Greg Brockhouse Officially Launches Mayoral Campaign

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Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) embraces his family after formally announcing his candidacy for mayor.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) embraces his family after formally announcing his candidacy for mayor.

Councilman Greg Brockhouse has officially thrown his hat into the mayoral ring.

The first-term District 6 representative ended a year of speculation at a campaign event Saturday at a Westside record shop when he publicly announced he will give up his Council seat to challenge Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

“We’re stuck and we’re running in place,” he said during his campaign announcement on Old Highway 90. “We’re in neutral at City Hall. … [Nirenberg’s] time is up.”

“I accomplished everything I wanted to do [in District 6] in my first term up to and including changing the city manager,” he told the Rivard Report.

The “City you deserve” is Nirenberg’s slogan, he said this week, but San Antonio “needs to ask itself is this the direction that we want to go?” Instead, we should work to “maintain who we are as a city,” he said.

At Saturday’s announcement, Brockhouse outlined three things he would improve if elected mayor: economic opportunity, transparency, and public safety.

There will be “no more backroom deals” while he’s mayor, he told the crowd, and police officers and firefighters won’t have to worry about if they have a labor contract.

The San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association provided several tents for his event to serve food and coffee to the nearly 100 attendees. Union officials said it has not officially endorsed Brockhouse.

Brockhouse, a 46-year-old former political consultant and Air Force veteran, likely will be Nirenberg’s biggest competition on the May 4 ballot. As of Saturday afternoon, five other lesser-known candidates had registered.

Brockhouse has asserted himself as the contrarian’s voice on a largely progressive City Council. While local municipal elections are technically nonpartisan, Nirenberg and Brockhouse generally follow liberal and conservative lines, respectively.

Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) draws in a crowd before he formally announces his campaign to run for Mayor of San Antonio.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) draws in a crowd before he formally announces his campaign to run for Mayor of San Antonio.

They’ve often taken opposite sides on votes and issues since Brockhouse was elected in 2017, but their most notable clashes have surrounded the November ballot propositions aimed at challenging City Council authority, the city manager’s position, and the City’s handling of firefighter union negotiations. All were supported by Brockhouse, who used to work for the police and fire unions as a political consultant.

During Nirenberg’s first term as mayor, the City initiated several task forces, committees, and plans to address such topics as affordable housing, climate change, transportation, and airport expansion. Such initiatives have received praise from business and community leaders as an effort on Nirenberg’s part to include diverse community voices, but Brockhouse has been one of the most vocal critics of some of the costly recommendations that emerged, such as the 10-year, $3.9 billion affordable housing plan.

“That’s a lot of spending of other people’s money,” he told the Rivard Report, adding that the City needs to get “back to basics” with a focus on “public safety, neighborhoods, job creation, wages – [and other] garden-variety, one-on-one public services.” 

“… At the end of the day, we lack the leadership,” Brockhouse said. “[Nirenberg] creates task forces because he has an inability to get the work done himself. … The No. 1 ‘task force’ that Ron forgets is the City Council – that’s the most important task force, yet he doesn’t include us in decisions.” 

Brockhouse has launched beheardsa.com to collect feedback via a survey from residents across the city.

Brockhouse points to the decision not to pursue the Republican National Convention or Amazon’s second headquarters as the most significant examples of Nirenberg’s lack of communication with Council. That led to Brockhouse’s protest of City Council’s executive session process in which personnel, contracts, and other sensitive matters are discussed behind closed doors. He has attended only a handful of those private Council meetings since May last year because he believes some discussions – especially about whether to pursue multimillion-dollar contracts – should be held in the public eye.

Despite his criticism of some Council procedures, he has successfully brought resources to District 6 and championed other priorities such as funding for a City position to improve employment rates for military veterans and their spouses. But other efforts he spearheaded, such as requesting that city manager interviews be conducted in public – did not receive broad council support. Brockhouse and Councilman Clayton Perry (D10) often find themselves on the losing end of 9-2 Council votes.

“I wanted to shine a light on City Hall and I think I’ve done that,” Brockhouse told the Rivard Report, adding that he led efforts to improve the City’s open records request process. That initiative upgraded the document search process with digital technology in 2017. 

No regrets

While Brockhouse said he has known for some time that he’s running for mayor, the stress that a heated mayoral campaign could have on his family gave him pause.

Brockhouse has four children, each with different women; he has been divorced twice. He makes regular child support payments, he said, and is proud of his sons and daughters, including wife Annalisa’s son from a previous marriage.

“Some men take longer than others to learn what it means to be a man, a father, a husband, and a leader of a family and [understand] what matters most,” he said. “Faith was huge for me in getting there.”

