This article has been updated.

Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai gaveled in his first Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday, marking the county’s first change in leadership in more than two decades.

Sakai replaces Nelson Wolff, a fellow Democrat who held the role from 2001 to 2022.

“This is my first meeting, and the guy that was here was here for quite a while, so it will probably take a little bit of time for me to kind of get my rhythm and figure things out,” said Sakai, a former judge in the 225th District Court who was sworn in before friends, family and colleagues on New Year’s Day.

Sakai, who in November defeated Republican Trish DeBerry with roughly 57% of the vote, ran on a promise to take better care of Bexar County’s youth, a goal he and his wife, Rachel Dias-Sakai, have shared for decades

“Civility and respect will be the hallmark of this court,” Sakai said. “We will pay close attention to what our constituents have to say, respect their opinion, even if we might disagree.”

Sakai will oversee a group of commissioners whose time on the court predates him.

Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4), who was elected in 2014, and Commissioner  Justin Rodriguez (Pct. 2), appointed to the court in 2019, were sworn in for another four-year term Tuesday by Judge Ron Rangel of the 379th District Court. Commissioner Rebeca Clay Flores (Pct. 1) was elected in 2020, and Commissioner Grant Moody (Pct. 3), who was elected in November to serve the remainder of former Commissioner DeBerry’s term, was sworn in later that month.

“As we start this new administration, I want to ask my fellow commissioners to think about what we can do better to serve our constituents,” Sakai said as he opened Tuesday’s meeting. “What improvements can we make to the process? Can we streamline what we do and make it easier for everyone to understand what our priorities are?”

Sakai mentioned supporting educational opportunities and business growth, expanding infrastructure and connectivity, and promoting better health care options.

Calvert gave a roughly 10-minute speech laying out goals for the county in his next term. He called for the county to do a better job fighting crime, preparing for natural disasters, competing on a global scale and improving equity. 

“For too long a cloud has hovered over Bexar County’s  fairness,” said Calvert. “… This is the court that will blast the sunlight through those clouds and build a community that respects our ability to do what is right.”

Rodriguez, who served in the Texas Legislature before joining the court, thanked his family and staff and welcomed the court’s new members. 

Precinct 2 County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez is sworn in on Tuesday.
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez is sworn in for another four-year-term on Tuesday. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

“I know we’re going to work well together, and I look forward to that,” Rodriguez said. 

Moody, the court’s lone Republican, echoed the calls for a collaborative work environment. 

“As I said many times, there’s going to be issues we disagree on, and our way forward is to disagree without being disagreeable,” Moody said.

Moody also  introduced new members of his staff at Tuesday’s meeting: Paul Jimenez, who previously served as chief of staff to San Antonio City Councilman Clayton Perry in District 10, is chief of staff and Misty Spears, who ran unsuccessfully for Bexar County District Clerk, is Precinct 3’s director of constituent services. 

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Andrea Drusch

Andrea Drusch writes about local government for the San Antonio Report. She's covered politics in Washington, D.C., and Texas for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, National Journal and Politico.