Editor's Note: Jade Esteban Estrada is the writer of Glitter Political, a series of articles detailing San Antonio's political scene.
It’s early Thursday afternoon when I walk into Jim’s Restaurant on Blanco Road and 410 and spot Andy Greene waving to me from a corner booth.
Block walk-ready, he’s dressed in a seafoam-colored shirt, beige shorts and slightly worn boat shoes. He looks exactly like the smiling campaign photo I’ve seen all over the Northwest side promoting his candidacy for San Antonio’s District 6 council seat. A lightning-like streak of silver hair colors his left eyebrow — something perhaps unapparent unless you meet him in person.
Greene, who turned 59 on May 28 — early voting day — won 35% of the vote in the May 4 general election. His competitor, Melissa Cabello Havrda, an attorney who also ran for the D6 seat in 2017, took 47% of the vote. Since neither won more than 50%, they’re locked in a runoff. And since runoffs mean a reset for the top two candidates, Greene sees this one as a second opportunity to craft a more focused campaign.
Over the past 10 years, Greene, a self-employed CPA, has served as a senior advisor for budget and infrastructure under two very different councilmen. First, there was Ray Lopez, now the industrious Democratic State Representative for District 125. Then came current Councilman Greg Brockhouse, who’s involved in his own runoff — a populist campaign to unseat Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
Shortly after Brockhouse made his February 9 mayoral campaign announcement, Greene cleaned out his field-office desk and entered the council race. The quiet memory of emptying the desk stayed with him for weeks.
“I went back to the field office on Culebra Road a few times for neighborhood meetings that I’d be attending [as a candidate],” he said, “and I got a little wistful thinking, ‘That was my desk and that was where I helped constituents.’”
It was at that desk that Greene developed the skill of “rooting out what the question was” when hearing a constituent’s concerns. Over time, he says he worked with almost every neighborhood in the district.
“I have a unique advantage in that respect,” he added.
Effectively communicating that experience to the electorate is Greene’s immediate challenge. However, he says he learned a few things from Brockhouse that may help his campaign.
“I really love what Councilman Brockhouse did in terms of making sure the community knew what we were doing,” he says. “We’ve been doing it all along, but now the community knows, because he’s very good at making sure that we utilize social media and our e-blasts.”
Though San Antonio council races are non-partisan, Greene says some of the residents on his daily block walks ask him if he’s a Democrat or a Republican. Others have inquired about what church he belongs to and, perhaps most frequently, about the recent airport Chick-fil-A controversy.
When asked if he feels residents understand what non-partisan means he says, “Generally, no.” Though Greene seems happy to explain there are no primaries in a municipal election. These conversations also allow residents the opportunity to get to know him.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t even know that there’s a field office for a council office, or don’t know who their council member is, or only vote in national politics.”
I ask how that makes him feel.
“It really makes me feel angry, in many respects, that people are not more aware of what’s happening,” he says. “They say the [voting] average in San Antonio is 11%. That’s abysmal. I would want everyone who’s a registered voter to get out there and vote. I want to make sure that they have their say. When they don’t have their say, they get what they don’t ask for.”
A week later, I catch up with Greene at Great Northwest Library, an early voting site. As voters get out of their vehicles, they seem to already know who they’re there to support. They offer smiles, nods or polite — though dismissive — waves as campaign staff vie for their attention, open market-style.
When I catch up to Greene on a small hill, a supporter, who appears to be in her late 60s, is telling him that she doesn’t care for dogs or cats.
“My neighbor on this side has dogs, and the neighbor over here has cats!” she says with widening eyes.
In his signature dad-joke style, Greene replies, “Maybe you should get a cat-dog or a dog-cat.”
“My mother,” the woman continues, “always said, ‘Never complain about your neighbors when you live alone.’”
That bit of advice seems to sum up the spirit of what Greene has been striving to preserve throughout 30 years of volunteerism and neighborhood leadership: a sense of district-wide community.
“But you do need to be sure and … try and make that connection,” he says as he greets another approaching supporter.
Greene is hoping to earn as many new voters as he can in this last crucial week.
And he’ll do it his way — one dad joke at a time.
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