Bekah McNeel / Rivard Report
District 2 challenger William "Cruz" Shaw ousted Councilman Alan Warrick on Saturday night, after the incumbent's re-election campaign was derailed down the stretch by revelations of public drunkenness. Another incumbent, District 1's Roberto Treviño, narrowly held on to his seat in an election with six City Council runoffs.
Greg Brockhouse claimed District 6's open seat, while Manny Pelaez won in District 8 and John Courage upset Marco Barros in District 9. In District 10, Clayton Perry completed what will be a Council featuring six newcomers working with a new mayor, Ron Nirenberg. Nirenberg ousted incumbent Ivy Taylor by a 9-point margin.
Shaw, an attorney, bounced Warrick by grabbing 56.36% of the vote to Warrick's 43.64%. The incumbent trailed when early vote totals were released Saturday evening by the Bexar County Elections Department and never closed the gap.
Warrick won 41% of the general election vote in May to Shaw's 29% and appeared poised to retain his seat. But three days before early voting began, Warrick was found passed out in the early morning hours on a bench outside City Hall after drinking in a downtown bar. Warrick claimed he does not have a drinking problem and apologized for his actions and for insinuating that he had been drugged, but heavy news coverage of the episode proved too much for him to overcome.
Warrick said he was unsure whether his downtown misadventure damaged his ability to hold onto his seat.
"There are probably 4,000 folks that I need to talk to between now and any future run in D2 before I would know," he said.
Meanwhile, a full house at Shaw's watch party at Tony G's Soul Food spilled out into the street as supporters hugged one another and celebrated.
"Now the real work begins," said Shaw, thanking his supporters. "We need to get organized and get talent and resources to the table."
Shaw supporter Jessica Barraza said that Warrick's supporters had been "in their face" throughout the campaign, and voter turnout was a concern, but she was confident she was backing the right candidate for District 2.
In District 1, Treviño fended off a challenge by technology lawyer Michael Montaño with 51.68% of the vote, less than 4 percentage points over his challenger. Treviño claimed 52.8% of the early vote to Montaño's 47.2%.
"In a race like this, not only did people try to kick us in the teeth, but they tried to kick my staff in the teeth," Treviño said in declaring victory. "They did not succeed. I have a great staff and they're here tonight, voluntarily. They believe in what we're doing."
Montaño said that despite his loss, his campaign sent a powerful message to Treviño.
"We were challenging the most powerful and deep-pocketed incumbent in the city, who had the complete backing of the political establishment," he said. "But we knew that there was a yearning for change in District 1, throughout the neighborhoods that felt ignored."
In the days before the election, Treviño had flatly denied accusations that he used City resources, including staff time, for his campaign. Montaño criticized the incumbent for being unresponsive to constituents and for spearheading the $170,000 public bathroom installed downtown. Citations for public urination in the area have since decreased by more than 50%. But Montaño found himself defending his own ethical behavior when it was revealed that, while attending Yale University in 2002, he was arrested on charges of voter fraud. The felony charges eventually were expunged from his record.
During the May 6 general election, Treviño was just 113 votes shy of winning outright in a field of six candidates.
Shedding tears as he hugged family and friends at Viola’s Ventana, where more than 100 people had gathered, Brockhouse vowed that over the next two years, everything he does as the District 6 representative will be “from the heart and for the neighborhoods.”
“We will speak the truth at City Hall, I promise you that,” Brockhouse told the jubilant crowd. “I won’t do it angrily, I won’t do it with prejudice, or with malice in my heart. I’m going to do it from the bottom of what I think is most important: the face of who we are is communities and neighborhoods.”
Brockhouse, a political consultant who is well-known in the district from his previous run for the seat in 2013 and in political circles from his work with the police and firefighter unions and other interest groups, was endorsed by those unions and others. Havrda was endorsed by outgoing District 6 Councilman Ray Lopez and former Mayor and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro.
Brockhouse got 36% of the vote in May, ahead of Havrda’s 21%.
Nirenberg's run for mayor left the District 8 spot up for grabs, and Pelaez, a labor attorney who has served as a trustee for VIA Metropolitan Transit, pulled out a solid victory over Cynthia Brehm, a social conservative who retired from working in the nonprofit sector. Pelaez won with 55.07% of the vote to Brehm's 44.93%.
"I’m excited and optimistic about what’s in store for the future," Pelaez said. "I’m very thankful to the city for all the opportunities [it has] given me. I’m also thankful to my opponent. She ran a good race, and nobody runs these races unless you love San Antonio and I thank her for that energy and hope we will eventually be able to collaborate with one another."
Voters didn't seem deterred by questions about Pelaez's duration of residency in the district. Brehm's showing could be a reflection of word spreading about her negative opinion about refugees that was revealed right before the May 6 election.
In District 9, Courage claimed a victory over Barros for the seat being vacated by Joe Krier. A longtime Catholic school teacher, Courage had 52.65% of the vote, while Barros trailed with 47.35% in a district that had the highest voting totals in the city, with 16,122 votes cast. On a crowded 10-person ballot in May, Barros secured 24% of the vote, 2% more than Courage, but could not build on that success.
In District 10, Ezra Johnson and Perry were only 18 votes apart in the first round of voting with eight other candidates on the ballot, but Perry, a retired Air Force engineer, surged ahead with 53.09% to Johnson's 46.91% on the strength of endorsements from several former District 10 representatives.
“I owe this to my volunteers, " Perry said. "They’ve been fantastic the whole time. I’ve gotten support from five of the last six Council members.”
Both Krier and Councilman Mike Gallagher (D10) chose not to seek re-election. Lopez reached his term limit on Council.
Early voting and mail-in ballots represented 9% of the 753,736 registered voters in San Antonio. The May 6 general election, which included more ballot items, attracted 11.32%.
To read more, check out the Rivard Report‘s 2017 election archive here.