District 6 candidates (from left) Mario Adame, Robert Herrera, Melissa Cabello Havrda, and Andy Greene.
District 6 candidates (from left) Robert Herrera, Mario Adame, Melissa Cabello Havrda, and Andy Greene speak about their campaigns for City Council. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

District 6 City Council candidates pledged Monday to address traffic congestion, support a city homestead exemption, and allow voters to decide whether to rename Enrique Barrera Parkway back to Old Highway 90.

Around 50 people gathered Monday in the Great Northwest Community Improvement Association center to hear the four District 6 candidates speak about issues important to the community. Melissa Cabello Havrda, who ran against Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) in 2017, joined fellow candidates Robert Herrera, Mario Adame, and Andy Greene at the Monday night forum.

Brockhouse formally bade farewell to his City Council seat as he introduced the four people vying to replace him. Brockhouse decided against running for re-election and is challenging Mayor Ron Nirenberg in May for his seat.

“I want to thank you for the high honor of serving District 6,” he said. “I have decided on another path. … Thank you for allowing me to be your representative.”

Havrda lost the 2017 District 6 election in a relatively close race, though she secured the endorsement of outgoing Councilman Ray Lopez (who recently won the special election to serve as Texas House District 125 representative). Now running with endorsements from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, state Sen. José Menéndez, and more, she pledged to make transportation and infrastructure a priority. She also said she wanted to see a vacated convenience store on Tezel Road — a project that past representatives have wrangled with — reimagined as a community space.

“I absolutely support the idea of using that facility for a public purpose,” she said. “The overwhelming response was a community resource center and park police substation. If that’s how you still feel about it, that’s what we’ll do.”

Herrera, who works as a constituent field representative in Congressional District 15, agreed with Havdra’s plan to transform the empty store into a community center. Herrera served on City Council for one term in the 1990s and told audience members he would fight to lower property taxes. Like the other candidates, he said he would let voters decide whether to rename the Enrique Barrera Parkway back to Old Highway 90 but cautioned District 6 residents about the costs to do so.

“Renaming it again is going to cost more taxpayers more money,” he said. “If the people want it changed back, so be it. TxDOT is not going to pay for it. AAMPO is going laugh at you. … It was a City deal, so the City should pay for it. But let’s spend our money wisely where it’s needed.”

Though Greene worked in the District 6 office when then-Councilman Lopez advocated for the name change, he assured residents that he was not involved with the decision and he would accept the community’s choice.

“We need to go with the vote of the people,” he said.

Greene, a certified public accountant, spent nearly 10 years as a senior advisor for infrastructure and budget in the District 6 office. He gained experience and knowledge of City Council from his time there, Greene said, and said he wants to collaborate with VIA Metropolitan Transit to improve transportation in the district.

“I want to work with VIA to obtain more frequent transportation opportunities for mass transit,” he said. “We are single-vehicle people, and I know it’s a hard thing to change our ways, but we have to with another million or so people coming to the San Antonio area in the next 20 years.”

He and the other candidates backed establishing a local homestead exemption, which would give a discount to taxpayers who own a primary residence in Bexar County.

Adame, an after-school program specialist with Northside Independent School District, pointed to other major cities with similar ordinances.

“Other bigger cities can support [a local homestead exemption] without it affecting the general fund,” he said.

Adame also said he wants to help engage youths, bring children up to grade level in their reading, and connect the generation before him and the generation coming of age now. He also proposed giving kids tools for their future earlier on in life.

“San Antonio needs to invest in job training,” he said. “I know we didn’t talk about affordable housing or wages, but [youths] need training. And it needs to start early on.”

Early voting starts April 22 and runs to April 30. Election day is May 4.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.