This story has been updated.

San Antonio City Council on Thursday chose former Councilman Mike Gallagher to represent District 10 while Clayton Perry takes a leave of absence after his alleged hit-and-run car crash last month.

The vote to appoint Gallagher was unanimous and he was sworn in immediately Thursday. He is a former U.S. Air Force colonel who represented the Northeast San Antonio district from 2014 to 2017.

He was one of three candidates considered for the temporary appointment.

Gallagher was first appointed by City Council to represent District 10 in 2014 when Carlton Soules resigned from the seat to run for Bexar County judge. Gallagher was elected to the seat in 2015, winning 81% of the vote.

Gallagher served one full term, choosing not to seek reelection in 2017.

He currently serves as president of the Northern Hills Homeowners Association and president of the Northeast Neighborhood Alliance, which encompasses 86 neighborhood groups across multiple council districts. Gallagher said he doesn’t plan to step down from his other roles while serving on council, but he does plan to decline the council salary.

Several neighborhood leaders from the district spoke on Gallagher’s behalf Thursday, including former District 10 Councilman John Clamp, who stressed the need for a temporary placeholder who already knows the job.

“[This] is not the time for new leadership. This is the time for Mike Gallagher’s proven leadership,” Clamp said.

Gallagher is a close friend of Perry, and the two have been in touch frequently in recent weeks.

The Nov. 6 collision involving Perry prompted the third-term councilman to request a leave of absence. In the wake of the incident, Gallagher wrote to council members asking them to withhold judgment because Perry told him he may have been impacted by new medication the night of the crash.

In his interview with council members Thursday, Gallagher stressed his plans to turn the office back over to Perry as soon as the councilman is ready and retain all current staff in the meantime. Several current staffers, including Perry’s chief of staff Paul Jimenez, worked under Gallagher during his previous tenure.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who served with Gallagher the last time he was on the council, said the severity of Perry’s actions shouldn’t be brushed aside. City Council voted to censure Perry last month, though Nirenberg wanted to go further and ask the councilman to resign.

“I don’t want to understate the seriousness of what’s going on with the vacancy. This is an active criminal investigation,” said Nirenberg on Thursday. “… Are you ready, willing and able to serve however long this vacancy might take place, whether that’s a few months, or whether that’s the entire rest of the term?”

Gallagher said that he would serve as long as needed, but would not run in the upcoming May municipal election. The current City Council members’ terms end in June.

Perry was arrested on a charge of failure to stop and exchange information, a class B misdemeanor, and the San Antonio Police Department said it also plans to send a DWI charge against him to the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office. An arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 12.  

If Perry hasn’t returned in time for the May election, Gallagher said, “it could be that we have to have… some new blood.”  He said he was encouraged by the large number of candidates that filed for the council’s consideration for the temporary appointment.

Gallagher previously served on Neighborhood Code Enforcement Task Force and said his top priorities include supporting code enforcement, in addition to infrastructure, police and fire departments.

He served as a White House aide under President Ronald Reagan, and worked in the Pentagon as Special Assistant for Public Affairs.

City Council also conducted a lengthy interview with Pauline Rubio, a Palo Alto College business professor who has worked for two business organizations in San Antonio.

“Many of us were very impressed with what you have to offer the district, whether an interim appointment, or whether as an elected official at some point in the future,” Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7) told Rubio.

District 10 has supported Democrats for president and governor in recent years, but chosen Republicans in its municipal elections. Perry was the only conservative voice on an otherwise progressive council.

Sandoval said she ultimately supported Gallagher because of his depth of understanding of the role, which would allow City Council to continue working without interruption.

“There is always an opportunity for change and that may not be during the interim appointment, but during an election,” Sandoval said.

Avatar photo

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.