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: Nneka Cleaver | Walter Perry | Jada Andrews-Sullivan | Pharaoh Clark | Kristi Villanueva | Michael John Good | Norris Tyrone Darden | Chris Dawkins | Dori Brown | Andrew Fernandez Vicencio | Carl Booker | Jalen McKee-Rodriguez

Nneka “Miss Nneka” Cleaver

Age 46, owner of Tha1Media and Black Business SA. Lifelong San Antonio resident.

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

I have built relationships with our city Government leaders and worked to make city and district change as well as help the people and programs in District 2. I am on the Denver Heights NHA Board and SAGE review board.

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

Ensuring that our boards and commissions are properly filled with individuals that have passion, knowledge, are invested in the community and represent the people’s voice.

Turning our community centers into hubs that provide individual, family and business resources, free educational classes, and programs that address social issues in the community.  

Safety, economic and educational increase.

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

No. I believe everything dealing with the people’s money should go to a vote. How do we take away the people’s voice? How will we determine money is not going to special interest groups and developers rather than for the good of the community?

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

Yes. Reform is needed everywhere and we need to target specific issues that we deal with here in San Antonio so we can get them solved properly.  We also need to work with state representatives to get laws changed and/or policies put in place that reflect accountability.

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

Ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to receive information and opportunities with the city. No one should be left out of any process, information given, or chance to apply for anything, and information should be readily available and accessible at the same time for everyone.

Walter Perry

Age 45, tax professional. Lifelong San Antonio resident.

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

Member of Eastern Triangle NA/ 2YRS at San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (Economic development agency)

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

Health and wellness, housing reform, crisis management, youth, senior, and disabled community advocacy.

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

Not if the money isn’t going to reach the most needed areas. We’ve voted on so many things but the money hasn’t always reached its intended purpose.

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

Yes, I believe there’s a need for protection. I also believe the local people are in a position to care for their own communities and the police would serve as support. I also believe continued dialogue about the serious issues must remain at the forefront.

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

Having knowledge of the city budget and how the money flows through different channels. How are you going to know what’s equitable if you don’t understand the business language of money and the economy?

Jada Andrews-Sullivan

Age 45, District 2 City Council member. San Antonio resident “for most of my life.”

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

Prior to serving on the City Council, I served on the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. Currently, I served on the Community Health and Equity Committee, Innovation and Technology Committee, Culture and Neighborhood Services Committee, Public Safety Committee, Planning and Land Development Committee, and National League of Cities.

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

Public safety, COVID-19 vaccinations, economic development, infrastructure, and affordable housing

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

I believe that the voters’ voice is the best way to create policy and whatever the city of San Antonio residents decide is how we address the changes, if any!

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

I support accountability.

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

The concept of equity must be at the forefront of a council member’s job. We must stand for an inclusion of all; that’s how we build our community stronger!

Pharaoh Clark

Age 33, personal chef and community advocate. Lifelong San Antonio resident.

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

I have never worked in government, but I have worked with government officials at every level city, county, and state to bring real changes. I have advocated in Austin at our capitol, and in Washington, D.C.

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

Public safety: I will continue to work for accountability and transparency within our governmental agencies, as well as work to rebuild community-police relationships.

Youth development: I will work to invest heavily in our youth and into evidence-based youth programs and curriculums to inspire our youth to achieve higher goals. 

Generational poverty and gentrification: I will work to stop the gentrification that is plaguing the district. I will work to create economic development and provide free money management and wealth-building classes.

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

Yes, I do. I believe we should use some bond money to help our families stay in their homes after the recent crisis.

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

Yes, I do. To reform something is to make changes to it in order to improve it, and I believe it is the government’s job to always work towards improvements to ensure it is always operating in the best interest of the people.

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

It is the council member’s job to be the voice of their constituents, and in order to accurately do that I believe you must ensure equity.

Kristi Villanueva

Age 48, business owner. San Antonio resident since 2010.

