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Though Endorsements Are Nice, Voter Turnout Is Key To Runoff Election

Endorsements are often times influential by appealing to voters who may be undecided, and with the runoff elections for City Council Districts 5 and 8 in June, every vote will help determine who will win the seats.

This year's city council races began with nearly 40 candidates and now only four remain.

  • In District 5, incumbent David Medina is facing political newcomer Shirley Gonzales.
  • In District 8, where there is no incumbent, Ron Nirenberg and Rolando Briones are battling it out for the seat.

Plenty of people are choosing sides in these races.
In District 5, former Councilwoman Patti Radle supports Gonzales and Mayor Julián Castro backs Medina. Friday, Gonzales announced her challenger in the May election, Ricardo Briones, will support her, as well.

In District 8, former San Antonio Mayors Phil Hardberger and Bill Thornton are supporting Nirenberg, while Briones has the backing of departing District 8 Councilman Reed Williams and Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff.

Organizations choose sides

The San Antonio chapter of the AFL/CIO, an organization that represents 31 labor unions, isn’t backing either candidate in the District 5 race. President Tom Cummins said there was a mixed bag of feelings about Medina and Gonzales.

"Our various unions were split on their opinions. Some had good working relationships with Councilman Medina," he said. "Others felt a little bit of frustration. Others saw very positive things in the challenger, Shirley Gonzales."

The group is officially supporting Ron Nirenberg in District 8.

The San Antonio Police and Firefighters Associations are split on their endorsements, with the police backing Briones and the firefighters announcing their support for Nirenberg Friday.

Single-issue support

Angela Shields, CEO of the San Antonio Board of Realtors, said their support goes to candidates they feel are in favor of protecting private property rights.

"We have endorsed David Medina as a friendly incumbent to the private property rights," Shields said.

SABOR decided to stay out of District 8, and will not support either candidate.

"Our tendency is to always lean on the side of private property rights. In this particular incident, we just felt that we would rather wait until we had candidates that we knew how they stood with private property rights," she said.

For nonprofits it is a different story.

By law, non-profits are prohibited from endorsing anyone running for office, even though they have a big stake in what happens with city politics and their local communities.

"We have a public purpose here, and so we're going to work with the entire city council and the Mayor on continuing the progress that's going on here in District 5," said Ray Flores, the CEO of the Westside Development Corporation, a non-profit that was founded to promote economic growth in that part of town.

The Northside Chamber of Commerce, along with all other chambers, don't make endorsements, and the same goes for the West Side non-profit, San Anto Cultural Arts.

As each day passes, the campaigns are heating up with announcements of endorsements by big names and some big organizations. But voters will be the ultimate judge as they cast their ballots for the runoff-election candidates. The office seekers hope turnout this time will be better than the 7 percent of registered voters who went to the polls in the May election.

Early voting for the runoff election is June 3-11. Election Day is June 15.

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