Nirenberg Survives Brockhouse Challenge for Mayor

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Mayor Ron Nirenberg celebrates with supporters as he declares victory over challenger Greg Brockhouse.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg celebrates with supporters as he declares victory over challenger Greg Brockhouse.

Incumbent Ron Nirenberg retained his position as San Antonio’s Mayor after defeating Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) in the runoff election on Saturday.

Brockhouse officially conceded at 9:12 p.m.

With 100 percent of precincts counted, Nirenberg held 51.11 percent of the vote to Brockhouse’s 48.89 percent. Details of all the runoff races can be found on the Rivard Report election results page here.

Nirenberg opened the night with a slight lead in early voting, which tightened as more precincts were counted. The margin was just 1.44 points with 78 percent of the precincts voting before a late surge gave Nirenberg the victory.

“We did it!” Nirenberg said to his supporters and staff The Friendly Spot. “We all had a clear choice over the last month, and I want to thank our community who with record numbers made their choices at the polls. It was a record turnout, and it was a very tight race.”

Brockhouse acknowledged shortly after early voting that closing the margin would be an uphill climb.

“This is a bit of a tougher run, not as many votes out there,” he said.

Several of the votes that helped Brockhouse make the race interesting late came from his home District 6, but in the end, there weren’t enough votes available to close the gap.

Councilman Greg Brockhouse conceded to opponent Ron Nirenberg in the contest for the mayor's seat.

Robin Jerstad for the Rivard Report

Councilman Greg Brockhouse conceded to opponent Ron Nirenberg in the contest for the mayor’s seat.

His concession call to Nirenberg was short, Brockhouse said.

“Trust me that’s going to be the shortest concession call in the history of concession calls,” Brockhouse said before the final vote count was in. “There’s not a lot that can be repaired there between Ron and I.”

Nirenberg was conciliatory during his victory speech and thanked the Brockhouse family “for the work that they put into the … council but also in this campaign, to lay out a case for an alternative.

“That’s important, that’s how democracy works. You have choices. We have clear differences in this campaign, in this race, differences in the path we want to take as a community, and I offered a vision for equity, for action, for making sure that your mayor’s office represents everyone.

“We can all work together. That was my vision for San Antonio. That was the vision you elected me for in 2017, and that is the vision you elected me for again in 2019.”

This has been one of the most vitriolic elections in recent memory. While municipal elections in San Antonio are technically nonpartisan, the results show a city philosophically divided as voters faced a stark choice between Brockhouse, a first-term Councilman with more conservative views and close ties to public safety unions, and Nirenberg, a first-term mayor with more progressive plans for the city.

Nirenberg faced criticism for so-called “anti-business” decisions and policy priorities, taking longer than expected to roll out major planning initiatives, and being distracted by attacks launched largely by the fire union, such as the three propositions that were on the November ballot. Those referendums were directed at the City Hall establishment, the former city manager, and giving firefighters an advantage in labor contract negotiations.

Brockhouse worked as a political consultant for the police and firefighters union, the latter of which is engaged in contentious labor contract negotiations with the City. Both unions’ political action committees (PACs) have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his behalf throughout the election. His 90-day Action Plan has been criticized for being heavy on short-term initiatives, many of which are already underway under the current administration.

“San Antonio is a city divided,” Brockhouse said. “51 [to] 49 [percent] is not a good thing for any of us. … There’s no mandate.”

Nirenberg took a different approach and said it’s time for San Antonio to heal after this divisive election.

“It starts today, it starts right now, it starts with a phone call from Councilman Brockhouse, that we begin the process of bringing our communities together,” Nirenberg said. “Political campaigns tend to divide communities anyways, but this has been an especially divisive election and so, the work begins right now and that’s something I take ownership of, and we’ll get to work. This is a community that does well when it does together.”

It’s unclear how allegations of domestic violence against Brockhouse stemming from 2006 and 2009 with an ex-wife and his current wife impacted the results. Brockhouse and his wife denied the latter incident occurred and provided an entirely different account of the 2006 incident than his ex.

Standing on the patio of Viola’s Ventanas during his watch party, Brockhouse was close to tears as he thanked supporters and his family, especially his wife Annalisa, who stood by him for most of the night. He later criticized Nirenberg and the media for using those allegations against him.

“The city needs unity and we’ve got to get past that,” Brockhouse said. “We don’t need to go that dark again. I hope that this never happens again for any family because we went through hell.”

This isn’t how candidates should be treated, he said. “We can’t do this to people.”

Media bias was one of the main factors in the race, he said.

“Frankly I’m running against Ron, the Express-News, and to some extent, Bob Rivard,” he said. “There’s media scrutiny that everybody deserves and then there is media bias. This is media bias.”

Nirenberg refuted the notion of media bias during the election.

“Facts are stubborn things. And record and character matter and they should matter,” Nirenberg said. “Those things need a full airing and that’s exactly what a free press does and I’m glad that they did. In fact, if there’s anything, perhaps there needs to be more accountability brought to those types of issues.”

