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: Gary Allen | Antonio Diaz | Ron Nirenberg | John Velasquez | Dan Martinez | Denise Gutierrez-Homer | Greg Brockhouse | Tim Atwood

Gary Allen

Age 65, retired teacher and school principal.

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

I have dealt with school boards all my career. I was the president of the district TSTA in the Dumas, Texas area. I have been part of the Tanglewood subdivision Home Owners Association.

What are the top priorities you would like to address as mayor?

My priorities as mayor would be to make our city government more transparent and accountable. SAWS and CPS need to be reorganized to be more responsive to the citizens.  The Constitution and civil rights are a priority to me after what we saw what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic response by the mayor and city council. Their response violated the civil rights of citizens in the name of safety. Even though safety is important, the Constitution forbids subjecting citizens to harsh shutdowns, especially violating the freedom to assemble to worship and the freedom to protest from all groups.

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

If this question is about Prop A, then my answer would be no. The city council should not have nearly unlimited power to use taxpayers’ money anyway they want. This is part of the accountability problem we are seeing in the present city administration.

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

Policing reform and Prop B are another way to start defunding the police. These measures will restrict the police from doing their job, which is to protect and serve us. Officers will start leaving the SAPD and we as a city will be less safe. As in any organization, career, or job there are people that are incompetent. Policing is no exception. Bad officers need to be evaluated and released if they are not doing their job properly and safely. But the police need to be able to perform their jobs without so many restrictions that could endanger their own lives and the lives of those they are trying to protect from criminals. The neighborhoods that would be impacted the most would be the low income neighborhoods where crime tends to be the highest. Those citizens deserve protection, and defunding the police would have the most negative impact on them. I support the police department.

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

Equity is all part of the concept intended by the Constitution. All races need to be treated fairly. But the city government and businesses should hire the best qualified based on abilities and to a degree experience and not on the color of their skin. Racism will never be solved as long as skin color is the issue. We must look beyond skin color.  Systemic racism is not what 98% of Americans practice. Yes, there is inequity based on data and studies and these problems are being addressed and should be addressed. Fringe groups, though, should not be forcing their agenda upon businesses, schools, and government. Their ideology is dangerous and counterproductive to the values on which our great country was founded. Those values are based on Judaic-Christian principles, on God, country, and family and free enterprise, and not on socialism and suppression. Liberty and freedom are precious and there are groups trying to destroy this in our country. As a mayor I want to be a champion for all races and for businesses to operate and grow without choking regulations. We need to get this city back on track concerning jobs that give opportunities to all people no matter what their color or their culture. I would also address the disparity between the schools in south San Antonio and north San Antonio. We need to find a way to help those schools in the south, which generally have a much higher percentage of students of color. Education is extremely important to our future and all children should have an equal opportunity to be successful and become productive citizens as adults.

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Antonio Diaz

Age 67, human and civil rights activist. Native San Antonian.

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

Founded the Cesar Chavez March for Justice in San Antonio as well as Founder of Texas Indigenous Council, got Oct. 12 recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day in San Antonio. I sit on the Citizens Advisory Board of Lazarus oil refinery, previous Calumet. Also on the County’s Reentry program. County Chair of the Bexar County Green Party since 2015.

What are the top priorities you would like to address as mayor?

My priorities as mayor would be affordable housing, not what is considered affordable at the present percentage of AMI. The Average Median Income in San Antonio is nowhere near $50,000. Mental health care is on top of my priorities, since that’s a prime reason for unemployment and homelessness as well as a major factor in recidivism. Maintaining the infrastructure that provides vital services to our populace and making services affordable to the working class is also top of my list.

Other top issues include COVID-19 and the health needs beyond vaccination and the economic impact the pandemic has had on small business, especially the hospitality industry and the impact on our low wage working community. Then there is the utilities calamity caused by this year’s freezing weather. Our city must leave ERCOT. CPS Energy and SAWS, both public utilities, threatening to shut off services is outrageous. As mayor I would hold our public utilities responsible for their mistakes.

