Texas

Where candidates in June 5 runoff election stand on policing, homelessness and cleaning up San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO – Five of the San Antonio city council races did not have a clear winner during the May 1 City Election and will be decided in a runoff election on June 5.

The races that did not have a candidate receive more than 50% of the vote on May 1 now move to overtime in the form of a one-on-one runoff election. Those districts include:

  • District 2: Jalen McKee-Rodriguez vs. Jada Andrews-Sullivan

Find out which district you live in here. Early voting for the runoff starts May 24 and ends on June 1.

If you need more information about the candidates before you vote, we’ve compiled their answers to some of our KSAT viewers’ most frequently asked questions during the campaign.

We received more than 400 questions from KSAT viewers and readers for the candidates.

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We chose three of the most commonly asked questions, sent to each candidate and asked them to respond ahead of the May 1 election.

One of the most frequently asked questions by KSAT viewers was whether a candidate was for or against Prop B. We’ve included the candidates’ answers even though that measure was narrowly defeated on May 1.

Below are the unedited responses we received from the candidates who responded to our questions in April.

Treviño, Bravo to go head-to-head in District 1 runoff election

Mario Bravo, Project Manager

Q: Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Bravo: “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community – safe for your kids to walk to school, safe to walk in your neighborhood and parks after dark, and safe in your home. I will support our community’s vision for a holistic approach to safety and crime reduction – an approach that includes not just handcuffs and jail cells, but also investing in crime prevention and implementing community-led restorative justice programs.

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“My priority will be to reward model police officers while holding bad actors accountable. Prop B is just one of many methods being proposed to ensure that we can hold our police officers to the highest standards. The outcome of Prop B will be determined before I take office, and I will respect the will of the voters on that proposition. No matter the outcome, I am committed to holding our police officers to the highest standards in the country.

“Our existing police contract expires this year. That contract includes items that make it difficult for our city to fire bad officers. Below are three items in our current contract that I will not support in a new contract:

  • Writing police disciplinary records in “disappearing ink” which can no longer be used in disciplinary hearings two years after infractions occur

  • An arbitrary 180 day statute of limitations for processing violations

  • Allowing accused officers 48 hours to review evidence used against them before they can be questioned by investigators

“It’s challenging to determine where our current District 1 councilman stands on police reform. Councilman Roberto Treviño voted for the existing police contract but now says that, given another opportunity, he would vote against it. He says ‘defund the police’ but voted to increase their funding.”

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Q: What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Bravo: “We need to change course in how we address homelessness. While we should retain a compassionate approach, our recent patchwork of projects has proven to be ineffective. The data shows that the number of people in San Antonio experiencing homelessness has gone up over the four terms that Roberto Treviño has served in office. It’s surprising that he is asking for a 5th chance to get it right.

“Homelessness is a citywide issue, and our city has many organizations and experienced professionals who work to reduce homelessness in various ways. We need to do a better job of supporting our professionals who work in mental health, drug addiction, shelters, etc. With better communication and coordination, we can find gaps in services, learn where we are duplicating efforts, and explore how the city can best leverage resources to effectively support these professionals so that we can address this challenge more effectively citywide.

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“That will require me to sit at the table with the other council members and work collaboratively to reach consensus, rather than stand outside of City Hall and throw rocks at our city leadership as our current councilman has done. It will also require listening to District 1 neighborhoods and taking their concerns into consideration on how we address homelessness as a community.”

Q: What is your plan to clean up and improve our city — specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Bravo: “We need to get City Hall’s spending priorities straight. I will focus on investing your tax dollars in ways that improve your quality of life at the neighborhood level.

“City Council is currently spending over $40 million remodeling their own council offices but only $6 million to build and repair sidewalks for our entire city of 1.5 million people. At the rate we are going, some of our citizens who have paid property taxes their entire lives will not live long enough to know what it is like to have a sidewalk on their street to walk on. When asked about his support for spending this outrageous amount of your tax dollars on remodeling city council offices, Councilman Treviño said that he had an office window that leaked when it rained.

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“This is a clear mismanagement of your tax dollars. I will invest your tax dollars in ways that reflect your priorities, including fixing roads, and programs to reduce litter and prevent and eradicate graffiti.”

Roberto C. Trevino, Incumbent, architect

Q: Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Trevino: “I am for Proposition B. The ten items that Fix SAPD has brought to the table are relevant requests for our police union contract. Human rights and accountability should be non-negotiable. San Antonio has the worst rate of rehiring fired officers in the country. (The Washington Post) We must do what we can to ensure nobody is allowed to live above the law. Our police have a difficult job, and Proposition B in no way impacts their pay or benefits. Every other major city in Texas has equal or better pay without Chapter 174 that Proposition B seeks to repeal. The proposition was brought forth by petitions signed by community members, and I believe the voters should have a say in the future of our police union contract.”

