Facebook / Jada Andrews-Sullivan
On June 8, the City of San Antonio held runoff elections
in three city council races in addition to the mayor's race. Seats for Districts 2, 4 and 6 were still up for grabs after no candidates in these races were able to secure 50% of the vote in May.
At the end of the night, women ended up acquiring all three seats. The result led to the council being made up of six women and five men, making it only the second time
in the history of the city that the council would be women-led.
"I believe that it's gonna be amazing... We as women truly have a different wiring about ourselves, that nurture over nature concept," said Jada Andrews-Sullivan, District 2 councilwoman. "I believe that we will be a force that can bring the city of San Antonio to a full prosperity of things to come."
She is a life-long East Side resident who now has the power to change her community for the better.
Her journey to city council began shortly after then-councilman William Cruz-Shaw left the dias
in January 2019. She describes herself as the type of parent who tells her children to search for the solution to every problem. After addressing the issue with her mother, who told her 'great, there's the problem, now what is the solution?', she was inspired to run for the position.
"This was really one of the most, I won't say easy decisions, but one of the most rewarding decisions that I could have made to set an example for my children," she said.
The journey was not easy for her, but she is hopeful for what is to come.
"I'm just humbly excited to serve my district, I'm thankful for my district putting their trust in another individual who pretty much is not a political figure, has never been in a political realm, but truly to have someone who has lived there and knows all of the issues we face, and I'm looking forward to putting in the work."
Growing up on the East Side, Andrews-Sullivan has fond memories of her childhood.
"[The community] was so family-oriented, community-driven. We had those community leaders, community activists, community forerunners. The footprint of the community was something happy to walk in," she said.
As a child, Andrews-Sullivan participated in the young mademoiselle program at Gates Elementary that taught her how to respect herself and work toward her future.
At Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, she was involved in extracurriculars and educational programs that offered her opportunities to advance herself both personally and academically.
"I got to meet Judge Carmen Kelsey, and for me as a young African-American female to see her wear the justice robe and to sit there and hear her say, 'You can be whatever you decide that you want to be, statistically, if you allow that to determine your future, you are definitely determining your own worth', that resonated with me so much."
She ultimately graduated from Sam Houston High School with honors at the age of 17 after becoming a mother the year before, defying odds set by others who told her she wouldn't achieve much as a teen mother.
Higher Education/Military Enlistment
Just five days after graduating high school, she started her college career at the University of Texas at Austin.
"That was one of the scariest parts of my life. I was a young mother, I was only 17, couldn't even sign my own financial aid papers...determining how to be a mother and go to school in a whole other city was something that truly defined who I would become."
Andrews-Sullivan later joined the Army, citing a better future for her and her child as her motivation. She also took a lesson from her upbringing with her in that journey.
"You find your strength, and what District 2 has truly always instilled [is] that those who truly want to make a difference, do it," she said.
She served as a hospital food specialist, also known as a dietary tech, for four years before being honorably discharged.
Since she enlisted in the military, Andrews-Sullivan did not complete her college education. Her first concept of school was studying to be an attorney, given her love for debating and arguing. However, she ultimately chose to follow her passion and study sports medicine at UT.
"I wanted to be the first African American sports medicine doctor on the Dallas Cowboy sideline, because I knew becoming a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader was not gonna happen for me."
East Side Involvement
Before joining the city council, Andrews-Sullivan has been active in her East Side community in various ways through her involvement in different businesses and organizations, as well as advocacy and church groups.
She is a member of the NAACP, commissioner on the MLK Jr. Commission, parishioner and business/youth entrepreneur mentor at Tree Mount Temple Baptist Church, a licensed notary, a Angeleyes Foundation advocate, a veteran woman's advocate, a regional director of the Southwest/Beta Kappa Chapter President of San Antonio's Alpha Omega Theta Sorority Inc. and even in the cake/bakery industry.
"When I looked at starting to do the things I wanted to do on the East Side...it's truly just finding a place on the schedule. There's 24 hours in a day, and if you just take 30 minutes out of your day, for every hour of the day, you can truly touch a life that you don't even understand how impactful you can be."
Politics wasn't necessarily in the plans for Andrews-Sullivan growing up. Her mother had always had the idea of it for her given how she would debate and argue with her.
"My mom would look at me and say 'can you stop debating me and go debate someone else? You need to be in something to have your voice heard.'"
She thought of politicians as people with nothing to do in their lives but argue and talk about something. However, when she stepped into the realm, she stepped into it with a different mindset, the idea that District 2 is her community and she is going to serve as much as she can.
"When you take out the word politics and put in the word servitude, you get a whole different attitude about what you're doing. It's no longer a political mindset, it's really about serving your community to the best of your ability."
District 2 Issues
Andrews-Sullivan has several issues she plans to address in her first term.
Eco East Development
"For me, it's definitely looking at what impact that development will have on the community as a whole. It's a great idea, great concept, but will it displace even more of a displaced community."
"We have to start looking at how are we going to bring in smart development, progressive but conservative at the same time development. What is that development gonna mean for the community as a whole, and definitely will it impact the legacy homeowners in which we have that live there."
"We have to put our priorities in place of getting those roads that are severely neglected, roads that haven't been touched in over 20 years, getting those on the top priority. The Rittiman and Eisenhower intersection, for example, needs that love, that dedication."
"Also, finding better quality contractors that go in and truly make a difference."
"Truly understanding that District 2 has a different definition of affordable housing is something that has to be conveyed, defined and put into practice. For a long time, I don't think that the idea that our median threshold has been fully taken into account when you look at what we consider affordable housing for San Antonio."
"Working with SAHA, the city and the county to truly combat that as a whole will make a difference in how we do affordable housing."
"I've sat down and spoke with Chief McManus and I specifically wanted to know how we are gonna combat during the summertime when we start seeing our highest threshold of crime that comes about. It's because our youth are not given a different outlet...in their mindset, they're not thinking, 'How is this gonna affect someone else?'"
"Not just policing the problem away, because that's not gonna help. Bringing back our community to police roundup, grab ahold, bring our youth into the fold of understanding that they are worth so much more than anything they have been taught, told, and helping them to find themselves truly identity-wise."
"Building partnerships with local entities that can help to bring in resources that our seniors need."
All of these issues hit close to home for her, as she is a product of the East Side.
"Looking at it from that aspect, you tend to push harder and more for your district. It's truly working from an inside out aspect."
Hopes for First Term
Andrews-Sullivan ran her campaign on the grounds of "accountability, accessibility, full transparency and action." Her team is currently working on a constituent database for the district. It will be helpful to her as she will know who lives in her district and what their concerns are about. It will be taken in real-time through block walks, and it will be travel-friendly, allowing for information to be put in and viewed on-demand.
Her communications director, Jalen McKee Rodriguez, will keep District 2 residents informed through newsletters and social media, but will also be working on hard-copy information that can be distributed to those without internet connection.
"We are truly looking to start making some historical decisions around here, especially with our affordable housing and then our homeless situation. There's a plan that we have in place."
As she is just beginning her first term on council, she hopes to do great things in her time there for the betterment of her community and the city.
"Thank you to my district. I want them to know that I don't take it lightly, and it's not something that I'm looking to just to build my name, but truly grateful that they have given me the opportunity to serve them."
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