“It’s not easy paying child support. It’s also not easy for the children,” he said. “I think it actually kind of gives me a little bit of insight into what it means to struggle. There have been times in my life when I had zero. …  I’ve stood in that payday loan line because I knew I can’t make this payment. The shame of that, I know that. And I think that gives me a perspective to understand. I think I connect well with residents.

“It was tough, but I’ve got five great kids. Did my life choices make it tougher for them? Yeah, it did. But I don’t have regrets about it. I’d do it all over again. … If someone wants to make a point of it, bring it on.”

Brockhouse said Saturday that he had to ask his wife for permission to move forward with his bid for mayor because campaigns can take a toll on family time and become deeply personal. After the announcement, Annalisa Brockhouse told the Rivard Report that she and her family are fully prepared to make those sacrifices.

As a faith-based family, they will “remain respectful” in the face of any criticism, she said. “There’s no other way to respond.”

District 9 Councilman-elect Greg Brockhouse and his son Luke, 8, celebrate his victory in the runoff election on June 10.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Greg Brockhouse and son Luke, 8, celebrate his victory in the June 2017 runoff election for the District 9 Council seat.

Brockhouse was born in Peoria, Illinois, while his parents were visiting his father’s family, but he grew up on San Antonio’s South Side, where his mother, of Mexican descent, grew up with nine brothers and sisters. Her family has been in San Antonio for multiple generations. Brockhouse said his grandfather was a Canary Islander.

After graduating from John Jay High School, Brockhouse followed his father’s footsteps and joined the U.S. Air Force, primarily working on missile maintenance. His main assignment was in Montana, but he later worked at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. He left the military in 1999, after earning a bachelors of applied arts and sciences from Southwest Texas State University and a public manager certification.

He told the Rivard Report that he worked in management at H-E-B, found “it just wasn’t my thing,” then started work in mortgage lending. He worked for World Savings Bank until the housing loan crash in 2008. But he received a “heck of a severance package,” he said, and was able to do volunteer work until figuring out his next career move.

“Probably the one decision I regret from a professional perspective was jumping [out of the military] when I did,” he said. “I just wanted to make more money.”

A ‘random opportunity’

Brockhouse was volunteering at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower when he met and started working for then-Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros in 2009. That led to work as a political consultant for other local campaigns, and eventually he joined the campaign of underdog candidate Rey Saldaña in District 4. Brockhouse briefly served as his chief of staff when Saldaña took office in 2011.

“I kinda always wanted to run for office. I was very interested in public service,” Brockhouse said. “Life and military and family [got in the way] – I kinda kept putting it off. But me getting laid off from the bank was like a God-given epiphany of a gift. … It was a random opportunity that wouldn’t have produced itself if I didn’t get laid off.”

In 2013, Brockhouse ran against incumbent Councilman Ray Lopez and lost, but he gained experience, name recognition, and a connection to public safety unions that would end up shaping San Antonio’s political landscape for years to come.

“I met with [police and fire union leaders] in 2013 for their endorsements … and I didn’t get endorsed. They liked Ray,” Brockhouse said with a laugh. “We just kinda hit it off. That was it. And I told them I could help them in other areas and they said, hey, we think you can help us, and it just took off from there.”

Brockhouse worked for the firefighters union’s anti-streetcar coalition in 2014, an effort that led to a charter amendment requiring a public vote on street- or light-rail projects. He worked against the Council pay charter amendment and a San Antonio Water System rate hike related to the Vista Ridge water pipeline. Brockhouse also worked for the police union during its contentious labor contract negotiations with the City. The police got a deal in 2016, but the firefighters have gone more than four years without a pay increase as negotiations have begun just this month.

Because of Brockhouse’s close dealings with the fire union and a leaked recording in which the union president said Brockhouse was “our guy” and headed towards the mayor’s seat, some political observers worry Brockhouse, if elected mayor, might help usher in a labor contract that’s good for the firefighters but not necessarily in the best interest of the city.

“If I did that … the public would know the instant I did it and I’d be out of office in the next election,” he told the Rivard Report. “If I gave them the farm, I’d be out of a job. The citizens don’t want me to give them the farm as the mayor. What they want is a good contract that takes care of [firefighters], pays them well,” and is fair to the taxpayer.

A ‘strong mayor’ in waiting?

The union-backed propositions, two of which passed, were largely seen as a political win for the union. And the retirement of City Manager Sheryl Sculley furthered that perception.

Brockhouse was never shy in criticizing Sculley and often called for her resignation. He contended Sculley had amassed too much power in her 13 years as city manager and suggested moving away from the council-manager form of municipal government and into a mayor-council system, which would put more power – and day-to-day responsibility – in the hands of elected officials.

(From left) Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) and City Manager Sheryl Sculley.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) often called for City Manager Sheryl Sculley’s resignation.