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

Over the past three years, I have served as president/CEO of the West San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and deputy Program manager for the previous six years. I was honored to serve as an appointee to the VIA Metropolitan Transit Board of Trustees, appointee to the City of San Antonio’s Ethic Commission, and Honorary Commander for Joint Base San Antonio

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

My top three priorities as a City Council member would be infrastructure improvements, public safety, and economic development. These items are intertwined: the built environment (including streetlights) influences crime rates, as does economic opportunity. As councilwoman, my first action would be to direct my staff to identify pre-existing funding opportunities to improve street lighting, while working to free up additional funding for this effort.

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

While I share concerns with current council members about the broad language used in the proposition, I do support expanding the use of bond money to fund public service projects beyond public works; as we prepare for the 1 million new residents forecast to arrive before 2040, it is imperative that we have the tools necessary to increase our capacity to house and serve those new residents.

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

The tensions, protests, and community led initiatives over the past few years point to a very real need for reform in our public safety systems. I believe that there is common ground and common sense reforms that can be implemented that work for both the community and law enforcement officers. I believe priority should be placed on revamping the oversight board, expanding mental health services to provide alternatives to criminalization for the mentally ill, and returning to community policing. As we address policing in the modern era, I also believe we must keep in mind that there can be good faith objections to certain avenues of reform, and through community dialogue we can reach better outcomes.

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

I see the concept of equity occupying two distinct roles in a City Council member’s job: internal equity and external equity. In terms of internal equity, we need to make sure that there are a diverse set of voices within City Council, both in terms of members and in terms of staff. We need to make sure we are hiring diverse staff members that can better inform the work of the Council; we must continue to reflect the racial and gender diversity within our city, but also socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and the many other elements of diversity that enrich our city. In terms of external equity, the City Council must acknowledge that it functions as a gatekeeper in accessing many of the opportunities available in San Antonio; it must work to ensure that historically marginalized groups have access to contracting opportunities through prioritizing small, micro-, and minority owned businesses. It must also consider who has the opportunity to serve on the various commissions and boards overseen by the council. Do those boards reflect the community they serve? As councilwoman, I would advocate for a more diverse pool of applicants for these boards, as well as pursuing ways to offer community members educational and training opportunities to increase their capacity to serve on these boards.

Michael John Good

Age 53, employed in logistics transportation and construction.

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

Served as a project manager for the St. Philip’s College National Association of Home Builder’s student chapter.

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

  • Funding for job training to allow for people to earn a living wage.
  • Funding for programs for at-risk youth to obtain up-to-date job skills.
  • Addressing absent parents. Infrastructure improvements. Lighting, streets, and ensuring there is no repeat of Feb. 15-17.
  • Gentrification and ensuring people are not taxed out of their homes. 
  • Cutting property taxes. Residents should not be penalized for owning a home.
  • Cut city budget wherever possible.

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

I do not support changing the charter. Money is a finite resource. It does not grow on trees.

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

There is room for improvement, not only on the police side, but in the community. Absent parents play a huge role in a person being involved with the criminal justice industry. Bexar County entities spend a billion dollars a year on the criminal justice industry. We are not getting total value for all dollars spent.

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

Equity to me encompasses that everyone should have a fair shot at following their dreams, and enjoying their life. City Council sets policy. City Council, schools, business, the community at large, churches, and families all have a role in a positive equity model.

Tyrone Darden

Age 41, educator. Lifelong San Antonio resident.

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

 Beat Aids board chair, Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce board member

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

  • COVID-19 relief throughout the district
  • Connectivity of resources (bond reprogramming funds, equity in next bond, equity in Pre-K 4 SA, participation in SA Ready to Work Initiative, etc.)
  • Constituency service overhaul providing quality services to the entire district

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

Yes, for now housing is being addressed and in District 2 adequate housing is a major gap

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

No. There needs to be a more intentional effort to recruit within San Antonio communities through partnerships with ISDs, charters and the Alamo Community Colleges District. Homegrown officers will alleviate much of the disdain for law enforcement and create an atmosphere of trust through community and service.

