rights for the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Do you support repealing collective bargaining or do you believe it should remain in place?

A: No-I am against the repeal of the Collective Bargaining Rights.

Q: Many residents have called for significant discipline reform for San Antonio Police officers in contract negotiations which are being debated right now between the city and the police union. What changes or reform — if any — would you like to see?

A: I would raise the admission standards of new police cadets in the Police Academy. I would like to encourage SAPD to perform written, quarterly counseling reports on all policemen by their supervisors. In addition, I would encourage the SAPD to institute a written performance fitness evaluation that ranks all officers among their peers. The purpose of these would be to identify low performing officers for additional training or high performing officers for promotion. This would also give arbitrators objective written documentation of an officer to review in determining disciplinary action on officers that are under review.

Q: Voters passed the Ready to Work SA initiative in November which creates funding for job training and support services like childcare for people to seek new trades — especially for those who lost their job in the pandemic — using a sales tax for the next five years. Do you feel this was the right approach to addressing not only job losses but to also grow the talent pool for industries in San Antonio?

A: No-I do not feel this is the right approach because the affects are not immediate, the long term effects will be difficult to measure, and it represents an expansion of our local city services. In addition, that shift of the sales tax from the Edwards Aquifer Protection Plan and the Linear Creekways has left the funding for those programs uncertain. These programs were very popular in District 8.

Q: What changes — if any — do you feel are needed at CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System following the winter storm?

A: We should examine the soon-to-be-published report by Committee on Emergency Preparedness. We need to enhance our energy resilience by promoting a balanced energy portfolio that incorporated more reliable energy sources. We need to make investments in winterization. We should re-examine/audit large investments we have made at CPS and SAWS to ensure that we are spending tax dollars efficiently and effectively.

Q: What is one policy or priority that you would introduce as a council consideration request that has not already been submitted or considered?

A: My priority to introduce as a council consideration would be to increase the Homestead Tax Exemption to the maximum allowed by the state. Texas allows for a 20% Homestead Tax Exemption-Ft Worth, Dallas and Houston are at 20%. San Antonio's rate is at the lowest allowed by law.


Tammy K. Orta

Could not find contact information.


* denotes candidates who did not respond to survey requests sent via email and/or phone calls by time of publication.

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