This article has been updated.

The names of the five applicants vying for a spot on the San Antonio Water System seven-member board of trustees were posted on a San Antonio City Council committee agenda Friday.

The seat, vacated by Leticia Ozuna following her election to the San Antonio Independent School District school board, has been open since June. Last month city officials extended the original application deadline from Aug. 6 to Aug. 20.

Members of the council’s Governance Committee plan to interview the applicants at their next meeting on Wednesday. Members are Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Chair Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4), Melissa Cabello Havrda (D6), Manny Pelaez (D8), and John Courage (D9).

The selection of SAWS board members has proven contentious in recent years, with ethnic tensions in play during the last SAWS board appointment in August 2020. The city council, which has final approval over board members, was divided over whether Robert Potts, a white South Side resident with an environmental science background could better represent that community than Fernando Reyes, a Mexican American auto manufacturing executive who lived in the Northside gated community the Dominion.

While each trustee represents a specific part of the utility’s service territory, city ordinances don’t require that SAWS trustees actually live in the area they represent. 

Both Potts and Reyes ended up withdrawing, and the City Council confirmed small business owner Ed Belmares. 

This time, applicants are applying for the seat that represents the southeastern quadrant of the SAWS service area.

Last month sources told the San Antonio Report Mayor Ron Nirenberg has been working behind the scenes to steer the appointment process at both CPS Energy and the San Antonio Water System, both of which are in the search process for a new trustee.

Environment and natural resources consultant Jim Smyle said he’s heard Nirenberg wants the SAWS position to go to a qualified Latina. Smyle has been endorsed by the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, where he sits on the board, said Executive Director Annalisa Peace.

Sources speculated the extended application deadline for SAWS was to allow the mayor more time to put forward a choice candidate.

The San Antonio Report had repeatedly requested the final list of SAWS board applicants from the city clerk’s office following the Aug. 20 deadline.

Here are the five applicants for the SAWS board of trustees:

  • Sandi Wolff: director of strategic relations and membership for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, resides in City Council District 2
  • Lawrence “Ren” Waung: exhibition designer and curator, resides in City Council District 3
  • Kristi Garza Villanueva: president and CEO of Tru-Matrix Contracting Services, resides in City Council District 2
  • James “Jim” Smyle: environment and natural resources consultant, resides in City Council District 1
  • Brenda Pacheco: teacher, resides in City Council District 3

Correction: The quadrant that will be represented by the new trustee has been updated to be accurate.

Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett is the general assignment reporter for the San Antonio Report.