Members of the City Council’s Governance Committee voted unanimously Friday to recommend former assistant city manager Edward Belmares as a San Antonio Water System board trustee.
The committee sought a new nominee after City Council failed to confirm Robert Potts, a water conservation expert, last month. His nomination drew a split vote when the question of diversity and representation arose. Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3) and others expressed concerns that Potts, a white man, could not adequately address the issues of the predominantly Hispanic South Side. Potts withdrew from consideration for the SAWS board a few days later.
With Potts no longer a candidate, the Governance Committee deliberated for about 25 minutes in a closed executive session over who would fill the lone vacant SAWS board position. They reviewed the candidacies of Belmares, Olufemi Osidele, and James Smyle, who were named as finalists for the SAWS board in July.
The four members of the City Council committee in attendance said they were pleased by the caliber of the applicants and with the recommendation of Belmares for the SAWS board position. Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4) praised Belmares for his dedication to research and preparation.
“That’s what I was most excited about, that you do your homework,” Garcia said. “So we’re expecting you to do your homework. We’re hoping that you will work with the other board members on their strengths and really utilize their strengths and learn from their strengths.”
Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7), who had supported Potts’ candidacy, said she would work to find ways the City could make use of Osidele and Smyle’s water expertise.
Councilman John Courage (D9) acknowledged that the road to filling the last SAWS board position has been difficult and that the Governance Committee can only make recommendations to the full council.
“It’s always up for the Council and its united wisdom to make final choices,” Courage said. “I believe that the choice we’re putting forward right now, Mr. Belmares, is the best person to fill the job from the remaining applicants. To him and all the new members of the SAWS board, I just hope they will pay close attention to the community and the asks and the requests and the needs of the entire community as they serve on the SAWS board.”
Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5) did not attend Friday’s meeting.
If confirmed, Belmares will serve as the southern sector representative on the SAWS board. The full City Council will vote on Belmares’ appointment Sept. 17.