To inform readers about the candidates seeking their votes on the May 1 ballot, the San Antonio Report asked all City Council and mayoral candidates to respond to a brief questionnaire. Only candidates who responded are listed below. Some responses were edited slightly for clarity, and we did not fact-check responses.

See more Q&As with candidates in the May election here.

Quick navigation: Alexander Svehla | Clayton Perry | Ezra Johnson | Gabrien Gregory

Alexander Svehla

Age 32, teacher in North East Independent School District. San Antonio resident “almost my whole life.”

List any previous experience in government or participation on local boards, commissions, or neighborhood associations.

No previous experience.

What are the top priorities you would like to address as a council member?

My immediate priorities would be vaccine distribution and continuing COVID-19 relief. Outside of that, as an educator I believe I will be a top advocate for education. I am the only candidate in District 10 discussing public education policy, which is concerning considering the unprecedented and difficult year so many educators and families faced this year. One change we can make is to prepare our districts with additional technologies to not only assist families who do not have access, but also help prepare our students for a future that demands technology use. 

I also want real environmental protections and change. San Antonio’s rate of waste has increased, while recycling has decreased over the past five years. We need to consider programs, partnerships, and laws that will reverse this trend. 

I have consistently stood for police accountability; I support Proposition B. I am also the only candidate calling for a real mental health crisis unit to be created. Currently the mental health unit is made up of a handful of trained officers, but these officers do not have a true medical or mental health background that can accommodate a multitude of serious situations.

Do you support the proposition to change city charter language and expand the use of bond money beyond public works?

Yes, I believe it could be a huge step towards affordable housing, for instance. My opponent Clayton Perry was the only dissenter for the proposition.

Do you believe there is a need for policing reform in San Antonio?

Yes. I have consistently supported police accountability, Proposition B, and FixSAPD since I started my campaign.

How do you see the concept of “equity” applying to a City Council member’s job?

I felt now was the best time for me to run because there are so many working class people struggling to get by. My wife and I have been working class people our whole lives. We know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, to have the economy affect how you live, and to have to carefully consider every purchase. So I want to protect working class people during these difficult times and going forward. I believe representatives need to be as indistinguishable from those that they represent. If someone would tell me about their struggle to pay their bills, it is something I would be able to understand. So in terms of equity, it is time that all working class people of San Antonio have a representative that can understand and fight for them.

Clayton Perry

Age 65, District 10 City Council member and Air Force retiree. San Antonio resident since 1991.

List any previous experience in government or participation on local boards, commissions, or neighborhood associations.

Prior to being elected to City Council, I served 21 years in the U.S. Air Force as a civil engineer, and after my retirement, I worked for more than 13 years in private industry. I also served as a board member and eventually neighborhood president of my HOA in Redland Springs and served as a board member of the Northeast Neighborhood Alliance. I am a former member of the City’s Building Standards Board and I served on the Citizen’s Bond Committee for Streets during the 2017 Bond process.

In my four years on Council, I have served as a tri-chair of the Military Transformation Task Force, and have served on the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) which determines funding for major transportation projects across the entire community and beyond, as well as the Alamo Regional Council of Governments (AACOG) and the Committee of Six for Workforce Solutions Alamo. I have also served on several City Council committees, namely: Public Safety, Audit and Accountability, Intergovernmental Relations, Culture and Neighborhood Services, Investments, and I was just appointed to the Select Committee on the 2021 Winter Storm. My experience and expertise in these areas remains valuable to the City organization and the District 10 community. 

What are the top priorities you would like to address as a council member?

Throughout my whole career and especially on City Council, I have had a strong focus on customer service. I believe in our responsibilities to protect and uphold the City Charter, and I will continue focusing on the core services that we are required to provide to our neighbors. On Council, I have been a staunch advocate for our neighbors and have fought for property tax relief, including passing the first ever City Homestead Exemption. I have delivered on bringing improvements to our district’s infrastructure to the tune of $64 million, as well as on safety and security by filing the 300 vacancies at SAPD from 2017-2021. I have worked to expand and improve our parks and trailway connections and would like to continue those projects. I have attended hundreds of neighborhood association meetings, hosted monthly District 10 Community meetings, answered thousands of emails and phone calls and addressed the important issues brought forth by our neighbors. If re-elected, I will continue to listen, provide input and be a voice for all of the neighbors in District 10 at City Hall on these and other very important issues.

Do you support the proposition to change city charter language and expand the use of bond money beyond public works?

