Incumbents, Newbies and Potential Surprises Enter City Council Race

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City Council's A Session convenes for the first time after their month-long break in July.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

The filing period to secure a spot on the May 4 municipal ballot closed Friday, Feb. 15.

The deadline to apply to be on the May 4 municipal ballot closed at 5 p.m. Friday, and 60 candidates filed. A list of those candidates is posted below. After three candidates withdrew from the race, 57 people will vie for the various seats.

Most sitting Council members face minor challenges, but three districts – 2, 4, and 6 – won’t have incumbents vying to protect their seat.

Those district races and Councilman Greg Brockhouse’s campaign to unseat first-term Mayor Ron Nirenberg likely will be the most contentious, but hotelier Justin Holley’s bid for Councilman Roberto Treviño’s District 1 spot also is likely to feature lively debates. Treviño, a third-term councilman, also will face seven additional challengers.

In District 2, three of the 13 candidates who applied for the interim seat left by former Councilman William “Cruz” Shaw now are now vying for the full two-year terms alongside other familiar and unfamiliar names. Interim Councilman Art Hall had said he would not run for the full-term seat. Keith Toney, who served as interim representative four years ago and was supporting former firefighter Dereck Hillyer for the interim spot, has put his hat in the ring. Toney lost a runoff election to former Councilman Alan Warrick in 2014 and ran a brief campaign in 2017 before backing Warrick against Shaw in that election.

Hillyer, who was not selected as a finalist for the interim position after his record as a firefighter was released, applied to be on the ballot, but has since withdrawn his name. Denver Heights Neighborhood Association President Aubrey Lewis submitted an application to be on the ballot, also later withdrew his name.

Motivational speaker Jada Sullivan, who also applied for the interim spot Hall currently holds, filed to run for the full-term seat. A minority of current Council members wanted Sullivan in the interim seat. Five other East Side residents also have applied to be on the ballot.

Jada Sullivan chats with friends before she is interviewed for the new District 2 council person.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Jada Sullivan (center) meets with community members during the interview process for the interim District 2 seat in January.

In District 4, the seat vacated by Rey Saldaña after he served the maximum terms (eight years), former Ethics Review Board Chair and native San Antonian Adriana Rocha Garcia is the presumed frontrunner. But fellow native and Democrat Genevieve Trinidad also is ramping up her campaign. Trinidad is a former educator who is active in South San Independent School District discussions and a frequent critic of the district. In 2015, she ran unsuccessfully against Saldaña, coming in third with 9.9 percent of the vote.

Johnny Arredondo, a Republican who was trounced by Ina Minjarez in the 2018 election for Texas House District 124, ran for the District 4 seat in 2017 against Saldaña. Arredondo received 14.5 percent of the vote. Joel Mendoza, who listed his occupation as “sales,” and Samantha “Sami” Sanchez, who described herself as a “quality and proposal specialist,” also are running in the district.

Local Attorney Melissa Cabello Havrda again is running for the District 6 seat vacated by Brockhouse. It was a somewhat close race when she ran against Brockhouse two years ago with outgoing Councilman Ray Lopez’s endorsement, but Brockhouse ultimately won with 52.4 percent of the vote.

Andy Greene, who said on his application he is a certified public accountant is joining the District 6 ballot. Greene has worked for the District 6 office as Brockhouse’s senior advisor on infrastructure. Mario Adame and Robert Herrera filed to be on the district’s ballot Friday afternoon.

District 8 attracted two challengers for Councilman Manny Pelaez: political consultant Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe and Tony Valdivia. Gonzales-Wolfe is a transgender Latina running on a platform of inclusivity. Valdivia, a senior reporting analyst at USAA, ran for the seat in 2017.

Reinette King, a familiar name in conservative political circles, is among the five candidates challenging Councilman Clayton Perry in District 10. King served as a spokeswoman — albeit temporarily — for the fire-union backed charter amendments.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Reinette King.

Perry and Pelaez, both running for their second terms, are expected to hold onto their seats.

Candidates, or their designated proxies, will draw for a random order on the ballot Tuesday, Feb. 19, and Friday, Feb. 22 at 5 p.m. is the deadline for candidates to remove their name, City Clerk Leticia Vacek said in an email.

“If anyone is disqualified by a State District Court under State law, then the ballot list can change,” Vacek said.

Here’s a list of candidates with their names linked to a .pdf of their ballot applications and some occupational/background information. Websites/Facebook pages linked as available.

MAYOR: Nine candidates

  • John Velasquez – psychologist – Facebook page
    • Previously unsuccessfully  ran for mayor (2017)
  • Ron Nirenberg – incumbent mayor, consultant voteron.com
    • Previously severed as District 8 Council member for four years, elected as mayor in 2017
  • Matt Piña – “political scientist” mattpina.com
    • Previously unsuccessfully ran for District 9 (2017) and Texas Land Commissioner as a Libertarian (2018)
  • Michael “Commander” Idrogo – military veteran – michaelformayor.net
    • Ballot perennial, has not held any local offices
  • Greg Brockhouse – District 6 councilman, political consultant, Air Force veteran – gregbrockhouse.com
    • Elected to City Council in 2017
  • Tim Atwood – part time middle school Spanish teacher
  • Carlos Castanuela – “Toyota quality inspector” – Facebook page
  • Bert Cecconi – veteran, retired dentist – website pending
    • Has run for several City Council positions, including mayor, at least nine times total unsuccessfully
  • Antonio “Tony” Diaz – “self employed,” indigenous rights activist – Facebook page
    • Previously unsuccessfully ran for mayor (2017) and was a Green party candidate for Texas Congress in 2012, 2014, and 2016. He ran for District 2 in 2013.

DISTRICT 1: Nine Candidates

DISTRICT 2: Eight Candidates

DISTRICT 3: Two candidates

DISTRICT 4: Five candidates

DISTRICT 5: Four candidates

DISTRICT 6: Four candidates

DISTRICT 7: Four candidates

DISTRICT 8: Three candidates

DISTRICT 9: Four candidates

DISTRICT 10: Five candidates

*If you are a candidate or representative and would like to add or improve a website/Facebook page link, please email iris@rivardreport.com.

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