Justin Rodriguez, 34, graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School and worked as a juvenile prosecutor for the Bexar County District Attorney’s office. He subsequently won election to the SAISD Board of Education and was chair of the school board’s government affairs committee and student advisory panel. He was the lone council member to vote against the digital-billboard pilot program and City Manager Sheryl Sculley’s pay raise and separation clause.
Rodriguez opposes the sale or lease of “icons” such as Market Square, and believe that publicly funded amenities such as parks and libraries shouldn’t be seen as “money-makers.” He favors the development of Bus Rapid Transit and options including a sales tax for light rail. He wouldn’t cut basic public-safety services during a budget crunch, he says, and he pledges to hold SAWS accountable for preserving the Edwards Aquifer.
1. Expansion of the South Texas Project nuclear plant I believe there are still too many unknown variables to commit to such a massive undertaking. In particular, I have long been skeptical of the real financial commitment required to develop additional nuclear capabilities. It seems that the capital requirements increase every day and there is still no realistic projections on how further investment in nuclear will impact the ratepayer both in the short and long term. We have to commit to a diverse energy portfolio that includes investment in wind, solar, and natural gas. We also must redouble our efforts in the area of energy conservation.
6. Economic development I believe our strengths continue to be the hospitality industry, military training, bio-medical, and service. We need to diversify our economy by bringing in more high-paying jobs in the technology and financial sectors. I would make a concerted effort to allocate resources through the Economic Development department to recruit more opportunities for our citizens. We also are currently making an effort to create green jobs as part of the Mayor’s Mission Verde plan.
Elena Guajardo, 56, is a graduate of the University of Texas, with a Master’s degree in social work from Our Lady of the Lake University. After a long career with Southwestern Bell, Guajardo devoted herself to social work before winning election to City Council in 2005. She served one term, but lost her re-election bid to incumbent Justin Rodriguez.
Guajardo says that the “innovative, out-of-the-box thinking” that led to the development of the Municipal Golf Assocation nonprofit that is taking over the public courses needs to be applied to public amenities such as Market Square. She would like the City to look to Houston, e.g., for tips on improving its unconstitutional Parade Ordinance, and give priority to San Antonio firms seeking publicly funded contracts.
3. Public transit Recently there was a restructuring of the transportation authority aimed at creating less duplication and overlap among the entities that tackle the issues of transportation. In addition to large scale, long-term planning and solutions such as light rail, we need to consider small scale, short-term solutions. For instance, we presently don’t offer an express bus from Bandera at 1604 all the way into downtown. During my term on council, VIA only offered service out to Mainland and Bandera. I was able to help facilitate the creation of a community friendly bus route all the way to 1604. Now, we need an express route that gets these riders directly into downtown. The expansion can be funded by passengers who would participate in more rider-friendly routes.
9. SAWS’ water development and conservation Because of the efforts of the San Antonio Water System, San Antonio is a national leader in water conservation. Despite a population increase of 50 percent, San Antonio uses the same amount of water it did 20 years ago. As a result, we have saved $550 million by not having to acquire new water resource, and our rates have stayed low. We are very fortunate in San Antonio that the Edwards Aquifer provides us with an extremely pure water source. Anything we do to limit its absorption or create impurities is a disservice to the health of our community. Scientific research tells us that impervious cover over 15 percent can endanger the Aquifer. Sadly, we do not know what the total impervious cover of the Aquifer is today nor is there a comprehensive plan. This is a conversation what we should be holding at city, county and regional level. There is current program that uses sales tax money to buy undeveloped land over the Edwards Aquifer and its tributaries and I would like to see this program continued.
Robert Garibay, 18, is a student at Northwest Vista College who was inspired by the 2008 presidential election and decided to make a bid for City Council. This is his first political campaign.
Garibay compensates for some lack of detail in his answers with enthusiasm and a focus on basic services. He would like to see transportation issues addressed with a mix of solutions, including a HOV lanes, road building, and light rail. His economic-development priorities include green jobs, infrastructure investment, and support for small businesses. He opposes the expansion of the digital-billboard pilot program.
2. Mission Verde I support Mayor Hardberger’s Mission Verde initiative in its entirety. I think the most critical steps council must take in order to successfully implement it is Accountability and Leadership. We need someone on council who is going to provide the leadership to get it moving forward and we need someone on council who can be accountable for its progress. It will be critical to provide this and I will be someone on council(If elected) who will provide the leadership and accountability necessary in order to get Mission Verde well on its way.
7. The City Auditor and transparency The next council needs to get together and look at the way we choose a city auditor. My recommendation would be to keep what it states in the City charter in regards to leaving it up to the Council to hire a City Auditor, but we need to change the leverage the auditor has. I think that we need to have more accountability and transparency at City Hall, and we can do that by providing a lot more information to the public, and continue to keep the public informed on major issues.