I know that this decision is ultimately going to be in the hands of voters, and I trust they will make the best decision. I personally do not support this proposed proposition to expand the parameters of the bond funding. I want our community to have a clear vision as to how this charter change could impact San Antonio’s public works requirements. We all know what happens when we defer maintenance and improvements on critical infrastructure requirements. I am concerned about pulling funding away from our core infrastructure requirements. This proposed charter change has the potential to siphon critical funding away from the City’s most essential public works responsibilities. And we have major backlogs:

  • Over 400 miles of failed (F) streets that would cost over $800 million to fix
  • D Streets – approximately $284 million to fix
  • Drainage projects backlogs are over $2 billion
  • Sidewalks is approximately $500 million
  • City Facilities (Fire Stations, Police Stations, Libraries, etc) – multiple millions of dollars
  • Parks – multiple millions of dollars for needed maintenance
  • Total – $3,584,000,000 (even without facilities and parks, which are in the multiple millions of dollars)

Our annual infrastructure and maintenance program funded through the City’s General Fund could never catch up to those needs. These big-ticket items could take years if not decades longer to complete if we do not take a balanced approach to funding through our bond programs.

I have a fundamental philosophical difference with this proposed charter change in that I do not believe that municipalities should be in competition with the private market when it comes to housing. Affordable housing is an important aspect of life here in San Antonio, but it is already being funded annually by the federal government, and the City acts as a good partner on these important housing projects. No other entity will help fund the critical infrastructure needs of our city on an annual basis. These bond programs are the best opportunities to make big strides in tackling these important infrastructure projects in our community.

Do you believe there is a need for policing reform in San Antonio?

Yes, I believe that we can and should always strive to make improvements to all of our departments and operations in the City organization. I am a staunch supporter of SAPD and believe that the majority of officers are good people who selflessly serve our community. I am proud of the work performed by our good officers and am grateful for their service to our community. I support reforms to SAPD that are realized through open dialogue with all parties involved. I know there are still some challenges, but again when we openly dialogue and discuss these important issues, trust is built and positive change is made possible. I look forward to a successful contract negotiation.  

How do you see the concept of “equity” applying to a City Council member’s job?

Equity is one of the main considerations in Council’s policy discussions. From infrastructure funding to how COVID-19 vaccines are distributed, equity has been at the forefront of these conversations. I believe equity and accurate data are important determining factors that must continue to be applied when we are making decisions on how to utilize taxpayer dollars. As council members, the equity principle sometimes requires us to take a much more comprehensive look at the community beyond the political boundaries of our council district to determine the most fair use of our limited funding. While council members are elected by specific districts, we also serve as a team of 11 people to create thoughtful policy for the entire city. We will not always agree, but it is critical that all voices and unique perspectives are brought forward so that the entire community can be best represented by the group of 11 elected officials.

Ezra Johnson

Age 44, state administrative law judge. San Antonio resident for 44 years.

List any previous experience in government or participation on local boards, commissions, or neighborhood associations.

I am the immediate past vice-chair of the VIA Metropolitan Transit board of trustees, where I also served as the chair of the audit committee and the chair of the Accessible Transit Advisory Committee. In addition, I was VIA’s representative on the board of the Alamo Area Mobility Planning Organization. I also represented VIA on the Joint COVID Community Response Coalition.   

I have been the president of the El Dorado Homes Association for the better part of the last four years. 

What are the top priorities you would like to address as a council member?

There is no more pressing need in San Antonio than doing all we can to manage

the end stage of the COVID-19 pandemic response, advocating for our fair share of vaccine supplies, getting our city back to work, and reopening our schools in a safe and judicious manner. I will be a forceful advocate for San Antonio and District 10 in obtaining short term housing aid for our residents, obtaining state and federal dollars to support our small businesses, and getting our new workforce development program fully up and running.

San Antonio needs to take an “all of the above” approach to improving housing affordability that balances the preservation of an environmentally sensitive area experiencing substantial population growth with the preservation of existing neighborhood characteristics. 

We must prioritize council oversight of our public utilities. The city council governance structure must be reformed so that there are staff and resources available for this purpose. The experience I gained as the chair of the VIA Metropolitan Transit Audit Committee will help me hit the ground running on day one to bring transparency and any needed accountability as soon as possible.  

Ending housing instability and homelessness is a top priority and starts with providing transitional and permanent housing to anyone experiencing homelessness – without preconditions. This “housing first” policy has already been successful in effectively ending homelessness among veterans in San Antonio and has repeatedly been shown to be the most cost-effective way to address temporary and chronic housing instability. In addition, it should be easier for people who are homeless to access services by facilitating greater coordination with providers. We also need to invest in wraparound services for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness stemming from addiction and mental health issues.

