Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
District 2 City Councilman Alan Warrick’s re-election campaign got a boost Wednesday with the announcement that Keith Toney, former Councilman and one of Warrick’s three challengers in the May 6 election, is lending his support.
But around the time Warrick was giving a press conference with news of Toney’s endorsement on the steps of City Hall, his runoff election opponent, William “Cruz” Shaw, accused Toney of asking him to pay $15,000 in exchange for his support. Warrick and Toney denied Shaw’s claim.
Warrick received nearly 41% of the vote on May 6, short of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. Shaw placed second with more than 28% of the vote to qualify for the June 10 runoff. Toney finished third with 23%, followed by Dori Brown with 7%.
Warrick, a small business owner bidding for his second full term on the Council, said he reached out to Toney immediately after the recent election. Warrick voiced respect for Toney’s history of service in District 2 and his commitment to various issues affecting the Eastside, despite their occasionally contentious rivalry in recent years.
“I am wholeheartedly glad to have [Toney’s] support,” Warrick told the Rivard Report. “I want [Toney] to remain engaged. We need that voice if we are going to keep moving this district forward.”
Warrick also said he could not dismiss more than 1,300 residents who voted for Toney.
“That number would’ve won some [District 2] races in the past,” Warrick said at Wednesday’s news conference.
Last week marked the third time Warrick has faced Toney in an election. Toney served as interim District 2 Council member for four months before Warrick defeated him in a December 2014 special election runoff. Toney finished a distant second to Warrick in a three-way Council race in May 2015.
Toney said he had separate conversations with Shaw and Warrick following Saturday’s election regarding a possible endorsement, and concluded that he and the current Councilman shared many of the same values.
Toney asked his supporters and other District 2 voters to “set aside your differences and vote for experience and integrity.” A military veteran, Toney has served as a school liaison officer for Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
At about the same time of the news conference, Shaw made the claim that Toney “tried to sell me his endorsement for $15,000 on Monday” on his campaign’s Facebook page. In the same post, Shaw wrote Warrick is “part of the corrupt good ol’ boy system and pay-to-play schemes that it runs on. I reject that system.”
Warrick and Toney called Shaw’s claims baseless. Toney described his Monday meeting with Shaw as one in which he only asked Shaw about his stances on district issues and his objectives. Toney said that, after a similar meeting with Warrick, he was “absolutely convinced” that backing the incumbent was the right call.
“I hit [Warrick] hard on the campaign trail, but I was absolutely convinced that he gets it. He gets my perspective better,” Toney said. “I get his perspective better, and I’m convinced I can work with Alan Warrick, not so with Mr. Shaw.”
Toney said Shaw asked him if he had campaign debt, to which Toney replied he did, but was unsure of the amount.
“But I didn’t ask for any money,” Toney said. “What we wanted to know was, what [was Shaw] going to do for the community.”
Warrick described Shaw’s allegation as a desperate gamble.
“If you’re jealous that you didn’t get the endorsement and if you have potentially 75% of the vote against you, you might throw out allegations,” he said. “Mr. Toney never asked me for anything. We’re moving together as a community. This is the best choice for District 2.”
Shaw, who owns his own law practice, called Toney’s endorsement of Warrick puzzling.
“It doesn’t make any sense. Keith and Alan have been going after each other since Ivy Taylor left” the District 2 Council seat after being appointed mayor, Shaw said.
Toney’s endorsement is the latest turn in an election that some political observers have described as a grudge match between Warrick and Shaw. Warrick sought Shaw’s resignation from the City’s Zoning Commission last June, voicing ethical concerns over Shaw’s then-rumored candidacy.
Shaw said during the campaign that many District 2 residents felt disconnected from Warrick. But Warrick dinged Shaw for missing a number of candidate forums and meet-and-greets with District 2 residents over the past few months.
Shaw noted he has been spending more time lending legal advice to the neighborhood associations in Dignowity Hill and Denver Heights. As proof of his dedication to the community, he pointed to the opening of his law firm on the near-Eastside in 2010 and service with groups such as San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside.
Shaw said Warrick – and to a lesser extent Toney – are trying to paint him as a political rookie in District 2, someone who wants to shake things up.
“They’re trying to maintain the business status quo in District 2,” Shaw said. “They see me as a newcomer.”
Warrick and Shaw both pledged to stick to their previous campaign themes in the weeks leading up to the runoff. Each candidate said he was working on obtaining a few more endorsements but did not to go into detail. Warrick has been endorsed by two former District 2 Councilmen, Mario Salas and Joe Webb.
Warrick has long based his campaign on the theme of reaching “four zeroes” in District 2: zero vacant lots, zero murders, zero unemployment, and zero stray dogs.
“People think I’ve been doing a very good job,” Warrick said. “Keith Toney has very loyal followers, which I hope to include in my campaign.”
Shaw’s stated priorities, if he is elected, would include fostering greater community involvement in District 2 and advocating measured redevelopment in the area.
“I’m running for the community, not against anything,” Shaw said.
Toney said he hopes Warrick and Shaw get to address other issues he considers important, including local assistance programs for people recently released from prison, improving Martin Luther King Jr. Park, and what he called “real economic development for the Eastside.”
Early voting for the runoff election begins Tuesday, May 30, and ends Tuesday, June 6. The last day for San Antonio residents to register to vote in the runoff is Thursday, May 11.