Scott Ball / Rivard Report
An incumbent seeking a second term faces a challenger in a race for a San Antonio River Authority board seat representing parts of the Far West and South sides.
Roxanne “Roxy” Eguia is facing incumbent Jerry G. Gonzales in a race for a District 1 seat representing much of western and southern Bexar County on the River Authority board.
The race is the only competitive River Authority board race in Bexar County, with District 2 incumbent Lourdes Galvan running unopposed. River Authority board members serve six-year terms at the head of the water agency whose main source of independent funding is property tax revenue in Bexar, Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties.
The River Authority is considering whether to more than double those property taxes to fund an expansion of its water quality, flood prevention, and recreation services.
Eguia, 27, works as editor-in-chief for La Prensa Texas, a semiweekly newspaper in English and Spanish. She got involved last year when the family-owned newspaper re-launched as a nonprofit, she said.
Eguia graduated from San Antonio College with a degree in journalism and covered education for its student newspaper, The Ranger. Aside from her job at La Prensa, she also works as a laboratory technician for the Instructional Innovation Center at St. Philip’s College.
In an interview Friday, Eguia cited her passion for the San Antonio River, which she refers to by its often-cited Coahuiltecan name of Yanaguana, as the main reason for running. She said the river often features prominently in her work as part of a local performance art collective, HoK, or House of Kenzo.
“I really am passionate about Yanaguana and about the river ecology, and it’s something that I just have always loved,” Eguia said. “It drives a lot of my personal rhetoric in moving through the world. I’m here to stay, I’m community-engaged, and as an artist that’s traveled really far, I’m ready to be in San Antonio and do the work to make sure all of our rivers and watersheds stay cute and accessible.”
Gonzales said in an interview that he has “the knowledge, the wisdom, of working for the citizens and being involved with the community.”
“I think I have the experience, being involved with different issues,” Gonzales said. “I’m the best candidate because I believe in myself.”
Gonzales, 59, has served on the board since 2013, when he won the seat from incumbent N. Ruben Flores Perez, beating fellow challenger Ricardo A. Martinez. Gonzales also served on the board of the Bexar Metropolitan Water District before that utility was dissolved and absorbed into the San Antonio Water System.
A 38-year employee of H-E-B, Gonzales said he worked his way up starting as a grocery bagger in high school and retiring last year as a receiving manager.
Asked why he’s seeking another term, Gonzales said he wants to continue seeing the development of trails along San Pedro Creek and the Westside Creeks. He described the first phase of San Pedro Creek as “a good call” and “a beautiful park.”
Neither candidate devoted vast resources to campaigning. Eguia said she’s mostly been speaking face-to-face with groups already interested in water issues, such as the Bexar County Green Party. Gonzales said he’s been block-walking and visiting polls, and he has run an advertisement for his campaign in the Southside Reporter.
“This election has just been really chill,” Eguia said. “All the people who are interested know about it.”
Both candidates avoided taking positions on whether the River Authority should more than double property taxes to fund an expansion of its programs. Both pointed to a likely public vote in November 2020 if the River Authority board chooses to put it on the ballot.
“That’s everyone’s main concern,” Eguia said when asked about the property tax hike.
“I would just think really hard before we do it,” she said. “I think there has to be a lot of math and breakdown. I really think we should expand our programs, but I also think that SARA has a lot of opportunities to do it holistically” in partnership with other water agencies.
Gonzales, who was among the board members who voted for a resolution, said he’s “pleased” it will be “put to a vote of the people.”
“We’ve got a lot of work to do on that still,” Gonzales said. “It’s an early stage in the proposal, there’s a lot of questions I need to ask, and the one thing that I really like is once we make the call, the voters are going to decide whether they want it or not.”
Aside from the Bexar County races, one seat representing Goliad County remains competitive, with James K. Fuller, an incumbent, running against challenger William Zermeno. Current board members Gaylon J. Oehlke and Darrell T. Brownlow are running unopposed for reelection in Karnes and Wilson counties, respectively.