Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Councilman Greg Brockhouse will make a “big campaign announcement” this Saturday, but it remains unclear if it will be for a mayoral run or re-election in District 6. He’s saving his definitive answer until then.
He can’t do both, and so far he would be the only significant challenger to Mayor Ron Nirenberg. While his years-long battle for the District 6 seat was hard-fought (and won in 2017), political observers have said this may be his strongest shot at the first-term mayor before Nirenberg establishes political momentum to serve out an eight-year-maximum term.
Much of his consideration has to do with “how this weighs on my family,” Brockhouse told Rivard Report on Tuesday. Mayoral campaigns – especially ones against an incumbent – can be particularly rancorous, Brockhouse said, and if he were to run for mayor, he would expect personal attacks.
“They’ll say anything to win,” he said. “That’s probably what’s slowed me down the most [in making a public decision].”
Within the last 20 years, Nirenberg is the only sitting Council member to challenge an incumbent mayor. Brockhouse has laid a solid foundation with oppositional, often solitary, votes against the mayor and Council – not unlike Nirenberg’s votes against Ivy Taylor when he represented District 8.
But perhaps most notable was a vote Brockhouse cast while off the dais to support three firefighters union-backed propositions to limit the future city manager’s position, give the union the option for binding arbitration in contract negotiations, and change the rules of referendum. (Voters approved the two former, but not the latter.) He was the only Council member to endorse the propositions. Some see Brockhouse’s connections with the public safety unions – he used to work for both the police and fire unions as a consultant and remains the self-proclaimed “biggest supporter” of first responders on the dais – as an advantage to get contract negotiations started. Others regard it as a conflict of interest.
Brockhouse has been a visible representative in his district, hosting town halls, informational sessions, and other events across the far West Side. His announcement, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, will take place at the location of a recent “win” for residents – the City’s first “Legacy Business,” Del Bravo Record Stores at 554 W. Old Highway 90. The commercial corridor of largely mom-and-pop businesses and surrounding area was recently designated as an official Cultural Heritage District – one of only two in San Antonio.
“I purposely chose that location because … it’s a forgotten side of town,” he said, and because of the work his office has contributed toward achieving those recognitions. “This is where I spent a lot of time growing up.”
The thoroughfare is now known as Enrique Barrera Parkway, but Brockhouse said he would support restoring the former name. He will hire a polling firm to ask area business owners and residents what they think, he said. “My gut tells me that the neighbors want [to bring back the name], but you don’t know until you ask.”
Local attorney Melissa Cabello Havrda, who lost a runoff election to Brockhouse in 2017 but drew nearly 48 percent of the vote, filed to be on the District 6 ballot on Wednesday afternoon.
“I feel like I have a really good chance,” Havrda told the Rivard Report after filing. “I don’t know what Councilman Brockhouse is going to do, but I really want to pick up where I left off.”
She’d like to see more investment in “pockets of [District] 6 that are very old neighborhoods,” she said. “Things have changed over the last two years on Council, but not a lot has changed in our neighborhoods.”
That’s not a criticism of Brockhouse or previous Council members, she said, but it’s time to “try different avenues” for tackling pervasive issues such as the retention of younger generations.
Brockhouse first ran against then-Councilman Ray Lopez in 2013, but earned only 38 percent of the vote. Lopez won 56 percent with two other challengers on the ballot. Lopez reached the eight-year term limit in 2017 and endorsed Havrda to replace him.
So far, she is the only District 6 candidate officially on the ballot, but the deadline to apply to be on the May 4 ballot is not until Feb. 15.
If there is an open seat for the district after Saturday, Havrda said, “people will come out of the woodwork” to apply.