Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Two City Council races in the politically fraught suburb of Castle Hills and a third race, for a San Antonio River Authority (SARA) board seat, were contested during elections on Tuesday. And while just 8 percent of registered Bexar County voters showed up to the polls, those voting in Castle Hills and for the SARA board fostered decisive outcomes for the victors.
In Castle Hills, Joe Izbrand and Kurt May both easily won their aldermen races. Izbrand, who recently chaired the Castle Hills Zoning Commission, received more than 80 percent of the total vote to win the Place 1 seat and replace Clyde “Skip” McCormick.
Izbrand, associate vice president for communications and marketing for the University of Texas at San Antonio, beat Bernard Juettemeyer, a former mayoral candidate.
McCormick announced weeks ago he would not be finishing his first term in office, citing personal reasons. But McCormick, on several occasions, had been visibly frustrated with stances and comments offered by Councilmembers Lesley Wenger, Mark Sanderson and Douglas Gregory on various controversial issues during the last several months.
Previously an Olmos Park resident, Izbrand campaigned for improving streets and drainage, preserving neighborhoods, responsible growth, economic development, and civility at City Hall.
“Every door I knocked on, every person I talked to – regardless of their age or how long they’ve lived in Castle Hills or their political affiliation – they all said the same thing: We want our elected officials to act in a dignified manner and for our city not to be one of dysfunction,” Izbrand said.
“Fostering civility and respect [with the council] will be very important to me,” he added.
May, an attorney, won his first race for Castle Hills council, securing the Place 3 post with more than 80 percent of the vote against city zoning commissioner Jana Baker.
May replaces Sylvia Gonzalez, who could no longer occupy her seat because she was incorrectly sworn into office following her election six months ago.
Gonzalez filed a lawsuit against the city in hopes of holding onto her council post, but a district court stopped the suit, saying she had no legal grounds to proceed.
May stressed his skills and experience in mediation and collaboration, and promised to concentrate on addressing issues such as roads, drainage, and public safety.
“The message from voters was loud and clear: They expect better from their elected officials,” May said. “They want to hear ideas that move Castle Hills forward, and not be mired in a part of history that was counterproductive.”
May expressed gratification with Izbrand’s election to the council, saying “(Izbrand) is part of the equation” that could help to heal a politically divided community.
“We also want to get the message out that we have civility back in our government, that stability is back in our government,” he added.
Jerry Garcia Gonzales won another term as the Bexar County District 1 director with the SARA board of directors.
Gonzales secured more than 60 percent of the total vote, easily fending off a challenge from Roxanne “Roxy” Eguia, editor-in-chief for La Prensa Texas.
District 1 covers portions of the far West and South sides of Bexar County. Gonzales said he feels his experience and leadership on long-standing issues and projects convinced voters he merited six more years with the SARA board.
“There’s a lot of big projects that came to us, like San Pedro Creek and Mission Reach and Museum Reach, and I’m looking forward to working on more projects,” Gonzales added.
After retiring in 2018 as a manager with H-E-B following 38 years with the grocer, Gonzales said he’s grateful he has time and energy to devote as a public servant.
“We want people to be informed and for people to know how their taxpayer money is being spent,” he added.
In the only other contested SARA election, James Fuller, Goliad County at-large director and retired physician, defeated retiree William Zermeno.
Three more SARA board positions were uncontested. Lourdes Galvan, former San Antonio City Council member for District 5, won a second term with no opposition.
Wilson County at-large member Darrell Brownlow, the current board chair, and Karnes County at-large member Gaylon Oehlke each won re-election with no opposition.