Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff.
Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff will not seek re-election in 2021. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff (Pct. 3) will not seek re-election in 2020.

In a letter published Thursday evening, Wolff thanked Bexar County for allowing him to be its voice and said he would return to the private sector after leaving county government. Wolff previously worked as the chief operating officer of a title insurance company, but said he had no concrete plans for his next job.

Wolff said announcing his intentions 18 months prior to the next election should ensure potential candidates have enough time to build their campaigns. He pledged to stay out of the race and refrain from endorsing a candidate.

“I am amazingly grateful and privileged to serve the folks that have elected me numerous times,” Wolff said. “It is not for me to tell them who their next representative should be. But I wanted to make sure there was plenty of time for those that might be interested to stand up in front of people who elected me and give their pitch to be the next person.”

Wolff was first elected to the commissioners court in 2012. He previously served on San Antonio City Council as the District 9 representative from 2005 to 2008.

He dismissed the idea that he timed his retirement with losing down-ballot support within the Republican party. 

“When you look at local government, if I had my way, all local government would be nonpartisan races,” he said. “Because the stuff we decide is the nuts and bolts of government. Nobody cares about a pothole – they just want the damn thing fixed. It’s not a Republican or Democrat issue.”

Wolff also insisted that his previous DUI charge played no role in his decision to step down.

“I got elected with the DUI,” he said. “That didn’t play into the calculation. I would argue in some ways that — having gone through that process, paid the price the public expects and paying it personally — I make a better representative now because I understand a segment of the community and something we struggle with as a community firsthand.”

He is confident that the historically conservative Precinct 3 voters will elect another Republican, but allowed that there was room for a Democrat to succeed him.

“The only way a Democrat is elected is if Republicans elect a complete idiot in primary,” he said. “The D’s would have to luck into a win in Precinct 3, which does happen.”

During his time as commissioner, Wolff focused on infrastructure and county services – the basic things that constituents want, he said. He also currently serves as the chair of the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO), and said he wants to assist whoever succeeded him there as well.

For now, Wolff said he will take the time after his service to the county to focus on his family and find a place in the private sector; when he was elected to San Antonio City Council in 2005, he gave up a hefty salary, he said. At 54, he estimates he has another 15 years of employment left.

“It’s not the monetary cost that means anything to me, but it’s the family cost, what it means to be under the spotlight every day, and those types of things,” he said. “I miss building things and getting people jobs. While I’ve been able to do a lot in my role as commissioner … I miss the business sector and want to go back and work.”

Sarah Sepeda-Garcia, one of the Democrats running for Precinct 3, said though she may disagree with some of Wolff’s decisions, his years of public service are laudable.

“While bittersweet to many, Kevin’s decision to focus more on his personal life presents an opportunity for the county to usher in a new era in county politics that is more modern, more progressive, and more diverse,” Sepeda-Garcia said in a statement. “We should all thank Kevin, and wish him well in all his future endeavors.”

Wolff said he hopes that enough “good people” raise their hands to run for his seat. He has already gotten phone calls from interested individuals seeking his advice for their own county commissioner campaigns.

“A lot of people run because they think it’s cool and powerful and people treat you nice,” he said. “Great. But the day-to-day job isn’t easy. When you add on top of that the level of scrutiny in anything and everything you do, it takes someone with a really thick skin who doesn’t get their feelings hurt easily to step into this work.”

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.