Council candidates discuss the mean streets of District 9
| Kevin Wolff (Photo by Lisa Sorg)
| Weston Martinez
Weston Martinez is a manager at SBC and president of Harvest Fellowship Community Church. Will he seek higher office after City Council? The former bull-riding champion says "Absolutely not. We prayed long and hard on this decision. I'm not even looking to get re-elected, I'm looking to do what's right."
For the full interview, go to sacurrent.com.
The nitty gritty on taxes and street maintenance
Current: What are people thinking about in District 9?
Kevin Wolff: Taxes and streets. They want the Prop 3 tax freeze for the seniors and disabled enacted. And, while I might have some particular issues with the way the legislation has been written, as a quote unquote fiscal conservative I'm for less taxing.
Where do you take issue with Prop 3?
KW: While it may help the disabled community more effectively than caps have in the past, the number of folks that are going to benefit is pretty small. If you look at what it might cost the City over the next 10 years, the figures are something like $14 or $15 million - that's a nit on a $1.5 billion budget. It's probably bad policy, but good politics.
How would you approach street maintenance?
KW: When the City builds a new road, it's an average of 13 years before they do any maintenance. One of my initiatives is to place $5 million a year, over the next four years, into the maintenance portion of the public works budget.
Where would those funds come from?
KW: This year $19 million has been allocated for 5,000 miles of streets. Compare that to Community Initiatives, which has a $129 million budget. There are a lot of good things in the Community Initiatives, but there are also some things that I don't think we should be spending money on relative to street maintenance.
How would you protect the aquifer?
KW: Only 6 percent of the recharge zone is in San Antonio. So, if we want to protect our sole source of water at the level that affects the entire area, then we better get busy trying to figure out how to make a regional authority that truly has the power to regulate how things are done. And that you've got to do through the legislature.
How can City Council work with the State Legislature?
KW: All politics, all government is local. Here are the questions I get: What can you do for education? Can you stop toll roads? Can you make sure the interchange at 1604 and 281 is built? Council has no control over `those things`, but what they can do is act as the champion, with the state legislators, federal government, and school district.
Bull riders do it with integrity
Current: What are the top issues in District 9?
Weston Martinez: The first issue is accountability. My wife and I got together a prayer and accountability group, to hold us accountable as individuals. Good people get elected to City Hall every day, but if they don't want to be held accountable, they'll make mistakes.
How do you build a culture of accountability?
WM: We need a sense of teamwork down in City Hall. District 9 can no longer be an island, there needs to be more disclosure.
How would you do that?
WM: One idea I have is allowing citizens to hear the meetings, by simulcasting them over the Internet so they don't have to watch Channel 21.
Do you support Prop 3?
WM: We've got to provide smart tax relief to qualified elderly and disabled, I wholly support prop 3.
What will it cost the city?
WM: Until the dust settles, I don't think there's going to be a number. Legislators are looking at limiting the valuation process to a maximum 5 percent each year, I support that, and I think you should only get hit with the maximum twice in six years.
What about traffic in District 9?
WM: We've got to make transportation decisions that make sense. TransGuide can synchronize all the traffic lights in San Antonio. That would decrease emissions by approximately 15 percent overall and increase traffic efficiency by 15 percent. In district 9, we need a viable option to 281 - if we synchronize the lights on San Pedro, people could use that to get to work.
How much would that cost?
WM: If we implemented it in the entire city, $10 million. I would not be in favor of doing it citywide, initially. We need to act strategically so that it is implemented correctly.
Where would those dollars come from?
WM: There are several things in place - the Advanced Transportation District for one. This isn't just a benefit for San Antonio, it also benefits TxDot. So, different groups are going to be called on the carpet and shown how it benefits all of us. •