Extended Q&A with City Council District 9 Candidates
After council member Elisa Chan vacated her District 9 seat for a (failed) shot at the Texas Senate, the Mayor and Council ushered in former chair and CEO of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Joe Krier, to fill the temporary void in November. Now, the city is holding a special election on May 10 to more permanently fill the spot—that is until it’s up again in May 2015.
The Current interviewed all four non-incumbent candidates vying for the post (council member Krier was not available for comment). Find out why they’re running, what their priorities are, how they feel Krier has performed in office, who supports the controversial streetcar plan, and how they stack up to their anti-LGBT predecessor when it comes to a vote on the non-discrimination ordinance (An abridged version of this Q&A appeared in the Current’s May 7 issue.) :
Why are you running? It’s an accumulation of things. I came to San Antonio with a lot of volunteering on my back. I knew volunteering was something I was going to do for the rest of my life. So, when I came to UTSA I started a volunteering non-profit and I generated 6,000 hours so far to the community and one of the things I began to realize was the difference that politics has among people at homeless shelters, at detention centers, for people on probation. So, being the person I am, I wanted to make a difference and I started to get involved in politics. I jumped on the Obama campaign and campaigned in New Mexico for him for a week and then I was involved with his campaign here in San Antonio and I also got involved in student government at UTSA and changed my major to political science. I also got an internship with [D4] council member [Rey] Saldaña. It was all those things that pushed me to say ‘maybe I should take it a step further.’ So, when there was an opportunity to run [for council], I took advantage of it.
What are your priorities if elected? There are a lot of issues to be looked at, especially as a councilman, there’s diversity of problems and a diversity of services that government provides, so it’s hard to narrow it down. I can’t say for sure right now these are the things I’m going to focus on primarily because I have to go back to the district and see what they want. But, I was for the NDO and I definitely think it needed to be in the City Charter. Now, the point to be made is where is the transparency, what do people do when they feel like they’re discriminated against. I want to make that system transparent and have people fully understand what the ordinance protects. I’m also really big on education and pushing people to go to college, even when funding may be a problem—I chose not to feel victimized coming from a family without wealth, I said I’m going to make it to college somehow, and if it wasn’t for the Pell Grant it may have been something I could have never done. I also want to work on basic services— getting the roads fixed, making sure sewage lines are properly maintained and making sure they’re done in a timely manner. Because that’s one thing you cannot overlook as a City council member, the primary services the government offers and if those things need to be fixed we need to be on top of them first and foremost.
How do you feel incumbent council member Krier has performed in office? I feel like he’s done an okay job; there are things he’s done that I wouldn’t have done, but that’s going to be with everyone, we’re all different. But I don’t think he’s done a fulfilling or a great job, I don’t think he’s going to reach out to the constituents the way I’m going to reach out to constituents. I think I’m a lot more motivated, a lot more progressive, a lot more energetic and I think what I have to offer is going to be very refreshing to the district as well as the city.
Do you support the streetcar plan? Personally I think it’s a great idea. But I can’t support it if I’m on council because it’s not something that my district supports— at least that’s the sense I get. It’s something that if it does go up for a vote, or in any case where the streetcar petition does go into effect, I would definitely reach out to my constituents and ask what do you really want? And, I have to back my constituents on that one.
Would have voted for the LGBT non-discrimination ordinance? Yes, I’ve been to every single forum I’ve been invited to unlike the other candidates and wasn’t fearful of stating that in front of the people that were against it. I went to the Cornerstone Church, they had a panel, the Christian Chamber of Commerce had a panel and I went in front of them and I stated I do not believe in undermining any particular group of people and say that they’re livelihoods are not more important, or as important as anyone else’s. I tried to put in a way where they could see my reasoning and could agree with.