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San Antonio

San Antonio City Council District 3 Runoff Election 2021

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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.

For TPR's full Voter Guide, click here.

To listen to their candidate forum on TPR's "The Source":

City Council hopefuls Phyllis Viagran and Tomás Uresti will go head-to-head in San Antonio's June 5 runoff election.

*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.


Tomas Uresti

Q: What is your current occupation? How long have you worked in this profession?

A: Self Employed total of 16 years

Q: How long have you lived in San Antonio and in your council district?

A: 45 years

Q: What experience do you have with the City of San Antonio? Boards, Commissions, Appointments?

A: I have not served on above boards with the city

Q: Do you have any other government experience? Previous offices held?

A: Yes. Governmental experience as both a school board member, state legislator, and member of board of directors on the Bexar Appraisal District

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: Changes needed need to be made from within the department. They know the exact concerns and reform needed and in which order. Changes during initial training and mentorship is a must. Also retraining of current officers and administration will need to be implemented. SAPD will be offered an opportunity to quickly correct any citizen/officer contact reform needed. The contract needs to include these changes and if not corrected than changes to contract would apply. Administration within the department would also need to be held accountable.

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: Yes and funding is always available. Qualifications may need to be altered. Other programs may need to be cut in order to continue. We cannot allow our citizens without assistance that are truly in need suffer due to circumstances out of their control.

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: Reassess the program ensuring that abuse of this and other programs does not exist if it is to continue. Also the city should look at alternative housing for renters rather than having landlords flip the cost. A reduced rate could also be an alternative.

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: A possibility of waivers for past due amount prior to proceeding. Customers should be allowed to apply for assistance to have these past due amounts waived.

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: Assess the most needed programs within our city is the only other alternative. No tax hike should even be considered as this will only make things worse. We will have to decide on what programs to alter or cut entirely until the city gets back on it's feet.

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: Public safety by bringing a substation, lighting throughout the district and increasing police presence. The widening of intersections such as Goliad Rd and SE Military. Due to developers and the city not preparing prior to developing in the Brooks City Base area. Also increasing code enforcement officers while expediting processes and increasing fines to repeat offenders of city ordinances.

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: Public safety. Increase visibility of more Police throughout the district. Bringing a police substation to the district. Partnering with county, constable, and school district offices to assist in having more police presence and reducing criminal activity.

Q: What do you appreciate most about your council district?

A: The people. The community is not looking for special treatment, but rather for equity across the board.

Phyllis Viagran

Q: What is your current occupation? How long have you worked in this profession?

A: Trainer at Older Adults Technology Services (Senior Planet). I have worked there since June 2020.

Q: How long have you lived in San Antonio and in your council district?

A: I have lived in District 3 my whole life, being born and raised here.

Q: What experience do you have with the City of San Antonio? Boards, Commissions, Appointments?

A: I worked for the City of San Antonio as a community service specialist with the San Antonio Police Department, where I advocated for victims of domestic abuse. I also worked with the public-private Visit San Antonio who contracted with the City. My leadership experience includes serving on both the Brooks Gives Back Board and The Rape Crisis Center Board. I’ve also worked collaboratively with the San Antonio Police Department to end domestic violence. When the global pandemic hit the San Antonio area, I joined local efforts with area advocates to close the digital divide.

Q: Do you have any other government experience? Previous offices held?

A: While I’ve not held previous political office, I did work as a city employee for 7 years and am familiar with the way that our city government works. This my first run for elected office.

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: As an incoming councilwoman, and District 3 resident, I will ask for more vetting of the arbitrators to make sure that implicit biases are addressed. I would like to increase the period of time to examine criminal complaints against police officers from 180 days to 8 to 12 months. Finally, I would like to see substantially more input from San Antonio’s citizenry. Topline issues regarding domestic violence and adherence to the nondiscrimination ordinance need to also be included during any reform processes.

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: Yes, I would like to see the continuation of the Housing Assistance Program alongside a robust back to work initiative that gets people back to work. We need to be certain that we are securing funds from the federal government to pay for the extension of these programs.

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: We as a city need to work towards ensuring every resident is paid a livable wage and has access to job training or education. We also need to work toward making sure more affordable and accessible housing is available to District 3 residents. I would also like to work with landlords so that they can directly apply for the assistance that would typically go to the renter. This could help landlords collect rent directly from the city programs, without relying on the renters to do it who may not have access to the internet or other application requirements.

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: I believe that before CPS resumes disconnections, we need to ensure that there is accountability and transparency from their board and processes, as well as a resolution on the failures during the winter storm. We must offer low income families the opportunity to keep their lights on. Leaving them in the dark after they have lost their jobs due to the pandemic is cruel.

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: While the city already has ways for residents to participate in the budget process, I will ensure my residents are informed about the budget by going door to door and block walking. With cuts and deficits to the potential future budget, I will work tirelessly with nonprofits and other organizations to ensure our most vulnerable residents are taken care of.

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: With any new project the city is given that involves updating infrastructure, we must look at ways to install broadband connections during that construction. The South and Southeast Side experiences such a large gap in access to the high-speed, affordable internet, and we must ensure that the city is doing its due diligence to close that digital divide.

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: Food insecurity is a large issue for District 3 Residents, with affordable and healthy options for eating difficult to find. I would like to work with Metro Health on the initiatives they already have in place to help end the food desert that exists on the Southside. Also working with the business community to bring more healthy corner stores to the area.

Q: What do you appreciate most about your council district?

A: The people.


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