Texas Public Radio's signature talk show "The Source" hosted San Antonio mayoral candidates Ron Nirenberg and Greg Brockhouse for a live forum Monday. What are their visions for San Antonio? Where do they stand on critical policies? What can we learn from their records?
Highlights from the debate
The candidates discussed major issues facing the city, including the city contract with the fire union and the local response to climate change.
Nirenberg and Brockhouse also discussed local control, or how much control San Antonio has over issues regardless of state legislation.
For example, the city’s paid sick leave ordinance could be voided because of legislation that would ban it. The city is also watching potential bills on property tax revenue caps.
A listener posed the question: “What have you done or will do for our city at the state and national level to balance state and national control vs. local control?”
Nirenberg said the city’s ability to govern itself has been under attack throughout the last few sessions of the Texas Legislature. But he said it is important to work with legislators.
“We want to achieve collaborative solutions wherever possible but we have a strong legislative action agenda that is constantly examined at the intergovernmental relations effort.”
Brockhouse said the city is sending a mixed message.
“It’s hard when we enact policies that we expect Austin to fix and then turn around and get mad at them when they do something we’re not happy with, so we have to take and work our legislative agendas so that it mirrors the policies that were trying to affect here in the city of San Antonio.”
Moderator and “Source” host David Martin Davies asked Brockhouse about his relationship with the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, which is negotiating its contract with the city.
Brockhouse said it's a positive relationship.
“Before I ran for public office in 2016, I was the consultant for the San Antonio Police Officers Association, and I did different campaigns for the firefighters. I relinquished those contracts in November of 2016 prior to even starting my political campaign; first and foremost, I didn’t want that to be a part of any ethics and issues that appeared to be inappropriate.”
Both police and fire union leadership have criticized Nirenberg’s leadership. Davies asked him to describe his relationship with the union if he was re-elected.
“We have to make sure we have a proper relationship, though, and that the lines aren’t blurred. You cannot work for the union and also work for the taxpayers. So what I plan to do is ensure we are being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars and that when the union tries to leverage political authority, which they are trying in this case, that we ensure that we are always answering to the taxpayer.”
Early voting for the mayoral and city council races begins on Monday.