Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6), the mayor’s most threatening challenger in the May 4 election, will come face to face at several public debates and membership meetings across the City over the next 49 days.
But they won’t be debating as much as Nirenberg did in 2017, when he challenged then-Mayor Ivy Taylor, as Brockhouse pointed out this week. The mayor will not attend a few long-standing forums that have previously hosted incumbent mayors and prominent challengers, including the Nonprofit Council, Alamo Community Group, and at least three others.
“I don’t blame him,” Brockhouse told the Rivard Report on Thursday. “Politically speaking, he’s probably making the right decision. … The normal move is you don’t want to give the challenger the space [to get attention].”
Kelton Morgan, Nirenberg’s campaign manager, said the mayor had to decline some invitations because of scheduling issues.
“In no cases have we canceled or pulled out of anything that was scheduled,” Morgan said. “Just because [a debate] happened two years ago and it didn’t happen this time, that does not indicate everything nefarious.
“The mayor has a job leading the seventh-largest city in the nation,” he said. “Councilman Brockhouse has the luxury of not leading anything.”
While a decreased number of debates could have been predicted, Brockhouse said, he was surprised that the mayor didn’t want to take as many opportunities as he could to reach voters.
“[Nirenberg’s team] believes he’s in a strong enough position that he can afford to cancel,” he said. “I run a district and I run small businesses. I’ve got a family. We’re all busy. … He’s not just canceling on me, he’s canceling on people. He’s canceling on voters.”
Nirenberg has eight confirmed events with Brockhouse so far and at least two that are pending, one of which would be hosted by the Rivard Report. Details are yet to be arranged. As of Friday, Brockhouse has accepted at least 12 invitations to upcoming forums and, at some, he will be the lone candidate onstage.
According to media reports, Taylor and Nirenberg attended more than 30 debates and forums together in 2017. Not all invitations were accepted by both candidates.
Here’s a list of days they’re scheduled to meet (subject to change, and this list will be updated). Not all are formal debates. Some are meetings at which they are both scheduled to speak:
- Saturday morning, March 16, at a meeting hosted by the Northwest Democrats of Bexar County
- Friday, March 22, at KTSA radio’s studio for a broadcast
- Wednesday, March 27, at a Business Coalition luncheon
- Wednesday, April 3, with the Real Estate Council in the morning AND at noon with the “Hospitality Industry” at the Wyndham Riverwalk
- Saturday, April 6, San Antonio Night Live: A Youth Municipal Candidate Forum at the Brick at Blue Star, 6 p.m.
- Sunday, April 7, at COPS Metro Alliance’s Accountability Session, 3 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
- Monday, April 8, with the Northside Neighborhoods for Organized Development at Hardberger Park Urban Ecology Center, 7 p.m.
- Tuesday, April 9, with AARP at Palo Alto College, 11:30 a.m.
- Monday, April 15, TPR live at 12 p.m. AND Northeast Neighborhood Alliance meeting, 10303 Tool Yard, 6:45 p.m.
- Wednesday, April 17, Rivard Report, Spire at St. Paul Square, 8 p.m.
- Thursday, May 2, for a broadcast on KLRN, 7 p.m.
“Ron doesn’t want to defend his record,” Brockhouse said. “He doesn’t want to stand next to me and say what he believes.”
Nirenberg has no problems with standing his record up next to Brockhouse’s, Morgan said, and will continue to work with organizations to schedule more events.
“It’s to the mayor’s benefit to be side by side, because it’s a clear cut choice for voters,” he said.