Greg Brockhouse has emerged as the main challenger to Mayor Ron Nirenberg in the 2019 municipal elections. The District 6 councilman is attempting to unseat an incumbent mayor, and he's gambling his political career on this fight.
When Greg Brockhouse looks at downtown San Antonio, he only sees a bubble.
“I think it's fake,” he said. "People lose track of their priorities when they're downtown, and it's cool. You get ... a business card, title and an office, and everybody kind of caters to you.”
He said he spends very little time there.
“I think that's why politicians, the longer they’re in office, [they] get more and more insulated from what really matters in the community,” he said.
Brockhouse said the city needs re-focus on the neighborhoods instead of the downtown core.
“The whole machine ride is built on this user interface where the resident has to come to the city. We have to get them. I think we take it on the road, and we go back out,” he said.
He believes he would bring what he called a “San Antonio First” or “Neighborhood First” mentality to the table.
“It's hard to quantify any one thing because it's a little bit different for everybody but you know it could be something as simple as we hold council meetings -- we'll do council meetings in the districts. We’ll do B-sessions in every council district. We’ll hold the council meetings out at Hardberger Park or the Lopez Center,” he said. “We've got to understand each other as a team.”
Brockhouse said nothing is more important than understanding what the neighborhoods are and understand their struggles.
“Not just this hypersensitive focus on downtown and all our incentives and dollars and growth and all this stuff that's been the last 10 years of city policy," he said. "I think it's really lost track of the things that matter most to residents.”
He’s optimistic about his chances for victory in this mayoral race. “I think the common consensus out there right now is I can win this thing.”
Brockhouse said the recent debates boosted his confidence.
“I think the debates were a real game-changer for us when I got the chance to stand side-by-side by Ron. I think we maybe debated seven times or something like that. ...I feel confident we walked out the winner every one of them,” he added.
Brockhouse was born in Illinois but grew up in the Alamo City. He’s 46.
“I've grown up my entire life in San Antonio between Mission Road in the Harlandale area up to John Jay High School and Valley High,” he said.
He served in the Air Force for ten years. He graduated from what is now Texas State University. He worked as a mortgage lender, and he also worked in two city council offices, including for Councilman Rey Saldana in 2011.
Brockhouse started a consulting business and contracted with the San Antonio Police Officers Association and San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association.
When he first ran for the District 6 seat, he wanted their endorsement.
“They didn't endorse me. That's a very important note for the record. They did not endorse me … neither the police nor the fire but we did hit it off,” he said.
Brockhouse lost the race but emerged with a new relationship with the unions.
“I offered them some ideas as a consultant. I said, ‘Hey look, there's things you could be doing differently. From a marketing perspective, from a political perspective, and City Hall.’ That's how the relationship was built,” he said.
Brockhouse said the police union had him on retainer for a few years. But not the fire union.
“I'd never have been on retainer with the firefighters. I mean, I've done a spot project for them, like I've ran the streetcar campaign. The anti-streetcar [campaign]. So I did that for them [from 2014 to 2015],” Brockhouse said.
Nirenberg pointed to those ties and accused Brockhouse of being in the pockets of the union.
“Ron is using a convenient talking point, and ...everybody knows I have great respect for police officers and firefighters, and [I am] the number-one advocate for them on the council. I did. I embraced it. I don't run from that relationship,” he said.
Brockhouse won the District 6 seat in 2017. Fast forward to 2018, and Councilman Brockhouse was the strongest supporter of the ABC propositions introduced by the fire union. Two passed, marking a defining moment between the City and the union as they negotiate a contract.
Both unions now support Brockhouse in his mayoral campaign.
Brockhouse is married to Annalisa Brockhouse, his third and current wife. They have five children.
In March, Brockhouse faced two allegations of domestic violence. One from 2006 involved his second wife but Brockhouse has said he was the complainant in that incident.
The second incident was from 2009 and involved Annalisa. The San Antonio Express-News initially reported the allegations. Brockhouse admitted the first incident. He denied the second incident ever happened.
“I don't think there's any more to be said about it. I'm not really going to discuss that any further. My wife’s vehemently denied it. She’s issued a statement to that effect. I deny it.” he added.
In this mayoral race, Brockhouse said he’s okay whether he wins or not.
“I've lost and I've won as a candidate. I can tell you 100 percent unequivocally, no bull----,” he said. “I'm happy either way. I don't care if I win or lose, ultimately, because I've run exactly the campaign I needed to run. I've done everything I could do with what I had.”
He said he’s ready to either become mayor or return to private life.