Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff announced Tuesday that he will seek a fifth four-year term in 2018, saying he wants to continue his work on the issues of economic development, quality of life, and public safety.
“I want to continue to build a city that will be safe, to have great amenities in our city, an upgraded transportation and expanded public transit system,” Wolff said during his announcement speech.
Wolff spoke from the main entrance of the Bexar County Courthouse surrounded by all four commissioners, other local politicians, and supporters. First appointed to the Commissioner’s Court in 2001, the former San Antonio mayor currently is running unopposed.
Other policy priorities outlined during the speech included encouraging therapeutic justice for those with drug addictions or mental illnesses, providing better health care, and developing a skilled workforce for a high-skill job market.
Along with all four Commissioners, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar and District Attorney Nico LaHood stood behind Wolff, 76, as he made his announcement. Wolff said they were all working together to put resources into establishing specialized drug and mental health courts, along with working to control the inpact of the opioid epidemic in San Antonio.
Wolff recently voted in support of a County lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon, and Johnson & Johnson for their alleged role in contributing to a drug crisis that has claimed more than 64,000 U.S. lives because of overdoses.
“We sued the pharmaceutical companies because they were not telling the people the truth about what opioids did,” Wolff said.
Local Democrats such as Rep. Ina Minjarez and State Sen. José Menéndez each spoke about Wolff’s accomplishments. In particular, Menéndez praised the Judge for his vision in making public investments despite the criticism those decisions sometimes receive.
“It’s an honor to come down and help a visionary guy who’s willing to sometimes take arrows,” Menéndez said. “I think that’s what it takes for real leadership.”
Menéndez went on to express his appreciation for the Commissioners’ decision not to restore San Pedro Creek “on the cheap,” instead spending $132.8 million on a comprehensive restoration project that includes public art. Wolff also has supported civic amenities such as the planned near-Westside linear park and the restoration of the Alameda Theatre, and has worked to bring both Major League Soccer and Triple-A baseball to San Antonio.
Wolff’s vision is that these amenities will enhance the area’s appeal for both longtime residents and the high-skilled workers local businesses want to hire. Wolff also has worked to expand online educational and technological opportunities. In addition to investing in educational resources like Bibliotech, two years ago the County provided $1 million for an innovation fund to foster high-paying jobs in startup businesses, technology, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, and health care.
Supporting many of these projects requires partnerships with both the private sector and the San Antonio City government, according to Wolff. Councilmen Roberto Treviño (D1) and John Courage (D9) were among the local politicians in attendance at the announcement speech. Courage described Wolff as the “epitome” of a public servant.
As a Democrat, Wolff enjoys a majority of support on the commission, where his son, Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff is the only elected Republican.
“They provide leadership in so many different areas and have been a tremendous group to work with,” Wolff said of his fellow commissioners. “I don’t believe I could have had any better four members of the court to work with.”
Elizondo, 82, has announced he will seek re-election for a 10th term but faces primary contests against the County’s Veteran Service Officer Queta Rodriguez and political newcomer and environmental outreach specialist Mario Bravo.