A Crowded Ballot Awaits San Antonio Voters

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A vote here sign points potential voters in the right direction at Bowden Elementary School. Photo by Scott Ball.

A "vote here" sign points potential voters in the right direction at Bowden Elementary School. Photo by Scott Ball.

It doesn’t matter where you live in San Antonio. The May 9 City Election ought to grab your attention and motivate you to vote. This spring’s biennial city ballot promises to be one of the most important and crowded in memory.

Voters will elect a mayor, 10 City Council members, and vote on a number of important charter amendments, including whether to start paying salaries to officeholders, who now work for token sums. Since 1951, when the City Charter was written and approved, City Council members have earned $1,040 a year, and the mayor has earned $4,040. Sixty-four years is a long time to go without a raise.

If voters agree that officeholders work full-time and deserve to be compensated, starting July 1, Council members will be paid $45,722 a year and the mayor will be paid $61,725. This would give Council members the median household income in San Antonio, while the mayor would earn the median household income plus 35%. Council decided not to ask voters to approve a companion amendment put forward by the Charter Reform Commission to index pay raises to the U.S. Census conducted every 10 years. Officials fear voters might balk at automatic raises, however modest and infrequent, and reject the whole proposition, as they did in 2004.

Voters also will be asked to amend the way City Council vacancies are filled. When Julián Castro stepped down as mayor last summer to become HUD Secretary he set off a chain reaction. His vacant seat and subsequent Council seats vacated were filled by the Council. An amendment would put those decisions in the hands of voters.

Yet another charter amendment will decide whether to make public elections mandatory for any future rail projects the City undertakes, a measure VIA officials said they will not oppose. There are concerns that the ballot language could handcuff future city councils on future multimodal transportation projects.

(Read more: A 1951 Charter Ready for an Update.)

The deadline for candidates to file was Friday, Feb. 28. There are 14 people who want to be mayor, and while it’s easy to joke about perennial also-rans, the voting machines will be clogged with names. The more legitimate candidates might find their names lost in the listings. Order of name placement on the ballot could have an impact. Drawing of names for ballot placement will be held Monday, 10 a.m. at City Council Chambers.

All 10 of the City Council incumbents have drawn opponents. Except for the dean of the council, Councilmember Ray Lopez (D6), and Councilmember Mike Gallagher (D10), everyone drew at least two opponents.

It seems all but certain that the crowded mayor’s race and a couple of council races will be decided in a runoff election, which would be held Saturday, June 13, giving the candidates a full month to campaign. Early voting for any runoff election would be June 1-9.

The Rivard Report will republish the list of candidates for each race with photos and brief bios in the coming weeks. For now, we are sharing the City of  San Antonio’s listing of the incumbents and challengers in the order they applied with links to their applications, which won’t tell you as much as you would like or need to know. Challengers who have not previously appeared on the Rivard Report who want to help expedite the process can send a photo (headshot) and a brief bio to hello@rivardreport.com.

The names of the incumbents are underlined, including Mayor Ivy Taylor, who was elected interim mayor in late July to serve out Castro’s unexpired term.

Early voting will be held on weekdays April 27-May 5. Click here for voter registration information. Only 7% of registered voters in the city voted in the 2013 elections. We’d like to hear from you: Will you be voting in this  city election?

MAYOR

DISTRICT 1

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DISTRICT 3

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DISTRICT 5

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DISTRICT 7

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DISTRICT 9

DISTRICT 10

 *Featured/top image: A “vote here” sign points potential voters in the right direction at Bowden Elementary School.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

Related Stories:

Four Mayoral Candidates Share Stage for First Time

Pints & Politics: Meet Your Future Mayor

San Antonio’s Economic Imperative: Education & Workforce Development (by Leticia Van de Putte)

San Antonio’s Economy Requires 21st Century Skills (by Mike Villarreal)

A 1951 Charter Ready For an Update

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