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

The expansion bond issue is perhaps needed since our city is at the sales tax limit. The only thing is that it would have to be very stringent language to keep developers in check. These expansive apartment complexes being built on the poorer sides of our city are plain gentrification, raising property value to an extreme causing housing to be a seller’s market. Those property management companies are from out of state. This monster doesn’t need to be given any more of our hard-earned monies.

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

Yes, the police department needs reform. SAPOA’s lack of cooperation with removing bad police officers makes reform a must. 

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

I will bring equity by representing regular working people instead of the same power structure that keeps the poor poor and the wealthiest always getting more. Time for the less to have representation and that’s me.

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Ron Nirenberg

Age 43, mayor of the City of San Antonio. San Antonio resident for more than 19 years.

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

Former District 8 Councilmember. Previously volunteered with Northside Neighborhoods for Organized Development (NNOD) and SA2020.

What are the top priorities you would like to address as mayor?

Healthy people, healthy economy, healthy opportunities, healthy future.

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

Yes. We’re the only major city in Texas that has such restrictive bond language. We should be afforded greater flexibility in our bonds.

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

Yes. We need to ensure that the chief of police has a more final say in officer firings. Our negotiations should focus on proper disciplinary procedures to ensure bad officers are kept off the force.

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

The concept of equity should be employed at every level of the job. Ensuring that residents, communities, staff, committees, and commissions receive fair representation and service should be at the forefront of everything we do.

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John Velasquez

Age not provided, licensed psychologist and former university instructor. San Antonio resident since 1999.

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

I was appointed by the mayor to the cultural arts commission in 2017, but I was not able to accept this position at the time. I was interested in mental health, but there were no boards addressing mental health. In 2019 the mayor promised me a role in mental health within Metro Health, but the leadership at Metro Health blocked my appointment. 

What are the top priorities you would like to address as mayor?

1. There must be a mental health budget line within Metro Health. This is a crisis which has been ignored by Metro Health. The science of mental health and psychological science is clear that improving brain function via psychotherapy improves: health, family functioning, school/work performance, reduced crime, and less domestic violence. It is my belief that the medical problems caused by the coronavirus would be much less severe had the citizens been healthy at the start of the pandemic 

2. There must be immediate attention to climate change. I will issue emergency measures immediately upon taking office in the following ways: ban plastic bags, ban the use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, reduce traffic through a variety of innovative strategies, and reconstruct portions of Loop 410 that are outdated and need improvement. For example, build new exit ramps, build new emergency exit ramps, close some existing ramps, and make the left lane the “P” lane (passing) and make every lane a variable speed. Lastly, in order to accomplish these and other ideas, San Antonio needs to construct a Central Traffic Command Center where traffic is monitored 24/7 so that changes in traffic can be managed by switching traffic lights and opening temporary exit lanes to relieve congestion.

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

No. Developers already have too many tax breaks. This is just another way to make more profit for developers who want gentrification to expand. This pushes people out of their homes and neighborhoods.

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

Yes of course. Who doesn’t believe that? Bad behavior by police can be prevented by comprehensive mental health screening in the academy and periodically throughout the career of a police officer. This will help weed out applicants from the start, help manage the mental health of officers over time, and help build a record to know when an officer is at risk.

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

It is the responsibility of the mayor to care for everyone in San Antonio. Decades of abuse of power and the flow of city dollars has benefited those who didn’t need help and parts of the city that were already doing well. To overcome this disparity, inequality, and inequity we need to target failing zip codes with massive infusion of money to improve infrastructure, economy, and health of these zip codes. This requires a shift in priorities from “status quo” to a real effort to improve the lives of citizens. We already know that San Antonio is the least healthy, “sickest” city in the country. This was caused by unequal attention of city leaders to the present time. Also, we need to find leaders who are from San Antonio. We need to stop the practice of “hiring the best with a national search.” This is one cause of inequity. Hiring someone who is not from San Antonio is part of the problem. We need to stop growth until we can make our native citizens healthy. This is a priority. Bringing in more people from the outside pushes out San Antonio residents from earning a living. This has been a racial bias against San Antonio citizens who are mostly Black, indigenous, and people of color and who earn less than the national and state median income.

