- Courtesy Photo / VIA Metropolitan Transit
- Additional funding for VIA was one of the issues on Tuesday's ballot.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg's $154 million, four-year plan to retrain 40,000 workers left jobless by the pandemic received approval from 77% of voters as of 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.
A separate measure expanding funding for San Antonio's public transit system received a thumbs up from 68% of voters. That proposal would shift the same 1/8 cent sales tax used to fund the training program to VIA once the four years is up.
Additionally, 73% of voters approved extending the popular Pre-K 4 SA early childhood education program.
“I’m grateful to the San Antonio voting public that they support one another, especially during a time of crisis, that we come together as a team and we’re united behind supporting our neighbors,” Nirenberg told the Express-News at a watch party. “This is an investment in our people. This is an investment in our future.”
Some political experts questioned how much support the initiatives would garner during a high-stakes presidential race when the focus was on the top of the ticket. Others questioned voters' appetite for funding the training initiative and VIA by shifting money away from a popular aquifer protection program.
However, the numbers suggest many were willing to trust city leaders that the aquifer would be protected under the aegis of the San Antonio Water System, which is now expected to take over the groundwater program.
"VIA's brand has always been really good with the public, and people understand the value of public transportation," said political consultant Laura Barberena, a co-manager of the VIA campaign.
Residents also understand the economic value of improving job training during the pandemic's economic downturn, she added.
"They understand that when you create a well-trained workforce it attracts jobs," Barberena said.
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.