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Prop A 'Justice Charter' defeated in landslide in San Antonio’s municipal election

Josh Peck
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Police Officer Association President Danny Diaz speaking at a press conference advocating against Prop A in April.

San Antonio’s Proposition A was rejected by voters in the municipal election on Saturday, with nearly three-quarters of voters casting their ballots against the initiative.

The hotly debated city charter amendment sought to decriminalize abortion and low level marijuana possession, codify and expand cite-and-release, ban no-knock warrants and police chokeholds, and appoint a city justice director to oversee criminal justice-related policies.

Prop A was vocally opposed by the business community, police union, and a majority of city council in the months before the election.

Dave Petersen, the interim president and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, strongly opposed Prop A.

“It was very clear that this would have prohibited the police from being able to continue to ensure that we live in a city that we know and love of San Antonio, and not San Francisco, Portland and other places that have had measures like this that have really just backfired on the community,” Petersen said.

Founder and executive director of ACT 4 SA Ananda Tomas announces the new San Antonio Justice Charter in front of community supporters on the steps of City Hall.
Josh Peck
Ananda Tomas, founder and executive director of ACT 4 SA, announces the new San Antonio Justice Charter.

Opponents like Petersen said the city charter amendment was too broad, would hurt small businesses, and increase crime.

Prop A’s opponents also pointed to comments from the city attorney, who has said most of the proposition violated state law and would have been unenforceable even if it had passed.

Ananda Tomas, executive director of ACT4SA and the lead organizer for Prop A, reflected on what comes next after Prop A’s defeat.

“We’re always going to fight for our communities to have these conversations, to educate them, to fight for their rights,” Tomas said. “So you know, we’re going to take a bit of a break and a rest after a long hard campaign, but we’re going to be back out in the communities talking to them, asking what they want, fighting alongside them.”

Council incumbents Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, Phyllis Viagran, Adriana Rocha Garcia, Teri Castillo, Melissa Cabello Havrda, Manny Peláez, John Courage held on to their seats.

Prop A was placed on the ballot after organizers led by Tomas submitted over 20,000 petition signatures in favor of the ballot initiative in January. It was the first time voters in Texas had the opportunity to vote to decriminalize abortion since Roe v. Wade was overturned last June, which resulted in the collapse of abortion services in Texas.

For Petersen, the major defeat of Prop A indicated that voters were able to look beyond the most popular pieces of the charter amendment.

“We knew that when the community was educated on it, that they would understand that this wasn’t what they may have believed it to be around the decriminalization of marijuana and abortion, but that it really had some very very bad elements of it around not capturing individuals that are committing criminal activity,” he said.

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Josh Peck is the Technology & Entrepreneurship Reporter for Texas Public Radio.