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With Only 7 Percent Voter Turnout In May Election, City Policies Roll On

Chris Eudaily

Voters cast their ballots over the weekend and now that the city elections are over - except for two June runoffs in Districts 5 and 8 - the direction of policies in San Antonio will largely continue uninterrupted.

This is mostly to do with the fact that voters chose candidates like Mayor Julián Castro, District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal and District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña, who all support progressive issues.

Dr. Henry Flores, a political science professor at St. Mary's University, said at its core, city council is supposed to be a non-partisan body, free of liberal or conservative views.

In general terms, Flores said the council does 'look' like the city of San Antonio.

"Traditionally, we've had about 6 percent Black/African American population, we have one council member who's African American, and pretty close to 65 percent - 70 percent of the city is Latino and the council looks like that."

But what about how the council votes?

It's up to members to decide on a variety of issues, including a $2 billion city budget every year that funds street repairs, libraries, and parks.

"You can't look at the public services as a liberal or conservative thing. You look at it as a quality of life, service to the community sort of issue," said Flores.

But that's not how George Rodriguez, president of the conservative South Texas Alliance for Progress, sees things.

Rodriguez said it seems that the council conceals the public process on issues he passionately opposes, like streetcars, and he wants to see more council members speaking up for conserving taxpayer money.

"We have a Castro liberal machine that's running things and over the past two years, they've shown a very lack of willingness to listen to the community on various issues," Rodriguez said.

Flores said if people see things the way Rodriguez does, they could try to get one of their own elected.

But the power is in the hands of the people, even if only 7 percent came out to vote in this election.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.