Saturday night, Julián Castro’s campaign headquarters was filled with excitement, but very little suspense. Mid-afternoon, Castro campaign manager Christian Archer openly suggested that his candidate might be looking at a mayoral runoff with either Trish DeBerry-Mejia or District 8 Councilwoman Diane Cibrian. Archer indicated that early-voting returns would hold the key to the race, and sure enough, when early-voting results came in at 7:05 p.m. and they showed Castro with a whopping 56-percentof the vote, the room exploded. Castro volunteers hugged each other, some supporters shouted “It’s over!” and a giddy Archer told Castro, via cell phone, that he would be the next mayor of San Antonio.
The victory-party speech most emblematic of the way Castro remade himself for this election came from local businessman Mike Beldon, outgoing Mayor Hardberger’s campaign treasurer before he was Julián’s (just as Archer was Hardberger’s campaign manager), who volunteered that he didn’t know Castro as recently as two years ago. Four years ago, Castro nearly won, with near-universal opposition from the business community. This year, with the support of local movers such as Beldon, Bartell Zachry, Graham Weston, and Randall Mays, he was unbeatable.
QueQue went into election night believing that if DeBerry-Mejia could garner 30 percent of the vote, she might force a runoff. She nearly reached that level, but it didn’t matter, because Cibrian fared so poorly, coming in with a paltry 8 percent, and District 2 Councilwoman Sheila McNeil barely registered at less than 4 percent. Cibrian’s aggressive attacks on DeBerry-Mejia in the campaign’s final weeks didn’t seem to earn Cibrian any discernible shift in the vote.
Castro’s speech struck his familiar campaign theme of wanting to create jobs and grow the city, while hanging on to what he called SA’s unique character and soul.
Outgoing Mayor Phil Hardberger, who relinquishes his gavel to Castro June 1, spoke with the QueQue by phone Saturday evening during the Current’s live online election coverage — produced in partnership with the totally awesome iGoSA.com, 24 Hour Entertainment, NewTek, and the Social Media Club of San Antonio. Sounding pleased with the outcome, Hardberger said he considers the most important piece of his legacy to be “a unified city.”
Varsity squad tryouts
The 11.61 percent of registered voters who bothered to show up for this election (a mere 34,000 people hit the polls on election day) probably already know the outcome. But for those of you who’ve taken a powder following November’s heady days, here’s the rundown:
District 1: Mary Alice Cisneros slid into a second term with 55 percent of the vote, although youthful gay challenger Chris Forbrich put a significant dent (39 percent!) in a politician blessed with what amounts to a vote-minting name in SA.
District 2: Byron “I live in my office” Miller earned 39 percent of the vote — not enough to stave off a runoff with second-place finisher (at 28 percent) Ivy Taylor. Bryant Livingston has encouraged his 4 percent to shift to Ms. Taylor, but the biggest remaining blocks belongs to Dan “It’s the crime, stupid” Martinez, who’s endorsing Miller with his 18 percent, and Ron “the common man” Wright (11 percent).
District 3: Jennifer Ramos ran for reelection unopposed.
District 4: Incumbent Philip Cortez handily defeated his lone challenger.
District 5: Oft-criticized Councilwoman Lourdes Galvan failed to earn even the endorsement of our cousins at the Express-News, and now faces a rematch against David Medina, who trailed her by less than 2 percentage points Saturday.
District 6: Former NISD board member and repeat contender Ray Lopez finally won term-limited Councilwoman Delicia Herrera’s seat from a field of four.
District 7: Despite a campaign designed to portray her successful 2007 challenger, Councilman Justin Rodriguez, as AWOL, former Councilwoman Elena Guajardo barely nipped his heels. Rodriguez won reelection with 72 percent of the vote.
District 8: In a surprise result few predicted, neck-and-neck competitors Reed Williams and Michael Berlanga outperformed E-N endorsee and former Zoning Commissioner Jody Sherrill. They’ll meet again at the ballot box June 13 in their bid to replace outgoing Councilwoman Cibrian.
District 9: Heavy favorite Elisa Chan walked away with the race to replace appointed one-term seat warmer Louis Rowe.
District 10: Wasn’t even close for the three challengers to incumbent John Clamp, who held onto 74 percent of his district’s vote.