However, with Sculley’s impending retirement and Deputy City Manager Erik Walsh assuming the city manager role on March 1, Brockhouse has backed off his procedural criticisms for now.

“I still think there’s a lot of value in [changing to a strong mayor form of government], but let’s reserve judgment and see how [Walsh] does,” he said. “If he’s able to right the city power structure, I think what we then look at is: where is some consolidation [possible], where can we save more money?”

“Let’s see how we transition out of [the Sculley era],” he said. “Was it really just Sheryl Sculley that was bad about the position or is it the position itself?”

Of course, if he loses, he’ll have no platform to have a say in any of this.

A proud Catholic

Brockhouse’s path to this campaign was no coincidence, he said. Although he was raised as a Lutheran, he converted to Catholicism soon after he lost his banking job and went through his second divorce.

“I lost everything. … Usually that’s when you find [religion],” he said. “I had an epiphany with the Lord.”

His faith leads him to take strong stances on caring for the homeless population, he said. “I’m just proud of the fact that I’m Catholic and I think it helps me be a better policymaker,” he said.

The Catholic Church does not support same-sex marriage and he follows the church, he said. But that doesn’t mean he can’t support “equity and fairness.”

He said he would not support repealing a section of the City’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identification. “Why fight a law that says we shouldn’t discriminate against a human being?” he said. “… I’m anxious for people to know that I’m far more inclusive, I think, than people have ever given me credit for.”

Abortion is where he, and the Church, draw a firm line.

“I’m pro-life. I make no concession,” Brockhouse said, adding that he won’t preach from the dais. While abortion laws are not in a municipal government’s purview, City Council does control zoning rules, which can impact where clinics that perform abortions can be located. He would vote against abortion whenever possible, he said.

“I’m not going to be party to it under any circumstance,” he said. “There are some things I won’t vote on and sell my soul on.” 

A calculated risk

Brockhouse knows that running for mayor puts his political clout in jeopardy, but he’s willing to run the risk.

“If they choose Ron’s path, so be it,” said Brockhouse, who thinks he’s leaving District 6 in a good place. “It’s not the end of my life. … If I lose, I go back to my family and get back to making money again and raise my last boy at home, and we’re going to have a good time.”

He did say Saturday that, win or lose, “I will miss my [District 6] seat dearly because I love and fought for that seat for four years.”

He told the Rivard Report this week that he thinks the fact that Nirenberg isn’t a native San Antonian – though he’s lived in the city for 17 years – should work in his favor.

“I don’t think it’s a negative that Ron’s not from here, I think it’s a positive for me,” Brockhouse said. “It just makes me better qualified.”

34 thoughts on “Greg Brockhouse Officially Launches Mayoral Campaign

  1. Brockhouse says, “I accomplished everything I wanted to do [in District 6] in my first term…” REALLY?? Ask him about that Community Garden he said he was going to coordinate & fund with a willing District 6 landowner. He & his staff were unresponsive to Green Spaces Alliance, citizens, and the Parks & Recreation Department when we tried to get it going. Some goals count, some don’t. Hmmmm

    • Hey Gail G.
      Ask him about it now that they have the property at Timber Ridge that they just cleaned up for a new playground on 2.5 acres, part of it can be a playground and the other a community garden instead of a dog park

    • The Community Garden requires on-going support by the local residents since the property will continue to be privately owned. At a D6 meeting, the owner was not willing to convey this property to the city; therefore the city will not maintain or manage the proposed pocket park. I encourage you to contact your Neighborhood President and participate in garnering support for this worthwhile idea.

  2. I’m intrigued with one of the sentences in the article above: “If I gave them the farm, I’d be out of a job. The citizens don’t want me to give them the farm as the mayor. What they want is a good contract that takes care of [firefighters], pays them well,” and is fair to the taxpayer.

    Should I be concerned that the words, “and is fair to the taxpayer.” are not in quotation marks? Perhaps Mr. Brockhouse couldn’t care less about the taxpayer; it sure doesn’t look like he said that he was.

  3. Mayor Nirenberg’s many task forces and committees have indeed received praise from business and community leaders. Small wonder, since that’s the only community represented in any of his appointments. How many committees can Lionel Sosa and Hope Andrade participate in before we realize that what they’re bringing to the table are the same old tired ideas we’ve been hearing for years? Their recent efforts to create a transportation plan focused on nothing so much as putting yet more VIA busses on the roads. They’re like Vikings stuck in time.

    But it’s laughable that Councilman Brockhouse blames Mr. Nirenberg for not including the council on major decisions, when he’s admitted that he’s only attended a handful of meetings about personnel decisions and million-dollar contracts. I wonder if his constituents mind receiving part-time representation from someone they’re paying a full-time salary to.

