The Exit Interview with the Rivard Report with Iris Dimmick, Rey Saldaña (D4), and Cruz Shaw at Dor?ol.
The Exit Interview with (from left) Rivard Report senior reporter Iris Dimmick, Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4), and former District 2 Councilman Cruz Shaw at Dor?ol Distilling Co. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Rey Saldaña is approaching the end of an eight-year City Council tenure, the maximum the city charter allows. William “Cruz” Shaw’s stint was much shorter. Both men shared their insights into the workings of city government Thursday.

The conversation at Dor?ol Distilling Co. was moderated by Rivard Report senior reporter Iris Dimmick, who has covered the City leaders during their terms at City Hall.

Saldaña and Shaw’s exit interview comes months after Shaw stepped down from his District 2 seat before his term ended and as Saldaña’s eight years representing District 4 winds down.

As speculation swirled about his next steps, Saldaña, who was elected to his seat in 2011, announced in December he would step away from elected office to work for the education advocacy nonprofit Raise Your Hand Texas.

Specifically discussing his ambition to eventually seek the mayor’s office, Saldaña said he is looking forward to his transition into a full-time community engagement role with the nonprofit – while also enjoying time with his months-old son, Eli.

“If I never go back to office because [my son] is my priority, I’ll do that,” he said.

Shaw, meanwhile, said he has found his calling as an associate judge for a State district court in Bexar County, where his work focuses on juvenile justice. He reflected on a year-and-a-half spell on the Council in which he was “miserable.”

“I tested the water” of City Council, said Shaw, “and I hated it.”

Shaw recounted his frustrations with the day-to-day operational slog of running a City Council office as well as a procedural approach to governance that stretched the role of the Council according to his interpretation of the City Charter.

Shaw said, for example, that excessive committee meetings encumbered his ability to do his job as a Councilman as well as keep his private law practice running smoothly.

“I just think we’ve turned it into a full-time job, and it doesn’t have to be,” Shaw said of the City Council role.

The dynamics of City Hall have changed during Saldaña’s eight-year tenure, as mayoral candidate Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) has sharply criticized former City Manager Sheryl Sculley and Mayor Ron Nirenberg. Saldaña said when he began as a Councilman there was an unspoken rule against calling out your colleagues in the media.

“Now we air our dirty laundry for everyone to see,” he said.

Shaw’s appointed replacement, Art Hall, will serve out his interim role on the dais until a winning District 2 candidate is sworn in after the May City election concludes.

Vying for the seat are Joseph Powell, Jada Andrews-Sullivan, Richard Ramey, Keith Toney, Selana Santibanez Guipzot, Denise Gutierrez-Homer, Walter Perry Sr., and Ruben Arciniega. The district covers the East Side of San Antonio and stretches up to a swath of the Northeast part of the City.

In the running to replace Saldaña are Johnny Arredondo, Samantha “Sami” Sanchez, Genevieve Trinidad, Adriana Rocha Garcia, and Joel Mendoza. District 4 includes much of the South Side and some of West San Antonio.

The election takes place May 4.

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.