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Running off with the Cib and the Strib

Recently, I was able to sit down and ask the district 8 city council candidates a few questions about their campaigns and get a feel for what they had to offer the public interest.

It’s runoff time, and both candidates are making final attempts to get voters out, hoping that after the last ballot is cast, they are named representative for one of the most influential districts in San Antonio.

District 8 is home to Valero, USAA, the medical district — not to mention some pricey real estate — and pretty much all of I-10 running north of Downtown and the 410 loop.

The major difference being touted in previous buzz about this election are the different stances the candidates take on taxes. Yes, the ugliest word in Texas. Taxes.

While Diane Cibrian claims she will lower property taxes (says her big roadside campaign signs), it seems Morris Stribling is trying to take a more realistic approach to the subject, saying if taxes are cut then services will be cut in turn. I’m sure neither candidate wants that.

Both of them clash on environmental stances as well.

Cibrian wants to make one regulatory agency over the aquifer, instead of the “current three” she says. “We know that 10 percent of the aquifer recharge zone sits in within the city limits of San Antonio. Of that 10 percent, the majority is in district 8.”

She says she’s also opposed to impervious cover over the recharge zone.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency web site, “Impervious cover is the amount of land cover in roads, buildings and parking lots,” all of which prevent the ground from absorbing rainwater.

Cibrian says “We need to look comprehensively at impervious cover to ensure that areas are not being over developed, and I can tell you one of the most important things we can do is stop the clear-cutting. When we take out vegetation, and clear-cut huge areas of land, we are essentially damaging our Edward’s Aquifer.”
Stribling says he wants to create a plan that involves capturing runoff water. It sounded like environmentally unsafe spin.

“There’s been a lot of talk about decreasing impervious cover,” Stribling says. “And increasing impervious cover does not necessarily decrease water quality, but it does increase water quantity because you have increased runoff.”

This could be compared to putting up a tarp and catching rainwater off a tar covered roof and then funneling it to your garden. In order for an aquifer to refill, it needs to soak into the ground and go through limestone layers in order to purify the water.

According to an EPS study, “Increased impervious surfaces alter stream hydrology resulting in lower flows during droughts and higher peak flows during floods.” It can also channel pollutants directly into steams, rather than letting them absorb into the soil.

Cibrian and Stribling both have financial backing (Stribling more so) from developers, so to what extent they will protect the aquifer and put business interests second is still a mystery.

One major issue facing any politician lucky enough to win district 8 must face is the problem of growth versus infrastructure, with San Antonio’s highways becoming more clogged up than the arteries of your average McDonald’s patron.

“What I think needs to be done is for the city to sit down as a region and plan out development and sit down with all the entities that consider themselves transportation, the environmental groups, and the developer groups, of course, and the neighborhood groups and plan out what I think should be a 20-year-plan for the development,” Stribling says.

He says he wants to focus on building up the infrastructure (such as highways, fire stations and transportation) with the growth that’s taken place (the main cause of all the traffic problems) with a long-term plan.

Cibrian’s plan differs from that somewhat, saying that synchronizing lights could help alleviate some of the congestion and says her plan will focus on some of the “east to west arteries in the district.” She also wants to create and audit team to keep projects on schedule and on budget, and add stop signs, road bumps and stop lights where necessary, while working closely with TXDOT.

When asked, “what are the top three most important issues for improving the quality of life for San Antonio?”:

Cibrian’s top picks: Public safety, balancing growth/environment and infrastructure.

Stribling’s: Developing a long-term plan for infrastructure, an initiative to make San Antonio more green and healthcare.

After sitting with them, I noticed the largest difference between the two lies within their style and mannerisms. While meeting with each one, it became clear that Cibrian had the most energy, and talked the most, but it felt like Stribling had the most to say and was much more collected.

His answers were clear and concise, while Cibrian spoke passionately and didn’t really give clear answers to a few of my questions.

If you want to protect your green — your pocket book and the environment — then maybe vote for Cibrian. Although her promises could be leading you to false hope, because politicians can often campaign on one thing and then in turn do another (e.g.: “read my lips, no new taxes”). If you want to vote for someone that seems to have a stronger plan but shows more favor toward developers, vote for Stribling.

Also, find out who's backing their campaign here: Municipal Campaign Finance Search.

(Strib photo borrowed from the Walker Report :: Check him out)

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