SASpeakUp logo design by the City of San Antonio.

As San Antonio reaches an inflection point, we have a unique opportunity to lend our voices to how we prioritize resources moving forward. This week, City Manager Sheryl Sculley will propose the Fiscal Year-2017 City budget, a document that will both fund important City services and reflect our community’s priorities.

One of the guiding principles of governance in the United States is that the closer a government is to its people, the more responsive it will be to its residents. This is, of course, contingent on active participation, engagement, and debate.

T.J. Mayes states his budget priorities at a SASpeakUp event at Hardberger Park in August 2015. Photo courtesy of T.J. Mayes.
T.J. Mayes states his budget priorities at a SASpeakUp event at Hardberger Park in August 2015. Photo courtesy of T.J. Mayes.

Civic life in the U.S. seems paralyzed by partisan ideology, dysfunction, and gridlock. This may be true in national politics, but municipal governments function differently, and community members have the power to make their voices heard. I have devoted my professional career to working with two dozen cities, including the City of San Antonio, on a wide variety of issues ranging from ensuring electric reliability to improving transparency, to drafting a City charter, to obtaining funding for water infrastructure projects. Each of these cities and towns are different, but there is a common thread that runs through each of them: Decisions are made by those who show up.

The City of San Antonio’s community budget open houses and hearings are the last pillar of the City’s SASpeakUp campaign, which has revolutionized the way that our government communicates with its residents. The City is proactively seeking budget feedback by going where the people are. A record number of San Antonians participated in the development of the budget, but residents need to speak up again and tell the City what they think of the proposed budget. We owe it to ourselves and our future to proactively engage with our City government.

Last year, I told the City of San Antonio that my budget priorities were expanding public green space and bridging the digital divide. I was beyond pleased that the Fiscal Year 2016 budget included more money for parks and a line item to address internet inequality. This year, I will advocate for improving our streets and maintaining our parks, while fighting against 11th hour efforts to defund our public safety personnel.

No matter your priorities, the next three weeks are your opportunity to let your views be known.

Top image: SASpeakUp logo design by the City of San Antonio.

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T.J. Mayes

T.J. Mayes

T.J. Mayes is a Junior Partner at Phipps Deacon Purnell, PLLC and serves on the board of directors of the San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Awareness and recently served as vice chair of the North...