    • I agree with your comments regarding Sosa and Andrade. They can’t be experts in all the areas they have been appointed to serve. I contend these favorite sons and daughters are appointed to the positions they have been out of some indebtedness and their desire to enhance their standard of living and those of their families.

  4. “’I’m pro-life. I make no concession,’ Brockhouse said, adding that he won’t preach from the dais. While abortion laws are not in a municipal government’s purview…”

    Pre-K education isn’t in the municipal government’s purview either, but that didn’t stop a liberal city council from ramming it thru and spending our last 1/8 cent sales tax on the effort. You can rest assured about one thing: Mr. Brockhouse will indeed preach from the dais and he won’t lose a wink o’ sleep about it.

    • Travis, I assume you have read the recent findings that Pre-K has been shown to significantly improve students’ future academic performance and social outcomes. Is that a bad “liberal” thing?

      • At what cost per child? They should have gains with the resources available bc of addtl sales tax. Jury is still out on whether these gains are sustained. It will be interesting to follow these kids thru high school. With the severe lack of an educated workforce in SA we can only hope!

      • I never said that I’m against Pre-K funding for children. On the contrary, I think it’s an investment that time and again has shown its value. What I opposed is the “liberal” council members pushing so hard to pay for it with CITY tax dollars. If school districts think it’s important that children receive Pre-K education, then let them build fewer football stadiums to pay for it.

        • Agree with you. I was saying that tax funded preK funds per pupil at a rate public schools can’t come close to and therefore should have spectacular results…but the jury is out on whether those costs are worth the results. There are also diverse opinions on whether we should put children in school at such a young age and whether preK is taxpayer subsidized daycare. Personally I think if the city wants to invest in education it should be in trades and technology–we have a city where almost 55% are in poverty or near poverty and we have a low skill, uneducated workforce–not much of a future for the city unless things change.

  5. Best of luck to him, a competitive race is good for the city and will hopefully drive turnout. He’s certainly in the top 2 best candidates so far.

  6. He “accomplished” getting rid of Sculley? Really? Greg, what part of “she retired” don’t you understand? Your prop to limit CM’s salary & term didn’t affect her salary & term.
    He believes in “equity and fairness” yet wants to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. That’s equitable and fair? Really?
    Marriage is a civil act, not a religious one. If he doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage then he shouldn’t attend nor officiate at any.

  7. Let’s investigate:
    Canary Islander. Why isn’t being of
    Mexican decent good enough?
    X-wives. I bet he is a chauvinist, at the least.
    Air Force. Talk to men and women he served with.

    We need to play dirty with this guy, as he did with Sculley.

  8. One term on City Council and he’s “accomplished everything ??”
    He wants to be Mayor so bad it hurts. Year after next he’ll be running for President . Hyper conservative, combatative, right wing social agenda, another “my way or the highway” egomaniac. Thanks – I’ll pass.

  9. He talks out of both sides of his mouth which is what union lackeys do. A union thug who needs to be as far away from City Hall as possible.

  10. I’ve always been for the underdog and the people who are willing to go against the establishment. Time will tell if he is for real.

      • Your competent city council agreed to the evergreen clause-not the fault of the unions but the fault of some incompetent city leadership in my opinion.

  11. We need fresh ideas and people not puppets of the crony crowd that makes/keeps themselves wealthy but does nothing to make this a better city for citizens. No more city non-profits that are a way of putting their people on boards and using taxpayer money in inefficient and ineffective ways. This city, if it hasn’t already, is going to miss any chance at becoming attractive to high quality employers that bring good salaries and all the other benefits to a city. We have almost 55% of residents at or near poverty…let that sink in! The city’s answer: affordable housing; a transportation plan that promotes bike lanes, scooters and more bus routes to fix the problem. It seems other priorities are a climate plan that is unaffordable, but in a city that continually clearcuts trees; overdevelopment without infrastructure to match; and lack of urban planning/zoning for an aesthetic city that offers quality of life neighborhoods. We need a bold, inclusive servant leader…asap.

  12. One thing for sure. There will be no contract agreement with the fire department until after the election. They will drag their feet in negotiations waiting for “their man” to be elected mayor so he can give them everything they want which will result in soaking the taxpayers for years to come for the costs of giving them a king’s ransom in benefits.

  13. Can we talk about how slanted and deceitful beheardsa(dot)com is?! I genuinely wanted to participate, but I couldn’t bring myself to complete the survey. It also carries the appearance of a city-led survey, with no mention of his campaign until the very bottom of the page, adding to the deceit.

    Limited answer choices are available, only those that fit his viewpoints, and the potential responses to climate change are cut off mid-sentence. Plus, are we really still asking the public if they believe climate change is happening, and firing people up by asking them to pick more roads or more bike lanes? This is not leadership.

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