Applications Open for Interim District 2 Spot on City Council

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Councilman William "Cruz" Shaw (D2).

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

City Council officially accepts the resignation of Councilman William "Cruz" Shaw (right) on Monday.

City Council officially accepted Councilman William “Cruz” Shaw’s resignation Monday, a formality that starts the selection process for an interim replacement to represent San Antonio’s East Side.

Applications and instructions for the District 2 seat are due by Friday, Jan. 4, at 5 p.m. and are available at the City Clerk’s office and online here. The City Council will review applications the following week and select up to three candidates to be interviewed on Thursday, Jan. 10, during its regular 9 a.m. meeting. Council members will take a vote that day, and the replacement will take his or her seat on the dais immediately – until San Antonio voters decide on May 4 who will serve for the next two years.

But residents don’t want a lame duck in that seat for the roughly four remaining months left in Shaw’s term that ends May 31, State Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) told Council members.

(From left) Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D) and Councilman William 'Cruz' Shaw (D2) whisper to one another during a town hall meeting with the Government Hill Alliance Neighborhood Association at St. Patrick Catholic Church.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

(From left) State Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) and Councilman William “Cruz” Shaw (D2) talk during a town hall meeting with the Government Hill Alliance Neighborhood Association at St. Patrick Catholic Church in October 2017.

“The community is concerned,” she said. Gervin-Hawkins is working with church and neighborhood leaders to organize a town hall Saturday for residents and candidates to learn about the process and discuss what priorities the replacement should have for the long-neglected district that is home to the city’s largest black population.

Some residents who spoke Monday said they’d like to see the interim position be filled by someone who plans on running for the spot in the May election so the district doesn’t lose momentum and continuity on projects and initiatives.

District 2 needs someone who can start working right away on bringing meaningful investments and policy decisions, someone who won’t need “on the job training,” said Rose Hill, president of the Government Hill Alliance. “[Council should make sure that] whoever the top three you select that they really, really have a passion for District 2.”

The interim Council member likely will have an advantage over other candidates in the municipal election. Some say that’s an unfair advantage, Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5) noted, but that’s also time during which the interim member is gaining critical experience.

“Having experience counts for a lot,” Gonzales said. “It’s an incredible amount of work.”

Still, neighbors are concerned they won’t have a strong voice on Council, said Dignowity Hill resident Liz Franklin. She urged City Council members to interview all eligible candidates.

“Do not disenfranchise an entire district for 117 days,” she said, adding that they should take the same amount of care in the process as they would if it was their own district. There are 117 days between Shaw’s resignation, Jan. 7, and the May 4 election.

Shaw gave up his seat to become an associate judge at Bexar County’s 436th Judicial District Court, handling juvenile justice cases.

“I intend to be really involved in the process [of appointing a replacement],” he said. “There’s a lot of misconceptions about what a Council person does … so I want to make sure people are aware of our role as a Council. So then we can have conversations about exactly what we’re looking for on City Council.”

He does not yet have an opinion on whether the appointed representative should aspire to win the seat in May, he said, but will be speaking with the community on the best path forward.

During the meeting, several Eastside residents and leaders praised Shaw, who was elected in a runoff election in June 2017, for his work in District 2.

“No skeletons, no scandals … all class,” said Joe Linson, a local businessman who served on the Tricentennial Commission.

District 2 has had its fair share of political drama in recent years. Shaw’s Coucnil predecessor, Alan Warrick, was found drunk on a public park bench at City Hall before the 2017 election.

“I never thought I would be judge, but when the honor was presented to me, I couldn’t say no,” Shaw said. “I’m excited, a little nervous, but looking forward to the challenge.

“There’s no black male elected judge in the County,” he noted, adding that he is looking into starting a mentoring program for the young black men that come through the court system. “Looking like them, coming from the same neighborhoods – I want them to be able to see what’s possible. … They’re lacking a lot of male role models.”

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