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Dan Martinez

Age 81, retired business owner.

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

Former Trustee, Alamo Community College District and Executive Committee Member, Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG); current Dellcrest Neighbors Association chairman.

What are the top priorities you would like to address as mayor?

The Alamo Master Plan should not proceed and should be scrapped. Vehicle traffic should be halted between East Houston and Commerce Street. The area between those streets should be turned into an open mall area.

With regard to large-scale apartment developments in the downtown area and tax abatements should not be occurring. They should also pay their share in property tax just like all property taxpayers do. The areas that need affordable housing should be considered most and by working with HUD and the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) be able to provide affordable housing for those who really need them.

Transparency can occur only, by having Public Servants (not politicians) that become truly involved in representing their constituents that elect them.

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

Voter-approved bond dollars should be used for the purpose intended by the voters.

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

With regard to Fix SAPD’s Proposition B, I support it in good faith. That’s because I served on the SAPD Internal Affairs Board for four years and heard over 500 cases against police officers – most of which were minor and others very serious cases where officers lied and abused their positions, which resulted in termination only to have them be reinstated.

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

No response.

Denise Gutierrez-Homer

Age 57, semi-retired subcontractor in building finish-outs, business partner in family veterinary practice, self storage and real estate investments. San Antonio resident since 1983.

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

I am a member of the Eastside Community Plan Planning Team, former member of Timberwood Park Homeowners Association, and former member of the Government Hill Neighborhood Association.

What are the top priorities you would like to address as mayor?

As mayor, affordable housing for the working families of San Antonio is a must.

A) Collaboration with builders to plan “communities” where city-owned property and city utilities will be provided to make such homes truly affordable to those who qualify should be implemented.

B) The city must address the issues regarding SAHA and the needed repairs to many complexes around the city. The lack of needed housing for those who have been waiting for years is unacceptable.

C) San Antonio must now begin the economic recovery for many of our small businesses that have been impacted by the local closures and extended mandates. Family owned businesses must reopen.

D) After our city failed to create a Strategic Emergency Response Plan, the effects of the freeze has highlighted our city government’s failures. The lack of emergency generators, backup storage, and proper shelters should have never happened.

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

Absolutely not. No taxpayers should allow a government entity to take their vote or in this case allow their pocket to be picked. Our monies and therefore our financial security for hundreds of millions in bond money should be voted by the stockholders, the San Antonio voters.

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

Police review, not police reform.

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

If you are using the same special lens, a vote for any other candidate would not be equitable. However, my message is not based on my gender, race, or beliefs in freedom and strong sense of principle. The city government should be a meritocracy and not a bureaucracy.

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Greg Brockhouse

Age 48, small business owner and mortgage banker. San Antonio resident for 44 years.

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

 Council member, District 6, 2017-2019; Chief of Staff, District 4, Council member Rey Saldana; Constituent Services Manager, Council member Mary Alice Cisneros.

What are the top priorities you would like to address as mayor?

I will focus on being the jobs mayor to attract employment opportunities and
wages to our city. We have lost over 100,000 jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and our path back begins with people getting back to work … now. Pre-pandemic, our job
creation was abysmal, without any success. We cannot continue to lose
employment opportunities to other cities in Texas. Our route back to prosperity
will be through job creation and wage growth, focusing on reducing the decades-long disease that is income inequality. We must help people make more money
and keep more of the money they make. Recovery NOW is the answer, and we
must all engage job creation together with a passion to get back to work. I will
further focus on public safety, families, and cleaning up City Hall. Throughout
the last year we have learned valuable lessons about who we are as a city and
what our glaring opportunities are to improve our preparedness. From COVID-19 to
the winter storm, City Hall failed us. As mayor, I will focus on bringing hope and
teamwork back to City Hall. We must be safe and intentional as we emerge from
the last year and reopen, but we must do so immediately, with delay. No more
leadership by fear and shutdown. I intend to engage the tough conversations
and bring passion and energy to our recovery and focus on San Antonio building
back better than ever.