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Q: What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Trevino: “We have a broken system of support for individuals experiencing homelessness. I successfully requested City-wide outreach teams in this year’s budget. It is the first step in relying on experts to help us solve the problem long-term. Many barriers limit our ability to help these individuals. They are experiencing issues such as trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Yet, San Antonio currently only has 28 detox beds available for all of our residents. Not being able to access detox services means individuals can’t benefit from Haven For Hope and other organizations meant to help. We must instate a housing-first policy that allows us to meet people facing homelessness where they are. Otherwise, we are simply displacing them through abatement and arrests that do nothing to solve the core problem. This places an undue burden on our neighborhoods. We believe in a clean environment across our city. Working with solid waste management, we have developed a strategy for clean neighborhoods and trash pickup/prevention. Our outreach teams will connect people to services available and impact the safety and stability of our community.”

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Q: What is your plan to clean up and improve our city — when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping), and graffiti?

Trevino: “San Antonio is one of the most vibrant cultural destinations in the world. Residents value and treasure the beauty of our city. There is more we can do to limit damaging behavior – such as littering and graffiti. First, we can increase bulk item pickups throughout the city to help curb dumping. I firmly believe if residents are given more options for legally dumping items, they will make the right decision. Second, we must invest more into the arts. When COVID-19 hit San Antonio, arts funding was the first to be cut. If we do not promote creative outlets for our residents, graffiti and other illegal activity will permeate. Just like nature, art will always find a way to overcome barriers. Therefore, we must make room for art, treasure it, and promote it within our youth.”

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Incumbent Andrews-Sullivan, McKee-Rodriguez to go head-to-head in June 5 runoff (KSAT)

Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, Teacher

Q: Are you for or against Prop B and why?

McKee-Rodriguez: “I am supportive of Proposition B and believe it will be a means to mend police-community relations. Our City deserves good faith negotiations between the City and SAPD, but the union has leveraged loopholes to escape any meaningful reforms and accountability. For example, even if the city negotiates in good faith, the union can refuse any changes and keep their current contract by invoking the 8 year long evergreen clause and wait for new Councilmembers. By Voting Yes on Proposition B, the City will have the opportunity to negotiate better pay, better benefits, and ensure fired officers stay fired.

Q: What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio

McKee-Rodriguez: “We need creative solutions that recognize the complexities of homelessness. My plans include the purchase of a vacant hotel to be used as temporary and emergency shelter for those seeking shelter. In these hotels, we must ensure access to mental healthcare services and drug counseling. We must also increase access to quality jobs, affordable and sustainable housing, and mental healthcare access across the city.

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Q: What is your plan to clean up and improve our city — specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

McKee-Rodriguez: “We must increase the frequency of city services, such as street sweepers. I will advocate for major drainage improvements in the bond program to reduce the effects of flooding that caused increased damage to our roads, look for ways to reduce infrastructure improvement costs so more street improvement projects can be completed each year, and increase access to opportunities for young people. Young people have little to no access to recreational activities and find alternative ways to keep themselves busy, sometimes through graffiti. The establishment of an ‘Art Park’ or graffiti wall would provide a fun, creative solution in addition to many of the long-term solutions that are needed.”

Jada Andrews-Sullivan, Incumbent

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Did not respond.

Viagran, Uresti head to runoff in District 3 race

Tomas Uresti, Self-employed

Q: Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Uresti: “Not in favor reasons being:

“Removing collective bargaining affects the entire families of the employees and takes away the ability to set ground rules across the board for employees so no one person or rank is favored. When it comes to reform it should be done by SAPD themselves. A plan of action needs to be brought before city council and if accepted then whatever funding is needed if any then council sees that if moves forward. In the case that results are seen, city council would need to bring in an outside source to implement one. I don’t believe the entire force should be penalized because of a few bad actors.”

Q: What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Uresti: “Taking city owned facilities or obtaining them and renovating to adhere the housing needs of the homeless. Within these facilities assessments of possible mental health, substance abuse or other possible causes keeping individuals from obtaining their own housing be assessed getting assistance that will hopefully help them to get back on track. In some cases it could be nothing but someone just falling on hard times and possible job training to help an individual.”

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Q: What is your plan to clean up and improve our city — specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Uresti: “Many individuals have lost employment to the pandemic. Opening job opportunities in these areas would help both those in need and help the city catch up on the back log of repairs and cleanups needed. Harsher punishments on those in violation of these city ordinances and making the public aware of these changes being made.”

Phyllis Viagran, Trainer at Oats Senior Planet

Q: Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Viagran: “I am against Proposition B. I do not believe we should take collective bargaining away from workers in unions or associations. We need representatives from the city and from the police department, chosen by SAPOA, to have the ability to come to the table and negotiate. I think we can get more accountability using this process. I was quoted by the San Antonio Express-News on this particular issue: ‘Reforming officer discipline, she notes, has taken center stage in the current round of contract negotiations between the city and the police union…”I think we can iron those things out at the bargaining table,” Viagran said.’”