Brockhouse said he’ll be taking a vacation with his family and does not plan on getting into politics again. He has said that he will likely get back into mortgage lending.

Annalisa said she wasn’t so sure about that.

“Somebody told me today that Greg said he’s done with politics,” she said. “I have an inkling that that might be true. Greg’s heart is a servant’s heart.”

Asked if he will forgive Nirenberg for the negative attacks on his character, Brockhouse said he would at 10:01 p.m. – when 100 percent of the vote was counted.

52 thoughts on “Nirenberg Survives Brockhouse Challenge for Mayor

  1. I am so glad the people saw through the charade of “oh poor me, the media (and my domestic disputes) are being mean to me”.

    • Yeah, can you imagine if that petulant man-child got to lead the city council for two years? I shudder to think.

      Ron is not perfect, but he was by far the better choice in this runoff.

    • Except where was the proof? You guys convicted a man without any trial.

      Brickhouse was the lesser of two evils, and the fact that you relish that RN won demonstrates that you were okay with the way things were being run.

      • I AM okay with the way things are going. Ron is a progressive man who believes ALL people need to have a voice in San Antonio. He also isn’t going to let the Fire Fighters’ Union strong arm the taxpayers into giving them ridiculous benefits (like insurance for ex-spouses) that will bankrupt the city. And there is PROOF that the man had his wages garnished for non payment of child support, and allegations TWICE of domestic violence. Evidence he is a misogynist and doesn’t know how to manage money. Enough for me—GO RON!

  2. Scraping in? Didn’t seem like he worked hard at all. I would have liked to have seen GB Et al completely repudiated.

  3. “There’s not a lot that can be repaired there between Ron and I.”
    “There’s no mandate for either one of us, whoever wins,” he said. “There’s a mandate to be stuck in the mud.” And there you have sore loser Brockhaus in a nutshell. He would’ve been a sore winner too. Division, disruption, my way or the highway, not interested in any other view but his own — We can do better than this San Antonio – we have to!

  4. San Antonio is turning more to the left. I pray that this city never turns like San Francisco or continue moving to be too liberal.

    • Texas needs to turn to the Democratic center. trump has divided this nation with hate, we don’t need that in San Antonio, Texas.

      • 45 did this???!!? Though not a supporter, it gets old listening to people blame him for everything. “Oh, my power got turned off! Must be 45’s fault!” As someone of mixed genes, 44 destroyed any momentum of race healing we had.

        No, Texas doesn’t need to be anywhere near blue. As people like RN and Trevino emulate places like CA and NY, and attempt to make this great state and city like them. We’re watching cities like LA & SF implode. No, we don’t need to be any tinge of blue.

    • Too late. We have shown through this election that we are in favor of political correctness over religious freedom, a San Francisco stance if there ever was one. So, no need to apply for any kind of government contracts if your beliefs are not in line with Nirenberg and city council’s. And the voters, of this once-fine city, just spoke that they agree with that perspective. Goodbye San Antonio, hello San Francisco.

  5. Great careful and informative reporting throughout the evening and in this final article by Iris Dimmick; also nothing else the net was as current… excellent work

  6. Politicians. What vision did you project sir? A vision of San Antonio as San Francisco where homelessness is rising, natives got gentrified, and declared progressives constantly talking about all their virtues while supporting more regulation that hinders small business? Feel sorry for the middle class here in SA about to struggle more as they make the SA -San Marcos -Metroplex a reality.

    • Yes, San Antonio needs to be more democratic, because under trump and his deplorables, hate now abounds in the country. This is what the conservatives want, hatred of your brother!

      • Conservatism does not promote hate. It promotes fiscal responsibility, protection of country, and protection of rights. Hate has escalated in this country because of 44 and groups like ANTIFA.

        Here’s to more secrecy, being voiceless, more taxes, less services, and more like LA & SF every day.

        • Agree…RN needs to be a leader for all and include all in boards, city non-profits, etc. He needs to do what is legal w city contracts-and show leadership. He will have an amenable CC—but needs to include all voices and ideas without rancor or disparagement—in other words, civility.

          This is a city w a54/55% near or below poverty population. He will need to find a way to stop the brain drain and improve business environment if he hopes to compete w New Braunfels and San Marcos for business and an educated, skilled population. It doesn’t matter how big you are, what climate change policy you have, how much affordable housing can be subsidized by the city if you have more than half your citizens living at/near poverty…and all your policies/funds do not actually improve the situation. More than anything else that must be the priority…and it will take a generation to change things—the longer you put it off, the harder it will be. The move will continue to be north and out of a progressive SA that starts to resemble other failing cities.

        • Just the fact that the original post called all who support Trump deplorables shows where the hatred and divisiveness comes from…if you’re going to call people you don’t agree with names, you’ve already lost the argument!

  7. Mandate? Divided city? Mmmmm, remember in 2016, Hillary got MORE that 3 MILLION votes than Trump, and still lost? Since then, trump has divided the nation with his childish antics!