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

Yes, because we must get creative with our funding and development
opportunities. I don’t fear expansion of bond projects because the voters will
have the final say on all expenditures. If the voters have the choice, I am good
with it. This also ensures less debt incurred by the city without a public vote. I
support citizens deciding and making the choice on how we build our city.

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

Yes, I do. I am opposed to Proposition B, but I see a clear need to revamp police
accountability. I simply do not believe the removal of the entire police contract is
the answer. I do believe we can bring the police union and the activist
community together, with elected officials and key community leaders to build
accountability metrics that get rid of bad cops. We all want that; we all want the
best police force possible. But the answer lies beyond just bad cops, which
account for about 10 police officers over the last 10 years. The answers lie in
honest conversations around dismantling a judicial and jail system that has failed
people of color. It revolves around jobs and closing the wage inequality gap.
These conversations have never been had in our city and I plan to prioritize them
as mayor.

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

A mayor is a mayor for everyone. Everyone has a seat at the table. If I am mayor, I will be in the community, talking with everyone and having the tough conversations. Everyone deserves a voice. We will open the doors to full transparency and ensure
everything is done with complete conversation and citizen input. Equity is a
slogan that City Hall has used for their own political gain, without really solving
the generational issues that have plagued San Antonio. Equity to me is all about
bringing together the voices and decision makers from across this city, not just
those who can afford the campaign contributions, or those that have the political
clout to scare elected officials.

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Tim Atwood

Age 67, secondary school teacher and former pastor. San Antonio resident for four years.

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

I’ve never held public office. Experience holding an elected position is certainly helpful, but I believe that integrity, honesty, and a commitment to the truth are more important.

What are the top priorities you would like to address as mayor?

I don’t believe that an incumbent mayor should sit on the board of SAWS or CPS. It creates a clear conflict of interest. For example, if SAWS wants to raise your water rate by 10%, the proposal must come before city council for an approval vote. With the mayor on the board, presumably, SAWS already knows that they have his vote before the meeting even starts. 

How is that not a conflict of interest? The mayor should be asking hard questions, not rubber-stamping board agendas.

If the mayor had not been on the SAWS board, perhaps the $3 billion Vista Ridge project would not have been decided by city council without being put to a public vote. This is a systemic change that needs to occur.

Another issue has to do with the city masterplan that has designated areas to be single family home neighborhoods. The city keeps giving developers permission to build apartments right next door. This leads to higher property taxes and contributes to the growing problem of gentrification. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has to uproot and move out of their home, simply because they can’t afford to pay the taxes anymore.

The city needs to get better at saying “no” to developers.

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

I support the proposition to expand the use of bond money. The main concern is the potential reallocation of too much money that would otherwise be used for infrastructure improvement. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a whole new economic reality in many ways, and I think that a new level of flexibility is warranted.

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

There is always room for improvement in any organization, but I believe that it is a mistake to try to punish SAPD for what happened in Minneapolis. The tragic death of George Floyd mushroomed a visceral reaction around the world. In my view, calls to defund the police comprise an ill-conceived, across-the-board overcompensation to try to address certain social issues.

I’m all for accountability, but I believe that Fix SAPD has gone too far in seeking to strip the police of all collective bargaining powers. I do not support this initiative, and I urge San Antonians to reject it as well. Rather than solve anything, it will exacerbate problems. I agree with Mr. Greg Brockhouse, who calls it a “back-door attempt at defunding the police.” Police need to be held accountable, but they also need our support.

Notwithstanding, our police department has some areas that could use improvement, but again, let’s not try to punish SAPD for what happened in Minneapolis. “Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.”

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

To be honest, I’ve heard the word “equity” so much in city ouncil meetings for the past few years that I’m almost sick of hearing it. Let’s stop talking about it so much, and let’s just do it. Equity means “the quality of being fair and impartial.” I hope for the day that it will be the norm in  city governance, with respect to access, implementation, management, and distribution of city services. 

The city should be a model and example for every institution and entity in San Antonio. It’s easy to pay lip service to sound magnanimous in a public forum, especially during an election year. It’s time for less talk and more doing. I’m a problem solver. I seek solutions. I invite you to throw a little equity my way on May 1.

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San Antonio Report Staff

San Antonio Report Staff

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