San Antonio City Council election begins with changes – Axios

Photo illustration of the San Antonio city hall with lines radiating from it.

Photo Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of the City of San Antonio

As the candidate filing period opens today for the May 6 City Council election, new names are jumping into the mix while familiar leaders step down.

Why it matters: The mayor and councilmembers make decisions that affect everything from the potholes on your street to how San Antonio tackles climate change.

What’s happening: Roberto Rios Ortega, 26, plans to file to run in District 1, he tells Axios. He wants to align himself with the council’s progressive wing that includes East Side Councilmember Jalen McKee-Rodriguez and West Side Councilmember Teri Castillo.

  • He said he was motivated to run when he saw other District 1 candidates announce, whom he referred to as more business-friendly. Rios Ortega tells Axios he plans to decline donations from developers and big business influencers.
  • Rios Ortega has experience volunteering for the Texas Organizing Project. He works in customer service for Teledoc, a virtual health care company.

Context: Rios Ortega is the latest to announce a run against District 1 incumbent Mario Bravo, who is seen as vulnerable after he received a vote of no confidence from his colleagues last fall.

  • Educational consultant Sukh Kaur and businessman Jeremy Roberts have already announced plans to challenge Bravo.
  • An independent attorney hired by the city found Bravo violated workplace violence policy when he berated Councilmember Ana Sandoval over a budget disagreement.

The latest: Sandoval, who has represented the Northwest Side for nearly three terms, told the San Antonio Express-News yesterday that she will resign at the end of the month. She will instead work for the University Health System on health equity issues.

  • She is known for her work at the intersection of environmental and health policy.
  • Her decision leaves the District 7 seat wide open. The City Council could appoint an interim member before the election. Rosie Castro, civil rights activist and mother of twin brothers U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro and former Mayor Julián Castro, is interested in temporarily filling Sandoval’s seat, per the Express-News.
  • Sandoval is resigning in part to care for family and for better pay, she told reporters. Her father died in November 2021, leaving her to look after her mother more. She also gave birth to a baby girl in June. Councilmembers earn $45,722 a year, per the city charter.

What they’re saying: “The community deserves somebody who’s going to be focused on this and I can’t do 110% on the job right now with those other demands on my personal life,” Sandoval told reporters. “And that’s not fair to District 7.”

  • Mayor Ron Nirenberg said it was “bittersweet” to learn of Sandoval’s resignation. “We will miss her steadfast commitment to our local environment, equitable policies, and the general wellbeing of San Antonio’s residents,” he said in a statement.

What we’re watching: No one has announced plans to run in District 10 yet, but candidates could be waiting in the wings.

Catch up fast: District 10 Councilmember Clayton Perry returned to his seat last week but still faces charges of driving while intoxicated and failure to stop and give information in connection with a November hit-and-run crash.

  • He continues to ignore questions from reporters about whether he is running for reelection for a fourth and final term.

What’s next: The candidate filing deadline is 5 p.m. Feb. 17.

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