Women Run Away With San Antonio City Council Seats
Ron Nirenberg returned to a familiar mayoral seat on Saturday. But he will sit alongside three new council members – all women. Jada Andrews-Sullivan will represent District 2, Adriana Rocha Garcia will represent District 4 and Melissa Cabello Havrda will represent District 6. Together, they form the first female majority on the council in a decade.
When early voting numbers for District 2 were released, Andrews-Sullivan and Keith Toney faced a long night. Only 99 votes separated them.
But she ended the night ahead, and her supporters erupted when the tight race was called in her favor. Andrews-Sullivan beat Toney by fewer than 300 votes.
District 2 has had five different representatives in five years. Andrews-Sullivan said it needs consistency now, and she promised she would be in it for the long haul.
"First priority is making sure our community knows that they have a council person that's going to speak up, step up, square up, and make things happen for them," she said. "And we're going to get what we need in our district because that's just what we do."
Andrews-Sullivan said her leading issues included infrastructure, public safety and economic development.
"Top priority is definitely ensuring that our legacy homeowners continue to have a place to call home, and that is for sure, and along with that making sure that the crime is actually handled," she said. "We have to step out into the streets, and we have to take our community back."
As campaign workers in most of Saturday's races nervously watched the vote numbers change, by early Saturday evening, one city council race was clearly decided. District 4 candidate Adriana Rocha Garcia scored a decisive win over Johnny Arrendondo.
Outgoing District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña, who was term-limited, introduced Garcia to the cheering watch-party crowd.
“The first female elected to City Council District 4," he announced, "and your new councilwoman: Dr. Adriana Rocha Garcia!”
Garcia said Saldaña did a great job advocating for southwest San Antonio. She planned to keep that momentum going.
“Being [a] cheerleader for the district, reminding them, continuing that and saying, ‘Hey, we’re here. District 4 is available for you to come – have fun. There’s restaurants, entertainment options and, hey, guess what, there’s a lot of land,' ” she said.
Garcia is a marketing professor at Our Lady of the Lake University.
She said her top priority would be advocating for responsible development in the area.
“We have a lot of neighborhoods that would get left behind if we don’t pay attention to them," she said, "and I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want any displacement to happen.”
District 6 candidates Melissa Cabello Havrda and Andy Greene also began the night with a tight race, with only about a thousand votes apart. But by 9 p.m., Havrda had locked up her victory.
“I firmly believe that knocking on doors and getting to people at their homes is the way that you can get elected," she said at her watch party. "Really listening to people in their homes and neighborhoods to find out what they need.”
Havrda said she had a couple of things going for her on election night.
“I ran two years ago, so I had some name I.D.," she said. "I’m born and raised in this district, so I had people coming up to me – you know, we went to kindergarten together, or I was friends with their kid.”
Havrda said property tax relief, relieving traffic congestion and supporting small business would be her top priorities once she takes office.
Havrda and Greene were vying to succeed Greg Brockhouse, who challenged Nirenberg's re-election but failed.
Bonnie Petrie can be reached at Bonnie@TPR.org and on Twitter at @kbonniepetrie.
Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@TPR.org and on Twitter at @cmpcamille.
Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.
Fernando Ortiz Jr. contributed to this report.