SAN ANTONIO – Proposition A was headed for big defeat Saturday night after early and some Election Day results showed the ballot initiative losing by a margin of 74% against to 26% for.
Called the “San Antonio Justice Charter” by supporters, Prop A would have decriminalized marijuana possession and abortion, expanded the city’s expanded cite-and-release program, created a new “justice director” position, and embedded bans on choke holds and no-knock warrants in the city charter.
The cite-and-release expansion proved to be the most controversial element, with opponents arguing it would increase crime. The proposition would have made it largely mandatory for officers to issue citeable offenses whereas they currently have discretion to cite or arrest.
Act 4 SA Executive Director Ananda Thomas, which led a coalition of groups that got the initiative onto the ballot, said their grassroots effort was not enough to win over big money.
She said that the police union-controlled specific purpose political committee, Protect SA PAC, funded a barrage of negative ads, that she called “lies and the misinformation that were put out there backed by over $2 million. We know at the end of the day, in the long run, the people will always win over big-money interests.”
San Antonio Police Officer Association President Danny Diaz called the voting results “impressive” and credited the community for informing themselves about the measure and defeating it at the polls.
“This wasn’t a party issue. This was a community issue. The work doesn’t stop tonight. The work continues so that we go out into the community so that they understand what we’re doing as police officers for them to make sure they are safe.”
San Antonio Safe PAC, a business group that opposed the proposition, released the following statement:
“San Antonio voters made the right call. Prop A sought to enshrine in our City Charter the exact sorts of measures that brought disastrous consequences to cities like San Francisco, Portland and Austin. The defeat of Prop A is a victory for local families, for local businesses, and or our quality of life. San Antonio is one of America’s unique, great cities and today our citizens professed with a loud and unequivocally clear voice we want to keep it that way. We came a long way in a very short period of time. Just 6 weeks ago a group of dedicated community members came together in an effort to educate voters about what Prop A really meant for San Antonio, and we accomplished just that. Once San Antonians realized Prop A banned arrests for theft up to $750, graffiti vandalism up to $2,500, and for certain simple assault and family violence offenses, they united in opposition and ensured that the safety and security of local families and local businesses remains our top priority.”
The enforceability of the ballot initiative was also in doubt. San Antonio’s city attorney said only the justice director position was enforceable. The rest, he said, went against state law, and the city wouldn’t enforce them even if it passed.
WHAT IS PROPOSITION A? PROP A EXPLAINER
Activists argued that if Prop A were to pass he should enforce the will of the voters.
Six other Texas cities have passed marijuana decriminalization ballot measures, to varying effect, and San Marcos has mandatory cite-and-release, as well.
San Antonio appears to be the first Texas city to attempt to decriminalize abortion with a ballot measure.
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