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Council and Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire. Your answers will appear in our online voter guide and potentially in print in our April 17 issue. You must answer 10 of the following 15 questions. For those questions you choose not to answer please write “No Answer.” You may also address additional issues after question 15. 1) Could the City’s recent ethics reforms be better enforced? Should there be more of a focus on potential conflicts of interest among City Council members as well as City staff? Yes. It is important for city officials to demonstrate to the public that we adhere to our ethics rules. City Councilmembers should face scrutiny, just as city staff members do, when there is a potential conflict of interest. This is why City Councilmembers file statements of personal assets. It is important that city taxpayers know that public officials serve them and not their own interests. 2) What’s your opinion on encouraging economic development and cultural/nature programming via public/private partnerships, especially where public land, such as Hemisfair Park, is concerned? I believe it can be valuable for the city to engage in public/private partnerships, even on public land, in locations or forums where private parties can help maintain the land or can put on cultural or nature programming. The city might not have the resources to put on such programs, whereas a private company could. Public/private partnerships help private companies develop a sense of ownership and a stake in places like Hemisfair Park, which encourages the private parties to attract visitors who might not otherwise come. 3) Should the city establish an independent police monitor to better oversee the San Antonio Police Department? Why or why not? No; I believe that by establishing internal oversight and checks, higher officials within the SAPD can oversee the police force. Establishing an independent police monitor may create an unnecessary layer between the SAPD and the city government, which also oversees the SAPD. 4) Do you support the way the health department currently regulates food trucks? If not, how could the regulations be changed to better serve San Antonians? “No Answer.”
5) How can the City support sustainable transportation options? The City can support sustainable transportation options by working to make public transportation more readily available in currently underserved areas and also by investing in other forms of transportation that could help increase traffic in commercial areas. I do not believe it is sufficient for a city of our size to invest in a single mode of transportation (i.e., focusing all our attention and resources on highways). What is needed is a comprehensive plan that invests in fuel-efficient public transportation that can mitigate traffic problems; allows residents without access to cars to have a safe means of getting around town; and provides modern, integrated links to the rest of the city. 6) What value do you think the arts (visual, performing, literary, etc…) bring to San Antonio? In what ways can the City support local arts organizations and individual artists? The arts bring significant value to San Antonio. I believe there is a correlation between economic growth, human capital and educational development, and the arts in a city. From time to time, the city could host local visual art pieces at public installations; it should continue to contribute money to local performing arts groups. Having a vibrant arts community can attract individuals from around the city and even outside the country, stimulating economic activity. Equally importantly, funding arts programs, especially at schools, can encourage creativity in students. 7) Is it important for the City to strengthen its non-discrimination ordinances to protect LGBT citizens? Why or why not? Yes. I believe the non-discrimination ordinances should be amended to protect LGBT rights. A person’s LGBT status has no reflection on their ability to perform a job any more than race or gender might. 8) Is Animal Care Services doing enough to increase its live-release rate? Is ACS' public-private partnership model is working? If not, what else could be done? When I entered office, I identified District 4 as having one of the worst stray animal problems in the city. But rather than having ACS euthanize the homeless animals that we have picked up through targeted efforts, I have worked with ACS and local animal welfare groups to increase the live-release rate. In this case, it meant advocating for more resources in our annual budget. Our most recent live release rate was 83%, up from 20% just over a year ago. The stray animal problem in our city is the responsibility of owners and residents; owners have to take steps to have pets spayed or neutered (helping prevent birth of potential strays); residents must be proactive in calling ACS when they spot stray animals. We will not achieve a No-Kill
status without the help of our residents, which is why District 4 was the pilot for comprehensive neighborhood sweeps that included door to door education and enforcement. 9) What would you do to address the high vacancy rate in downtown buildings? “No Answer.” 10) Is the City’s million-dollar incentive for the creation of a downtown grocery store appropriate? Why or why not? Is there a better way to bring a grocery store downtown? “No Answer.” 11) How can San Antonio balance economic development with historic preservation? Economic progress is important, but we should not completely lose sight of our history and the way our city developed over time. There is no simple answer to balancing economic development with historic preservation, but it is definitely possible. In downtown, where many historical sites are located, new commercial developers can retrofit older buildings rather than tear them down entirely. Even buildings that are not landmarks, but have historic aesthetic value, can be modified to suit present needs. 12) Do you support union organizers' push for a Tip Integrity Act for the downtown hotel and restaurant industry? Yes. If the hotel or restaurant industry imposes a service charge, then I believe it should indicate the purpose of that service charge and where the charge goes. 13) What is the City’s role in making consumer solar power affordable for residents as well as local businesses? “No Answer.” 14) Is there more the City could do to protect the Edwards Aquifer in terms of building restrictions, funding conservation easements or other means? “No Answer.” 15) What are the most critical components to implementing Pre-K 4 SA? Are there any other opportunities for the City to support education? Perhaps the most challenging aspects of implementing Pre-K 4 SA are locating and securing the facilities to educate the children as well as hiring qualified instructors. For the children to achieve the expected educational gains, it will take time to hire and train the staff. The leadership personnel, i.e. principals and master teachers, at our Pre-K centers will be crucial to the success of the program and to the success of our city as a landmark for high quality early childhood education.
There are certainly other ways the city should support education. It is not enough to give younger children an early start; the city’s high school dropout rate is evidence there is potential for improvement at higher grade levels. I don’t believe the city needs to recreate the wheel in the drop out arena, but I do believe we can better support successful programs that are making a marked difference in our young people lives, i.e. Communities in Schools, Boys and Girls Club, City Year, and successful afterschool programing.
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