Mayoral, Council Candidates Appeal to Millennial Crowd

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Mayoral candidate Manuel Medina shares his vision on the future of San Antonio.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Mayoral candidate Manuel Medina shares his vision for the future of San Antonio.

Hoping to inspire San Antonio millennials to support their mayoral campaigns, Mayor Ivy Taylor, City Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8), and Bexar County Democratic Chairman Manuel Medina shared their visions for a better city with a crowd of more than 100 people Thursday night at Dorçol Distilling Company.

With the municipal election less than four months away, the event – organized by MOVE San Antonio, a voting advocacy nonprofit – was the first time all three mayoral candidates were in same room at the same time since kicking off their campaigns, said MOVE San Antonio Executive Director Drew Galloway.

In their brief remarks, each candidate recognized the importance of getting the city’s Milliennial population to the ballot box for the May 6 City Election. Taylor described her vision for San Antonio to be “a globally competitive city” and cited her efforts with the community to secure rideshare operations in the city, bolster the local tech scene, and enhance the city’s arts and culture sector as examples of her dedication to achieve that.

As mayor, Taylor hopes to continue that innovation while also addressing basic needs such as infrastructure and “ensuring that we have a great police force.”

“I know it takes work beyond us at City Hall,” she said, “… it takes all of us working together in order to continue the momentum and the energy we have.”

Mayor Ivy Taylor discusses her accomplishments as Mayor of San Antonio.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Mayor Ivy Taylor discusses her accomplishments as Mayor of San Antonio.

Nirenberg, however, said Taylor could have done more.

“We have no lack of good ideas in the city of San Antonio,” he said. “What we lack is action.”

The District 8 Councilman pointed to San Antonio’s lack of “an efficient and effective public transportation system,” something he said residents from every part of the city have been wanting for years, but have not received. If elected mayor, Nirenberg said he plans to implement “a truly comprehensive multimodal transportation plan” and a more “equitable and compassionate housing policy” as the city continues to be redeveloped.

Councilman and Mayoral candidate Ron Nirenberg specifically calls out transportation as a large problem in San Antonio.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Councilman and mayoral candidate Ron Nirenberg cites transportation as an important issue for San Antonio voters.

Medina, a longtime political consultant who has never held an elected government office, referred to himself as “financially and politically independent” and vowed to “represent the taxpayers” and “fight for our San Antonio values” as mayor.

He said Taylor was “out of touch” with the needs of San Antonio residents and too focused on the 1 million people who will come to live in the city over the next 25 years.

“Mayor Taylor has championed three ‘back-to-basics’ budgets that delivered on streets and drainage, senior programs, parks, and other basic services. She’s supporting a $850 million bond package that will address some of our city’s greatest needs. She meets with residents daily to hear their concerns and aspirations,” said Taylor’s re-election campaign manager Christian Anderson. “Only a candidate who doesn’t know the issues would suggest she’s out of touch.”

Also present Thursday evening were individuals running for their respective City Council district seats. They each had two minutes to share their campaign focuses and ideas for a better San Antonio.

With Nirenberg running for mayor, City Councilman Ray Lopez (D6) termed out, and Councilmen Joe Krier (D9) and Mike Gallagher (D10) not seeking re-election, four Council seats are vacant and up for grabs by candidates ranging from political newcomers to seasoned business owners to educators and civically engaged Millennials.

Council members Roberto Treviño (D1), Alan Warrick (D2), Rey Saldaña (D4), Shirley Gonzales (D5), and Cris Medina (D7) were present and all but Medina and Warrick, who had to leave before their time to speak, addressed the crowd and advocated for their re-election. As of now, Saldaña is running uncontested.

Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3) was not present Thursday, and no one announced their campaign to run against her.

Some Council district races are shaping up to be competitive, such as the District 2 race among incumbent Warrick, attorney William “Cruz” Shaw, and former Councilman Keith Toney, who will officially announce his bid on Saturday.

Meanwhile, there are four contenders in the race for the District 6 Council seat, and the former chairman of the Brooks Development Authority Manny Pelaez is running for the vacant District 8 seat against USAA financial analyst Tony Valdivia.

Pelaez, a business attorney who was Toyota’s first local hire in 2003, touted his experience in the business sector, his leadership on several organization boards including VIA Metropolitan Transit, and his volunteerism as key components that make him the best replacement for Nirenberg.

After hearing the brief statements by the mayoral and City Council candidates, a number of the Millennials said it was still too early to say which candidates will win their votes.

“I’m just now starting to research the candidates and get an idea of who they are,” said attendee Ken Briggs. So far, he is impressed with Nirenberg who he said presented “good ideas and seems to really care about the city and its future.” But Taylor’s history as mayor, Briggs added, has been productive, which gives him pause.