Do you support the proposition to change city charter language and expand the use of bond money beyond public works?

I strongly favor this proposition as a tool to address housing affordability in San Antonio and I encourage everyone to vote “yes.”

Do you believe there is a need for policing reform in San Antonio?

San Antonio is lucky to have a well-trained and professional police force that supports our community and does the sometimes dangerous work of keeping us safe. SAPD has been on the forefront of developing innovative new policing strategies, such as specially trained units for mental health and homelessness response. At the same time, justifiable concerns have been raised about certain limitations on the police chief’s authority to fire or discipline officers who fail to uphold the high standard of conduct we expect from them. San Antonio’s citizen oversight of the police department has been shown to be insufficient, and current disciplinary rules allow too many rogue officers to remain on the force. Reform is needed to restore full public trust in SAPD and to maintain the stellar reputation of the vast majority of the officers on the force. 

How do you see the concept of “equity” applying to a City Council member’s job?

It was during my time on the VIA Board that I came to realize that improving the quality of life for all city residents requires focus on our people and investing in their personal growth and success. I have called this the people-first approach to local government. 

In order to thrive:

  • Everyone should have access to a good education.
  • Everyone should have access to jobs and opportunity.
  • Everyone should have access to quality health care.
  • Everyone should have economic security.
  • Everyone should feel safe in their neighborhoods.
  • Everyone should be secure in their homes.
  • Everyone should expect that local government cares about their needs and is transparent, honest and straightforward. 
  • Everyone should feel that their voice matters.
  • Everyone is entitled to equal justice under law and to the equal protection of the laws, no matter who they are or where they live.

Accordingly, our primary duty on city council is promoting the safety, health and wellbeing of all of our neighbors and fellow citizens. Everything we do should start there. That is how I see the concept of “equity” applying to my job as a member of City Council.

Gabrien Gregory

Age 24, first lieutenant, platoon leader, and human resources officer in the Army Reserve at Fort Sam Houston and part-time barista. San Antonio resident for 11 years.

List any previous experience in government or participation on local boards, commissions, or neighborhood associations.

I spent the past seven years as an organizer on Democratic campaigns. 

What are the top priorities you would like to address as a council member?

  • COVID-19 relief and recovery for working people and small businesses. Everyone has taken a hit during the pandemic, which is why we should provide direct relief for people facing eviction and expand the homestead exemption to bring property tax relief to current and future homeowners. I will fight to bring more workforce opportunities to District 10 as we continue to recover long term. Lastly, I will work to bring a vaccine distribution site to the Northeast side so more folks have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Work to enact housing first policies that aim to keep families in their home long term and curb the rising rate of homelessness in District 10. We can provide permanent resources to chronically homeless residents without exhausting our tax dollars. Homelessness is not a crime; we need to address the root reasons why people end up homeless in the first place. 
  • We can and we should bring more educational and professional opportunities to veterans and their families. Alongside veterans, the City can and should partner with local businesses and organizations to create new opportunities for currently serving enlisted members as well. Health care should not be a struggle for those who gave their time, sweat, and blood in service to us. We are Military City, USA, but that should not be treated as just a tagline.

Do you support the proposition to change city charter language and expand the use of bond money beyond public works?

I do support the proposition to change the charter language and expand the use of bond money beyond public works. As the seventh largest city in the nation, we continue to face new challenges. To address housing affordability, sustainability, and urbanization, we must move the city forward in a productive way for all neighbors focused on the future.

Do you believe there is a need for policing reform in San Antonio?

I am proud to support Proposition B on the May ballot. As a soldier, I strongly believe accountability is non-negotiable. The overwhelming majority of officers serve with distinction, but no one is above the law and all people should be treated equally with dignity and respect. I do not support defunding the police. In fact, I support bringing more officers to District 10, paying our officers more, and increasing mental health services for officers. We can support our police and workers while still holding people accountable if they do something wrong. 

How do you see the concept of “equity” applying to a City Council member’s job?

In my view, we need to represent all people in District 10 by listening first. We cannot do that without acknowledging the historic inequities that exist or presuming answers to problems. We can address inequities by enacting housing first policies and providing direct relief to families facing hardship. Through the city’s equity lens, we will continue developing and progressing by lifting up all people, regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic status. It is time to elect a councilman in District 10 who listens to all people and leads with facts.

San Antonio Report Staff

San Antonio Report Staff

This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff.