San Antonio City Council District 2 Runoff Election 2021
Note: Names are listed in order of appearance on the ballot according to the city clerks' office. Answers from candidates have not been edited or fact-checked.
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*Denotes that the candidate did not respond to TPR's runoff candidate survey. These are the answers provided to TPR's original survey, which was sent to candidates in April.
**Denotes that the candidate did not respond to either TPR survey.
Did not respond.
Q: What is your current occupation? How long have you worked in this profession?
A: High School Math Teacher, 4 Years
Q: How long have you lived in San Antonio and in your council district?
A: 8 years, 4 years
Q: What experience do you have with the City of San Antonio? Boards, Commissions, Appointments?
A: I am a former Council Aide for City Council District 2 and have served as Director of Communications for the council office. I am a former board member of Stonewall Democrats, and a member of Texas Organizing Project and San Antonio DSA, as well as a former volunteer with City Year at Davis Middle School, Fiesta Youth, and CASA (Child Advocates San Antonio).
Q: Do you have any other government experience? Previous offices held?
Q: Proposition B failed by an incredibly narrow margin. This seems to indicate a large share of voters do want to see change and reform in discipline for police officers. While the city negotiators and the San Antonio Police Officers Association will decide on contract terms, it will be the City Council and union membership that ultimately approves it. Do you believe there needs to be significant change in the San Antonio Police Department? What reforms do you want to see in the next contract?
A: There is significant need for reform in the San Antonio Police Department. The Proposition B results indicated that the communities most impacted by overpolicing are the communities most supportive of increased accountability for police officers. At the City level, we must establish a Department of Criminology that specializes in crime prevention and re-entry programs to make policy and budgeting recommendations. This will not only move these initiatives away from SAPD, but will lead to policy such as Cite & Release, an increased focus on mental health and drug-use, and the implementation of restorative justice practices. This would be a catalyst in the movement toward a more just criminal justice system. Our City Council has a duty to implement stronger demands in the city’s negotiation with SAPOA and advocate for consideration of past police officer transgressions in determining punitive actions against an accused police officer, the removal of overinflated overtime pay that incentivizes officers, and the elimination of the influence of SAPOA in the disciplinary decisions against a police officer. We must also end our participation in the San Antonio has the most crooked and lopsided police union contract in the country. During contract negotiations, we need to eliminate the Evergreen Clause (which allows SAPOA to reject good-faith negotiations and maintain their contract for 8 years), and at least the following 6 of the police union’s contract provisions: 1. Delayed interviews with officers under investigation, 2. Providing evidence to officers under investigation before interview, 3. Limited consideration of officer’s disciplinary history, 4. Limited statute of limitation for officers, 5. Limited civilian oversight, and 6. Providing arbitration against disciplinary action We must also end our participation in the 1033 program, which provides retired military-grade weapons to police officers.
Q: San Antonio has its Emergency Housing Assistance Program. While it has helped 33,000 households with an average of $2,700 each, it has limited funding and after September there is not a dedicated funding source for it. Should this program be continued after the pandemic as a lifeline for struggling residents?
A: This program should absolutely be continued, and we must continue looking for cost-effective means to achieve our housing goals. The effects of the pandemic will last long after the majority of us have been vaccinated, and any solutions and lifelines we've extended will need to take this into account.
Q: With eviction moratoriums ending, there could be a wave of evictions for people who fell behind during the pandemic even with assistance. What do you propose the city could do to get ahead of a potential eviction tsunami?
A: The city must expand its risk mitigation fund. This will allow renters who have fallen behind payments (and may never be able to catch up) an opportunity to start fresh, while ensuring landlords and those relying on rent payments are not left out in the cold. An expanded program will provide rent forgiveness for tenants, and will provide cash and tax incentives for landlords who will be missing payments.
Q: CPS Energy is owed more than $100 million from more than 170,000 accounts that are more than 30 days past due. CPS Energy plans to resume disconnections for non-payment in the coming months. Do you support CPS Energy resuming disconnections and what do believe should be done about the overdue accounts?
A: CPS must not resume disconnections, and must establish long-term plans to prevent disconnections moving forward. This is an out of the ordinary year and many families may never be able to catch up on payments. CPS must forgive overdue accounts and absorb the costs associated.
Q: San Antonio’s City budget is expected to be balanced for 2022. However, the next four years after — from 2023 to 2026 — see a combined projected deficit of $147 million as cuts made during the pandemic are restored starting this October. The new city council will decide on the 2022 and 2023 budgets. There will be some help from the American Recovery Plan, but the impact it will have is not clear. What do you feel the city should do to address the potential deficits?
A: The city budget must reflect the needs and priorities of the city. Right now, that means the programs that benefit our communities must not be cut such as those of housing, social services, and public health. The city look at the budget and make reallocations from departments that are overinflated to those that are most needed.
Q: The City will ask voters to approve a new bond package in 2022. This bond could reach close to $1 billion. The current 2017-2022 bond is $850 million. The bonds in the past have typically focused on infrastructure and major projects that the city would not otherwise have funded in the general fund budget. What are some major projects that you believe need immediate attention in the upcoming bond? Please consider projects outside of the normal street repair and drainage issue unless you believe that there is a road or flood project that needs considerable updates that have gone ignored for too long.
A: Ella Austin is in need of major repair, and the upcoming bond has the opportunity to save this historically and culturally significant staple in our community. I will be advocated for bond dollars to be allocated there. In addition, we need increased shade and locker rooms at many of our parks, including the Wheatley Heights Sports Complex.
Q: What is an issue in your council district that you feel needs city intervention that other council districts may not experience. What would you propose to fix that issue?
A: One of the largest issues we have is recidivism and lack of access to re-entry services. On Day One, I will begin circulating a series of 6 initial CCRs (Council Consideration Requests), one of which will be a Ban the Box ordinance that includes all businesses in the City of San Antonio. The City of San Antonio uses preemption as a means to prevent the passage of any meaningful policy but, if elected, I will work with my colleagues to pass an expanded Ban the Box ordinance. In addition, many formerly incarcerated individuals struggle to find quality, affordable housing that would lead to stability. We must implement a Tenants’ Bill of Rights that includes but is not limited to: a ban on discrimination based on source of income; relocation assistance when a tenant is forced to relocate due to renovation, demolition, or other breaks in renter’s agreement; a ban on consideration based on non-violent crimes; requirement of landlords to prove forced evictions meet just-cause requirements; and a “first come, first served” application process in order to prevent discrimination. Policy such as the aforementioned would have an increased positive impact on District 2, where many cases of discrimination, eviction, and other barriers to housing exist. We must also continue to financially (and otherwise) support organizations and entities that are already doing the work to assist those formerly incarcerated, released from detainment, and disenfranchised in attaining access to employment, education, personal and professional development, mental and physical healthcare, and housing.
Q: What do you appreciate most about your council district?
A: District 2 is a large and diverse district, but we’re connected in so many ways. As a teacher, I’ve seen first hand the talent that exists in our community’s classrooms - the creators, entrepreneurs, artists, and leaders of our future. What I appreciate most is the familial culture that exists throughout the district. When we are in need, our neighbors are there to lend a hand. When we need food, shelter, or clothing, our community is there. This has been exhibited throughout the pandemic, during the winter freeze, and long before. When there is a need, there are countless helping hands throughout the community ready to fill it.
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