The winners of the June 13 runoff elections for Districts 2, 5, and 8 will take office ASAP, joining their colleagues who start their $20/meeting jobs June 1. Get election info at bexar.org/elections.
CPS Energy is seeking to shave 771 megawatts from the city’s electrical usage by 2020. To accomplish that, they need $849 million (give or take a million), which they’ll be seeking at Council this week in the form of slightly heftier utlility bills.
Think of it this way: Instead of building another coal plant, CPS will (with your permission, of course) reduce our energy use by a coal plant’s worth of energy. No pollution, no mess. CPS would like to bill you for this new virtual “plant” through that obtuse little notch on your utility bill called a “fuel surcharge,” which is typically where the bills are padded to accommodate the rollercoastering natural gas prices.
If you are anything like the typical San Antonian, you could expect to pay 24 cents/month this year for your 1,000 kilowatt hours. You’ll cough up a whopping 79 cents per the next time around. ’Course you can cut that back by putting some of your own conservation measures into the mix.
With the money it reaps under the Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan, CPS would implement all manner of energy-efficiency projects, including weatherization of 2,000 homes per year (or more), provision of 3,000 Energy Star appliances (or more) per year, and a$3-million set-aside for home insulation programs per annum. The shift will transform the current all-volunteer weatherization program into a team of professional contractors, said Bruce Evans, CPS’s director of customer solutions and energy delivery.
“We already have some new programs in place for this next year. We want to ramp up the solar rebates as far as the cap — we want to lift the cap,” said Evans, adding that a popular commercial-lighting retrofit program would also be brought back to life under STEP.
And that’s where the QueQue starts to begrudge it all a bit.
The 3.5-percent rate increase approved by Council last year was, we were told, intended to help expand efficiency and renewable rebate programs. The utility set up its solar-rebate and lighting-retrofit programs without the full 5 percent rate increase it had lobbied for, then it allowed the programs to die this year. CPS didn’t come to Council for a rate increase to pay out $276 million to “explore” a proposed nuclear expansion at Bay City. But the power of efficiency? That’s gonna cost us.
CPS’s bait-and-switch may not get an entirely warm reception at Council. District 10’s Clamp expressed extreme skepticism when he spoke with the QueQue a couple weeks back.
“What you’re seeing is a push from a select few to get this throughout San Antonio, to fund these programs,” said Clamp. “And I’m saying, ‘Well, wait a minute, let’s maybe do a one- or two- or three-year program voluntary, education, training. Let’s see what kind of impact that has on our capacity and our usage before we go into a full-fledged rate increase to pay for these things.”
Some blame the Council for delaying the matter till after the election, a move that allowed the programs to drift like a body on the water. Show up at the council chambers by 9 a.m. on Thursday and speak your piece. (It’s Item 6 on the agenda you can pull up at sanantonio.gov.0)
Glow in the park
Speaking of nuclear plants and the uranium that drives ’em: Despite our 33-percent newsroom enhancement (when you line up our news staff, you have to pull the trigger thrice), we’ve been loaded down with Alamocentric procedural gore and glories, and it seems like forever ago that the Goliad Greyhound was motoring up to Austin on a successful quest to wrangle a contested case hearing from TCEQ for Uranium Energy Corporation’s application to mine uranium in the aquifer just north of the historic mission town.
TCEQ recognized several “affected parties”in March, including Craig and LuAnn Duderstadt (who claim UEC’s exploration activities fouled their well water, forcing them to purchase the bottled stuff), Goliad County, the Goliad County Groundwater Conservation District, a Lutheran church, and a volunteer fire department.
On Thursday, whilst your Council is pondering CPS Energy’s shell games, TCEQ will hold a preliminary contested case hearing on the matter at the Goliad Auditorium. You can find the full (and very stuffy, if we do say so) TCEQ announcement on QueBlog, but the citizens’ group Uranium Information at Goliad advises you to attend the preliminary hearing if you’ve been designated an affected person and don’t want to lose your standing. Any other person may also attend this hearing and request to be a party (be prepared to show you’re affected in a specific way not common to the hoi polloi), and the public is welcome to sit in. Get the details at (800) 687-4040.