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

Well, I don’t see it as a concept at all but instead a non-negotiable. For far too long specific “nouns” have been oppressed, abused, and taken advantage of and before the discussion of equality is had equity has to be visible.

Chris Dawkins

Age 66, partner and chief operations officer for software company E-Log Plus.

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

I was the District 2 representative on the Joint Commission for Elderly Affairs, appointed by William Cruz Shaw. Named a fellow for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C. Named Crime Stopper of the Year. President, Lakeside Neighborhood Association.

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

  • Crime & Safety
  • Filling all boards and commissions
  • Create a council of neighborhoods called the Community Congress

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

Yes! With the reason being San Antonio is in a growth phase and to effectively grow our city issues will present itself beyond public works projects.

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

Yes! I look at this issue as a way for all parties to form a better San Antonio with SAPOA becoming an entity for citizens to have an interaction with. I personally want SAPOA to have a better understanding of the public their members serve thus, hopefully will lead to better policing and a better San Antonio.

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

Not sure I understand this question. Equity in what way? I believe that all areas of San Antonio have progressed because building the city is based on the assets of our older neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods invested in the growth of the city and at some point a dividend must be repaid. This is how I see equity.

Dori Brown

Age 52, works in public accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and consulting. San Antonio resident for 49 years.

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

  • Martin Luther King Jr Commission, program chair for 14 years
  • Claude Wm Black Advisory Board for 14-plus years
  • Sinclair Elementary PTA Treasurer (former)
  • San Antonio Queen of Soul Inc. board member for 14-plus years
  • State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon constituent aide

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

Needs of the resident first, city accountability, proactive growth and sustainability

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

 At this time, I oppose the amendment. I feel I need more information.

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

YES!!

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

If a council member wants to be fully effective they need to build a team around them that they can trust, will work in their best interest for the needs of the district that they represent. If they approach this proactively with the entire district in mind equity should come.

Andrew Fernandez Vicencio

Age 56, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and former City of San Antonio employee.

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

President of Asian Club

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

  • Improve public safety and community in District 2
  • Gentrification, ensuring people are not taxed out of their homes.
  • Prevent duplication of community initiatives and wasteful government spending.
  • Work with state legislators to reduce property taxes.
  • I am against housing that mixes minors with grown adults. That can lead to human trafficking and pedophilia. It is wrong bringing illegals here. Using the Freeman Coliseum puts a strain on our infrastructure resources and law enforcement. Also our virus numbers are down and we are now bringing unchecked illegals here who may have the virus. Where is the compassion for taking care of our own homeless citizens and children?

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

No change to City Charter except reduce City Council salary by $5,000 annually. Voting no on both Prop A and B.

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

No answer.

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

No answer.

Carl Booker

Age 53, publisher/owner of Avista Products. San Antonio resident for 45 years.

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

No previous experience in government.

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

First priority is to listen to the people’s needs, economic development, a pathway to reduce crime, better health care strategies, and affordable housing. 

My thoughts on economic development starts with an awareness of commerce. We need to find out who is in business and find out where they are in the marketplace and work towards their strengths. Part of our recovery is to find out what can be done locally. Because a lot of minority-owned businesses will not reopen, I believe the city and its stakeholders should have a P.H.D.. strategy and index. Purchase. Hire. Diversity. Index will allow the community to see where the city and our stakeholders spend and invest in the community. The recovery starts with your neighbor.

Public safety and accountability is not the sole responsibility of the justice system. Mental health and trauma can cause chaos in a once-stable environment. I have a plan to address homelessness, risky behavior, and increase knowledge seekers. My program allows for our community to draft 25 individuals per year to become ambassadors of the district through mentoring, life skills, and productivity.

Affordable housing can have different levels of affordability from shared spaces to single family units. Once abandoned warehouses and schools can be converted to creative housing.

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

I am open to change if the charter is not beneficial to the community.

