This article has been updated.

CPS Energy’s board of trustees has narrowed its list to four remaining applicants in its search for the utility’s next trustee, and local environmental activists are not pleased that their preferred pick did not make the latest cut.

On Monday the publicly owned electric and gas utility announced four finalists: Francine Romero, associate professor and chair of the public administration department at the University of Texas at San Antonio; John Kelly, retired Texas Department of Transportation engineer; Clayton Killinger, retired former executive vice president and chief financial officer of CST Brands; and Denise Hernandez, vice president of development at True Flavors, a catering company.

Local environmental activists told the San Antonio Report Monday they were disappointed to see that Adelita Cantu, an associate professor at UT Health San Antonio’s school of nursing who specializes in community health, did not make the latest cut from 11 applicants to four. Originally 29 applicants submitted their applications, 26 of whom were eligible for consideration.

During a protest outside of CPS Energy Monday, DeeDee Belmares, a San Antonio-based climate organizer with Public Citizen, said she and other environmental activists were hoping to see Cantu become the next trustee because of her public health background. Cantu also has experience working with CPS Energy since she is a member of its citizen’s advisory committee.

“Even though she’s not on the short list, we’re still going to advocate for [Adelita Cantu],” Belmares said. … “We’re not only asking CPS Energy board of trustees to reconsider Cantu, we’re also going to call on city council not to once again rubber stamp CPS Energy’s nominee.”

Belmares said CPS Energy trustees tend to choose business officials over environmental leaders, and that San Antonio’s environment is suffering because of this preference.

The five-member board of trustees is considered a “self-perpetuating board,” meaning it chooses its own replacements. Ed Kelley, the trustee who will be replaced after his second term ends in January, told the San Antonio Report earlier this month that he would in fact like to see a business person take his seat. He and board chair Willis Mackey make up the committee charged with recommending a final application first to the full board, then to the City Council.

Molly Wright, another local activist present at the protest, said she doesn’t feel like the mayor supports the local community and that the board’s choice to cut Cantu shows that he and the other trustees are not listening to constituents.

Last month sources told the San Antonio Report Mayor Ron Nirenberg, an ex officio member of CPS Energy’s board of trustees, has pushed for Romero to become the next trustee.

“I look forward to interviewing the four finalists and sending a strong nominee to City Council,” Nirenberg told the San Antonio Report Monday. “A vibrant, robust CPS Energy board is essential to lead the organization to a dynamic future.”

Belmares, one of several residents who spoke during public comment during the board’s regular meeting Monday, said she and other environmentalists aren’t familiar with Romero, and they hope the city council and CPS Energy’s board of trustees will reconsider Cantu.

CPS Energy is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here. DeeDee Belmares is a member of the San Antonio Report Community Advisory Board.

Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett is the general assignment reporter for the San Antonio Report.