        • Name calling…again? You really don’t get it! Talk about lies and hatred of others…wow.

          Read a history lesson on the electoral college and why it was instituted. Trump won in an electoral landslide. The facts show that all demographics have improved lives due to his policies. Don’t you want improved lives? Trump is a disrupter-and Washington needs some disruption -on both sides.

          You can disagree, but calling names stops the conversation.
          A ‘Deplorable’

  8. Hallelujah!! I live in the County and couldn’t vote in this election, but I was worried for my friends and family who live in the City. Greg Brockhouse reminds me way too much of Donald Trump, and I never bought his insistence that “it never happened”. So glad San Antonio came to it’s senses!!!

  9. I can agree with Greg Brockhouse on only one thing: Yes, the media played a part in his losing. But my reasoning for that is totally different from his. For two years, every statement by Brockhouse that has been reported in the media has been one to turn me off. He is a negative person with a disgruntled attitude. So it was Brockhouse himself who was responsible for me not considering him as a desired leader rather than the media.

    • What a laughable broken record you are. Somehow beautiful, progressive, unique and world class San Francisco is the new hell on earth? LOL! Sure, it’s got problems, lots of them – but racing backwards in time like so many Fox News Republicans demand of their leaders is thankfully not one of them!

      • LOL! Fox News Republicans? Really? Why are so many otherwise intelligent people so frightened by Fox News. Let the disrespect and hatred shine through, I suppose.

        My cable service provides multiple news sources. Among my favorites are the three C-SPAN channels. Give them a try.

  10. Wonderful. You must be thrilled to know your own hit piece assisted him. Now we can all look forward to more secret back room meetings planning useful and advantageous legislation for the city such as banning Chick-fil-a from the airport. That judgmental establishment! Our airport is certainly better off without them. Perhaps he can move on to bigger things- like banning them from the entire city!

      • If CFA makes it into SAT, it will be in spite of Nirenberg, not because of him. He voted right along to disallow them and has not given any sign of reversal or reconsideration of that position. At the moment, outside of a legal challenge from the state or feds, CFA is out. So much for freedom of religious beliefs. San Antonio is now about political correctness, religious freedom be damned. Thanks Ron and Trevino.

  11. I am grateful for the full reporting and the due diligence demonstrated by the media is uncovering the complaints against Brockhouse. This is a man with a poor job history, who had to be guided by the likes of Chris Steele and he wanted to run this city. Thank God the voters came through. No, it wasn’t a landslide, but it was a win!

    • As opposed to RN job history? Due diligence? City insiders? Lack of accountability? Back room deals? Not following city policy in bids? Leaving out major stakeholders? Populating advisory boards and working groups w insiders and no diversity of opinion? He did not get a mandate…not by a long shot…if he thinks funding through bonds will be a given?? People who see this city-of high poverty and low education, go in the wrong direction will leave; and the business environment will need to change if you want something other than call centers. I hope he will take all of this into consideration and truly be a leader for all…not just all who agree w him.

      Can you imagine if the other candidate were even modestly better? RN had an easy opponent to beat-and a lot of help from the media, including RR…and barely won…w less of a margin than in May! A win is a win…but it’s not a mandate…although a compliant CC will be very helpful.

    • I am disappointed at the biased left reporting. The Rivard report reminds me of the Huffington Post. I dislike both candidates but the Rivard report is a joke. I read it mostly now for new restaurants and events taking place. And it does give me entertainment from time to time, like this article to read biased reporting.

  12. Ughhhhh, I’m exhausted just reading all of the bickering. We are living in a very MAD, SAD and HATEFUL society. Every single politician has made promises that have never been fulfilled 100%. I am 61 years young, not ashame to let anyone know that I have never voted and I will never vote because nothing truly ever changes, only seems to get worse with time. The world just keeps spinning in madness. So sad…

    • Lola, there are good people on our planet and our city. I am 60 and I have voted since eligible as I find it my civic duty as a US citizen. That’s just me. things do change…womens rights, civil rights, elected officials voted for SA river extensions when in the past it was just bickering. Register, vote and hope you find peace.

  13. The right person was elected at the right time! I am thankful for that
    i hope that in time we can unite to keep our beloved SA moving forward.

  14. Maybe Mayor Ron and Brockhouse can meet and work together on some of the issues with SAFD and get that problem worked out for everyone, then see about combining ideas for the city as a whole

  15. Well…overall, Ron was the lesser of two evils. A candidate who had the unions in his pocket versus an anti-Chick-Fil-A incumbent.

    Oh, well. Hope that the next mayoral race produces better.

    • Agreed…it is unbelievable that in a city this size these were our only 2 choices! We have a weak mayor system and strong city manager, but we aren’t getting any dynamic choices for mayor!

      It seems that RN will still be a puppet of the old guard city insiders…Henry Cisneros was the person the Express News quoted on RN in the paper today…need I say more about who runs this town…still???

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