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Q: What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio

Viagran: “When we speak about homelessness, we need to understand it has many different forms: from those living under bridges to multiple families all living in one house to a single mother couch surfing. There is no one fix all solution and it is going to take a national, state, and community collaborative approach. The City needs to work in coordination with other departments and local nonprofits and organizations to uplift and help those experiencing homelessness. We need a robust ID recovery program as well as coordinated needle exchange efforts.”

Q: What is your plan to clean up and improve our city — specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Viagran: “We need to ensure that infrastructure improvement projects from the 2020 bond are completed as promised. Looking at the 2022 bond, we need to work to incorporate a Best Value – Dig Once policy, which aims to reduce over excavation of infrastructure projects by coordinating city and utility companies’ efforts. When it comes to litter dumping, we need more dial-a-trailer options and stronger code enforcement. For graffiti, the City must work with the police to identify if the graffiti is gang tagging or just a graffiti artist and proceed accordingly. We must continue to fund city programs that assist with graffiti clean-up so that home and business owners aren’t left with paying the bill when their properties are vandalized.”

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Teri Castillo, Rudy Lopez move to runoff election for San Antonio City Council District 5

Teri Castillo, Substitute teacher

Q: Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Castillo: “I support Fix SAPD and their work to pass Prop B. The San Antonio Police Department contract affects all constituents in our city, and the voice of the people must be heard in that regard. When the police department identifies an officer who is unfit for the position, but then SAPOA forces the department to retain that officer, it is clearly not just the police department that is impacted by the decision. Constituents are also now subjected to an unfit and likely dangerous individual who has abrogated their duty to protect the community. This is why I believe it is important for our city government to explore alternative measures that provide accountability on officers that abuse their positions. The passage of Prop B would mark a necessary change for the better for the welfare of our citizens.”

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Q: What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Castillo: “There are many ways that we can fight to house residents of District 5. We need to protect renters through empowering tenant unions and prevent flurries of pandemic evictions through city resolution. We need to inaugurate community land trusts – a powerful legacy of Senator Bernie Sanders in Burlington, Vermont, the city with the most CLTs in the nation – in District 5, which will halt and possibly even reverse gentrification, one of the primary drivers towards the lack of affordable, accessible housing in our area. Indeed, my campaign is founded on the idea of housing-first policy – we should always move to house whenever possible, much as was done recently by Austin City Councilman Greg Casar when he refashioned an unused hotel for that express purpose. There are many tools at our disposal to aid the unhoused, and we need a councilwoman who will act boldly and comprehensively on this front.”

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Q: What is your plan to clean up and improve our city — specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Castillo: “Infrastructure is key to the safety and success of our community. Many District 5 roads are in a state of disrepair, and we must ensure bond funds are used to address the needs of our established communities.

“District 5 also has a litter problem. It is time for many of our unused public spaces, especially those with the most egregious litter, to be repurposed into green spaces and parks for the recreation of our residents. Respect for our neighborhoods is a District 5 value, and I will fight to make sure that plans and public money can give these values physical form for the enjoyment of our families and neighbors.”

Rudy Lopez, Retired

Q: Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Lopez: “I am against Prop B. As a proud union member, I strongly believe in collective bargaining for city employees, especially police officers. The city and the police need to come together to decide what best serves both the SAPD and the citizens of San Antonio regarding benefits, pay and retirement.

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“However, the issues that I believe need to be addressed are the selection of the arbitrator and the 180-day rule, which lets officers get away with offenses that are hideous, disgusting, and completely unbecoming of someone we place our trust to protect our communities. I believe that these two concerns could be negotiated at the table.”

Q: What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Lopez: “Firstly, we as a community need to prevent homelessness by addressing the cause before a person becomes homeless. Many people in the homeless community are veterans, a completely unacceptable reality.

“We must do our best to locate our veterans and provide them with local and government assistance immediately. One homeless veteran is far too many. We need to protect those most vulnerable, especially our seniors, from predatory developers and ensure people are paid fairly for their property or and never forced to leave their home. It is also critical that developers are building quality, affordable housing throughout District 5 and not simply building apartment complexes that destroy the culture of our community.

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“Secondly, we need make sure that citizens are educated about available tax breaks and are taking advantage of them. We must freeze taxes for our legacy and generational homeowners so that they can stay in their homes and provide programs that allow them to improve their property if it needs repairs.

“Finally, for those who are already homeless, we must provide training and educational services so that they can begin to help themselves. We should partner with local businesses who need employees are are willing to help people get a second chance at a normal life. I strongly believe in the adage of teaching a person to fish so they can feed themselves for life.”