Denise Hernandez, a local Millennial activist, said that she will be looking at each mayoral candidate’s voting history regarding local policies, among other things, to help shape her decision.

“I’m trying to be as open-minded as I can be and trying to see what each person brings to the table,” she said. “I’m going to see who can bring something authentic to San Antonio and see if they really care about our issues” and not their own self interests.

Attendee Daniel Paul Rivera said that once election day comes around, he will vote for candidates that he believes will bring “effective leadership” that keep San Antonio’s momentum going.

“I want somebody who can actually transform San Antonio into a global capital,” he said.

8 thoughts on “Mayoral, Council Candidates Appeal to Millennial Crowd

  1. Even though Manuel has never held an elected government office, that does not mean that he is not capable of being a great leader for this city. He has been the Chairman of the Democratic Party for almost 5 years. He has been able turn Bexar County blue and is a successful business owner. He has been working on behalf of the important issues impacting our community such as equal rights for workers regardless of their sexual orientation, immigrant’s rights, and safety within the city through sanctuary cities. The fact that one has held government office does not mean that one will be a good and effective leader for the city.

    • a business beyond political consultant?

      also – every large city in texas has turned blue. that is more a symptom of city demographics and not a result of grand leadership by county party.

      • Nacho, I am not sure what your question is but if your statement about every large city in Texas turning blue then maybe you can answer why Texas is still a Republican state?

        • LOL. Texas is “red” because in Texas there are more Republicans than Democrats. In cities, however, there are more Democrats than Republicans, hence the blue islands on any statewide electoral map with only a few exceptions (Tarrant and other non-Dallas counties in Metroplex, Nueces, Lubbock, etc.).

  2. I like that Mayor Taylor and CM Nirenberg are talking ‘back to basics’ and improved public transit, respectively, but there might be some truth to the suggestion that both are ‘out of touch’. At least, they seem out of touch not just with where other U.S. cities have made strives in the past few years, but noting what they are now campaigning for compared with what has happened during their time in office.


    COSA’s stalled ADA Pedestrian Access Transition Planning (last updated in 2011?) – By Federal law, this plan should include a yearly schedule of work and budget to remove identified barriers to ADA pedestrian access, addressing obstacles such as where sidewalk ramps and segments are missing and where sidewalks are too narrow to accommodate ADA passing (less than 5 feet wide). By law, the City’s ADA Transition Plan should be easily accessible by the public, but this is not the case currently — including despite recent efforts to engage the public in long-range comprehensive and transportation planning as well as 2017-2022 Bond decision-making. Both Taylor and Nirenberg seem ‘out of touch’ with the barriers to ADA sidewalk compliance that can put San Antonians at risk as well as inconvenience if not make impossible public transit use.

    COSA’s stalled Bike Master Planning (last updated in 2013?) – As other cities have grown and maintained their networks of protected on-street bike paths in recent years as part of encouraging exercise, tourism, public transit use, clean air and new corporate investment, San Antonio appears to have used City budget to remove bike lanes — including along the Broadway corridor where additional bike infrastructure spending is now proposed with the Bond. Along with failing to move ADA sidewalk access forward, the lack of recent City investment in management of bike infrastructure as transit has contributed to keeping San Antonio at the top of national lists of the most unfit cities as well as the cities most dangerous if not deadly for pedestrians. Both Taylor and Nirenberg seem ‘out of touch’ with how to use public bike infrastructure funding wisely or how bike planning and investment can support public health and safety, transit use and City branding.

    COSA’s recent boom in publicly funded parking garage projects – While across the nation city leaders are curbing public investment in parking garage development as new technology and preferences make these expensive structures obsolete, San Antonio appears to be experiencing a bonanza of publicly funded parking garage projects — at the expense of ADA sidewalk improvements, bike infrastructure and other public transit investment. Downtown’s most recent parking study (2015) has not been released to the public (past studies have shown high capacity compared with utilization at peak times), and recent proposals for new publicly funded parking garages have involved removing existing parking for negligible gains in structured parking. The current Council has approved and appears to be recommending that tens of millions in public funds be spent on new car parking structures, even as existing parking garages and lots stand empty and other cities back away from these future-less public investments.

    The spending of public resources on new parking garages is not compatible with a ‘back to basics’ approach or call for better public transportation. There’s a chance to correct course with the Bond program that Council puts forward to voters, but both urban planning Mayoral candidates Taylor and Nirenberg have disappointed to date with their oversight of the basics of bike planning and ADA sidewalk compliance — the minimum grid needed to support public transit use, as well as with how Council has spent on parking garages during their tenure.

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