This article has been updated.

Ana Sandoval, who represents District 7 on the San Antonio City Council, is stepping down from her role less than four months before city elections.

Sandoval, a three-term council member, will start a new job at University Health on Jan. 30, she told reporters Tuesday. She will work in the health system’s research division, according to a staff member in her council office.

Sandoval said her last day as a council member will be Jan. 29.

City Council will appoint a replacement to represent District 7 until voters go to the polls for the May 6 city elections.

On Tuesday afternoon, Rosie Castro announced she is seeking the appointment to complete Sandoval’s term, but pledged she would not run for a full term in May. Castro is a longtime political activist, former City Council candidate and mother to Julián Castro, former San Antonio mayor and HUD Secretary, and U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-San Antonio. 

Sandoval said in a video to constituents that she made her decision to leave City Council after a host of changes in her personal life.

Sandoval became a mother in June. Additionally, she said her role in her own mother’s life had changed after her father died in November 2021.

“Over the past year and a half, my personal responsibilities have grown, and it is now time for me to ensure I give them the attention they need,” Sandoval said in the video.

“As a new mother, I believe it is my responsibility to put the needs of my family first,” she said. “I have made the difficult determination that I cannot do both right now, and that it is in the best interest of both for me to step down.”

Sandoval told reporters she began considering leaving the council for financial reasons before she decided to have a baby. 

San Antonio City Council members make roughly $45,700 per year, as set by a 2015 charter amendment, which increased the pay from $20 per meeting.

“That pay allowed me to be able to be on council as long as I have,” she said.

Sandoval unseated three-term incumbent Cris Medina to win the Westside seat in 2017. So far, she’s the only City Council incumbent to announce that she won’t seek reelection. Filing opens Wednesday.

Tensions around the September budget vote put Sandoval in the spotlight when news surfaced that District 1 Councilman Mario Bravo, whom she once dated, berated her ahead of the vote.

Bravo reportedly lobbed a series of personal attacks against Sandoval, who ultimately faced criticism from environmental activists for not supporting his plan to delay discussion on how to spend surplus CPS Energy revenue.

Following an independent investigation, City Council in November voted to sanction Bravo for his actions.

Sandoval, who has an environmental engineering degree from Stanford University, crafted her own plan to use CPS Energy revenue for long-term climate mitigation projects, which was included in the city’s fiscal year 2023 budget.

“The adoption of the resiliency fund is tremendous,” Sandoval said Tuesday. “We will have a dedicated fund for resiliency and energy efficiency and sustainability efforts that we won’t have to fight for every year in the budget.”

Sandoval said she was thinking about stepping down from City Council before the budget vote, “but when the council adopted the fund, I wanted to make sure I stayed to help with its first allocation,” said Sandoval, who in July took money from her campaign account to pay for residents living without air conditioning to stay in a motel. 

Still, Sandoval told the Express-News that the experience with Bravo contributed to an overall challenging experience on the council. The two were placed on different committees after the incident.

“Some people handle it really well, the different pressures, the deals you have to make, the compromises and the battles,” she told the Express-News. “Some people are fine having those battles and then coming back the next day as though nothing happened. … I’m not one of those people.”

Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Sandoval came to San Antonio with her family as a 1-year-old, graduating from Jefferson High School as its valedictorian. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Stanford and a master’s degree in public health from Harvard University. She also worked in California for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and for VIA Metropolitan Transit as a systems planner.

On City Council, she has focused on climate and air quality and pushed for infrastructure improvements in District 7.

“I am always going to find a way to serve my community. … That’s what I’m going to do now by going to [University Health],” Sandoval said. “I don’t know that elected office is off the table forever.”

In a statement, Mayor Ron Nirenberg called Sandoval’s departure “bittersweet.”

“We will miss her steadfast commitment to our local environment, equitable policies and the general wellbeing of San Antonio’s residents,” he said. “I think I speak for all San Antonians in wishing her and baby Isadora all the best in their next chapter. I am thankful that our community will continue to reap the benefits of her knowledge and experience at University Health.”

City Council recently went through the appointment process to temporarily fill District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry’s seat after his involvement in an alleged hit-and-run car accident.

Applications were submitted to the city clerk, candidates gave brief statements at a Wednesday meeting, and then the council selected three finalists for interviews at the following Thursday meeting. Council’s chosen candidate was sworn in at the same meeting.

Sandoval said she had urged the council to take a similar approach to picking her replacement, selecting someone who wouldn’t run for the seat in May.

This article has been updated to correct the year Sandoval’s father died. He died in November 2021.

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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.