Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5)
Transportation Committee Chair and Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5) said she was disappointed following a briefing with members of the Transportation and Capital Improvements department. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

In this election, I’m voting no on Propositions A, B and C, and I’m asking you to do the same. My reason is clear: I will not turn my back on San Antonio, on my community, or on my children.

These propositions, brought by the leadership of the San Antonio firefighters union, do just that. They turn their back on progress, representative government, and our ability to build the best future we can for our children.

Let’s take them one at a time.

Proposition A would undo generations of work toward equity. It was only 40 years ago that San Antonio went from at-large representation on City Council to single-member district representation. The hard work to get equal representation was started by our parents and grandparents, by the generations who fought against poll taxes and political machines. Proposition A would undo all that hard work. It would turn the clock back to a time when the interests of a few held sway over the entire city.

District 5, which I represent, is just now beginning to see progress on equitable funding to meet its long neglected needs. Last year, my Council colleagues and I agreed that equity funding was the best approach to meet the city’s future. We understand that it benefits every council district when all of its citizens enjoy the same quality of streets and sidewalks, parks and libraries, housing, and drainage infrastructure. Proposition A would make it too easy for a disgruntled few to dismantle the work of deliberative, representative, and focused government.

This proposition alone would destabilize good city government and put San Antonio at a high risk for public investment. The pace of progress we’ve come to rely on, especially in places like District 5 where we’ve begun to seed the potential for strong and lasting growth, would come to a crawl, and I will not turn my back on it.

Proposition B turns its back on our future. It would hamstring future City Councils by limiting its options to choose from the top shelf of potential city managers, the level of manager our citizens deserve. The proposition would limit city manager terms to eight years and cap the salary at 10 times that of the lowest-paid City employee. We don’t place that kind of limit on other professionals, not when we want to attract the best. But that’s not what this is about.

This proposition is unquestionably aimed at our current city manager, but it’s off its own target because it would apply to managers to come, not the present one. It’s troublesome to me that the firefighters union leader, Chris Steele, has himself been in elected union office for 14 years and yet would hold the City’s top executive to a limit he doesn’t respect.

Proposition C is a brazen power grab. It would give the firefighters union the unilateral power to walk away from the negotiating table and hand the process to unelected arbitrators. Again, the proposed amendment turns its back on good governance, built on representative deliberation. What Proposition C says is that your voice doesn’t matter, that the firefighters union leaders can bypass your elected representatives – all of whom are term-limited – and appeal to someone you didn’t elect.

We’ve been waiting for the union to come to the negotiating table, but its answer is to turn the table over and walk away. I can’t vote yes to that.

I won’t turn my back on my children’s future, on representative governance, on the work of generations past. I ask that you not turn your back either and vote no this election.

District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales

Shirley Gonzales

Shirley Gonzales is the Councilwoman for San Antonio District 5.