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

I believe police reform is simple. Police should be disciplined if they are bad actors. Their job is to protect and serve, not intimidate and kill. The police as a whole are doing a good job. I support their right to fight for better benefits and higher wages.

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

City Council members are elected officials. Racial equity should be considered for city staff and procurement practices.

Jalen McKee-Rodriguez

Age 26, high school math teacher. San Antonio resident for eight years.

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

I have served in the District 2 office as the district’s communications director. In that role I learned of the intricacies of our municipal government and gained knowledge about how council offices actually function as opposed to how people perceive them to function from the outside. I worked with neighborhood leaders, prepared the District 2 quarterly newsletter, prepared social media posts, graphics, and videos, and even executed several successful community events with hundreds of participants such as the D2 Family Reunion and Halloween Movie Night. Most importantly, I gained a deep respect and understanding of how the budget process works for our city and where dollars need to go and are currently not going. I have previously served as a board member of Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, as a member of the Texas Organizing Project, Our Revolution TX, and San Antonio DSA, and as a volunteer with Fiesta Youth, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and City Year.

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

We’ve met with thousands of community members and we’ve found that the issues most important to the District are, in no particular order:

  • An equitable and sustainable COVID-19 recovery plan that prioritizes direct relief to San Antonians affected most by the pandemic, including workers and small business owners. Unprecedented times like these require unprecedented solutions, and we cannot afford business as usual. We need increased vaccination sites, including the distribution of vaccines in senior centers, churches, and schools;
  • Increased street lighting throughout the district, and a more efficient infrastructure
    improvement process that makes it possible to perform more street and maintenance projects per year. District 2 has some of the most damaged and unlit streets in the city. These impact vehicle and pedestrian safety and also have a direct correlation to crime in the district. Increased street lighting = decreased crime pockets; and
  • The negotiation of an equitable and fair budget that prioritizes the most pressing needs of our community, including after-school programs, public health, infrastructure improvements, support for small businesses, affordable and accessible housing, and human services.

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

Yes, I support the proposition to change the charter language and expand the use of bond money beyond public works. The COVID-19 pandemic placed a magnifying glass on the structural issues that have gone unaddressed for decades, including our infrastructure. Homelessness, poverty, and lack of dignified affordable housing are all issues that should and must be addressed in the next bond cycle, as evidenced by this past year. We must supplement short term solutions with long term planning. If the city is not making attempts to address poverty at its root cause, then we are only applying bandaid solutions to large societal wounds that require much greater treatment.

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

There is an absolute need for policing reform in San Antonio. These reforms must be negotiated and established publicly, and they will require accountability. There is an overwhelming majority of support for reforms, but there has been little solution-oriented action taken in order to mend the relationship between the police and the community. It is apparent that experts are not at the helm of our city’s crime prevention strategies. If elected, I will work to establish a city department of crime prevention that can help address the increase in crime that hasn’t been solved by an increase in officers. This department will make policy and budgeting recommendations backed by research in the field of criminology. I will also support the end of our city’s participation in the chapter 1033 program as a means to demilitarize our police force. This May, I will be voting “Yes” on Prop B to increase police accountability and as a means to ensure a fair and just police contract.

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

District 2 is a historically underserved area of the city and everyone will have different ideas on how to address this harsh reality, but equity is a commonality. Using equity as a lens through which to view problem-solving, a council member’s role is to ensure our most neglected communities are at the forefront when making budgeting decisions, legislating public policy, and running an office’s day-to-day operations.

Equity is a guiding principle, not a plan. Plans need to have equity, but having equity is not enough. My plan is to implement an advisory board consisting of constituents, community leaders, and community organizations that advises the council office on policy, budget priority, and community engagement.

We also cannot move forward as a district until we remove the influence of quid pro quo politics from City Hall. It’s embarrassing how much influence developers have had over our politicians, and how that influence has limited our vision for the district. That is why I have refused to accept developer dollars and have pledged to work alongside community members, in collaboration with developers, for responsible development.

San Antonio Report Staff

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