Q: What is your plan to clean up and improve our city — specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Lopez: “District 5 has numerous infrastructure issues which need addressed immediately. Roads need to be repaired or completely reconstructed, sidewalks must be installed to protect pedestrians, and provide additional streetlights to improve safety and prevent crime in community. We should make all these improvements using the equity model.

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“For litterers and graffiti violators, those who are caught fined heavily. We can install recording devices in areas where community members inform us have the most consistent issues. This can catch not only illegal graffiti and dumping, but also other crimes prevalent in the community.

“Graffiti needs to need addressed immediately. In my eight years leading a neighborhood association, we successfully reduced instances of graffiti by not only encouraging our members to call 311 but also by holding graffiti cleanup events. By removing graffiti quickly, it discouraged additional graffiti.

“To prevent illegal dumping, we need to educate the community about the free dumping sites located throughout the city. Furthermore, we can work with neighborhood associations to organize Dial-a-Trailer events which provide residents an opportunity to dispose of bulky items in their community”

San Antonio City Council District 9 heads to a runoff election between John Courage and Patrick Von Dohlen. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.)

John Courage, Incumbent, Former teacher

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Q: Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Courage: “Prop B was initiated by a citizens petition to change the city charter to eliminate Sec 174 and the Police unions authority to collectively bargain. The city is in the process of negotiating a new police contract at this time. I don’t think it is appropriate for council members to express their support or opposition to prop B as we are obligated to negotiate in good faith with the police union. This issue was initiated by members of the public not the city council therefore I believe the voters need to vote based on their views and understanding and not the opinions of politicians.”

Q: What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Courage: “San Antonio City Council has committed $40 million to address homelessness in San Antonio this year. There are about 3,000 identified homeless people in our city.

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“Many suffer from mental health issues as well as alcohol and drug addiction. For these people we need to properly allocate services to address these conditions. For many others we need to find them affordable housing and job training assistance.”

Q: What is your plan to clean up and improve our city — specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Courage: “I have seen the trash and graffiti in District 9 and across the city.

“I recognize that most of that trash and graffiti is present on our major traffic arteries, specifically along Hwy 281, Loop 1604, Loop 410, Wuzbach Parkway and Blanco Road. All of these roads are TXDOT controlled and managed. It really is the Texas Department of Transportation’s responsibility to keep those roads cleaned and free from graffiti. TXDOT does a very poor job of managing these responsibilities. Many other city streets are not as clean as they should be. The city Department of Public Works does street sweeping and graffiti mitigation on a regular schedule or when notified through 311 calls that identify a street or graffiti conditions warrant immediate service.

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“Illegal dumping is still a problem in some parts of the city and we need the public’s help in addressing this by calling 312 snd informing us of illegal dumping. If you see something, say something. Realistically it is the inconsiderate behavior of individuals that must improve to make San Antonio a cleaner city.”

Patrick Von Dohlen, Self-employed financial planner

Q: Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Von Dohlen: “Against Prop B. I fully support all our brave first responders and have been actively campaigning against Prop B. I will vote NO on this issue on the May ballot because I believe police officers have the right to freely associate and collectively bargain in good faith and by state statute. This proposition, if passed, would be a terrible blow to our officers who seek to protect & serve our community. Our goal should be to continue to attract, recruit, train and retain quality officers so they may protect and serve us with the best equipment available. Prop B does not address accountability of officers. Prop B will reduce or defund the police yet Prop A will give a blank check to Council to fund many different types of bonds. Against Prop A as well.”

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Q: What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Von Dohlen: “We need to do everything we can to lessen the number of people experiencing homelessness in SA. The city council must return to its primary goal of providing core services and making our city a safe place to live and work. It is irresponsible to pursue efforts that result in unnecessary taxation on residents including pet projects like PreK4SA, affordable housing and unproven ideas like CAAP. In addition, I believe we need to work with faith-based community and non-profit organizations to more effectively reach and help our vulnerable residents, including senior citizens and others in need, instead of growing the local government to take on this important social work.”

Q: What is your plan to clean up and improve our city — specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

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Von Dohlen: “A high quality of life in our district and throughout the city is integral. I will be proactive on this issue and will encourage residents to be civically engaged including voter participation, service on city boards and commissions as well as service to faith-based organizations. All are elements of being a good neighbor. I certainly hope to encourage community involvement because it promotes patriotism, solidifies free market privatization and leads all toward being good Samaritans. As councilman, my priorities will be to improve the quality of life in D9 through efforts based on equal-based budgeting between districts (not equity-based), smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom thereby supporting small business as the backbone of our economy and enabling D9 to be the economic engine for San Antonio.”

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Click here to see all of the election results from May 1 in Bexar County and the surrounding areas.

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Read also: Prop B fails, Nirenberg reelected, 5 council races head to runoff after record-setting election in San Antonio

Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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