Issues that affect our daily lives such as jobs, safety, efficient transportation, and the success of local businesses are what our city leaders should be focused on. Unfortunately, over the last four years, it seems as though local officials have cared more about winning praise from the country’s liberal leaders than work that actually benefits the day-to-day lives of San Antonio’s citizens. For San Antonio to reach its full potential, we need our mayor and newly elected City Council to start prioritizing people over politics, substance instead of sizzle, and business rather than bluster.

Unlike federal elections, local elections in San Antonio — and in most of the country’s largest cities — are nonpartisan. Partisanship should have no place in local government because local officials are elected to fix localized, day-to-day issues relevant to their districts, not to advance policy positions of the national Republican and Democratic parties. But many San Antonio voters have likely noticed partisan politics seeping into our local government recently, and we’re tired of it. Instead of falling into the trap of partisanship and making empty political gestures, it’s time for our local leaders to focus on making San Antonio a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

Our city government’s recent record of delivering for our citizens and forgetting about politics is not good. When faced with February’s winter storm, during which many in the city were left stranded without power, water, or assistance in keeping their homes and families safe, city leadership was nowhere to be found. The lack of communication between city officials and those at SAWS and CPS kept many of us in the dark for days. Though they weren’t quick to take action and communicate with residents, city leaders were quick to play the blame game and fire shots at Republicans in Austin. At times when our electrical grid or other basic services face an intense period of stress, we need leaders who are prepared to solve the issue and clearly and directly communicate with the public.  

Remember when our city leaders tried to jump in with other liberal leaders across the country and pass paid sick leave? With complete disregard for our local businesses, City Council spent hours debating and passing the anti-business ordinance, only to then have a Texas appellate court decide that it violated the Texas constitution. This long, drawn-out battle shows a lack of understanding of how businesses work and how if bottom lines suffer, it’s the employees who will suffer in the long run with fewer full-time jobs available and less pay. Rather than making decisions based on the politics of the moment, we need leaders who will consult with the business community and make well-informed decisions that will help businesses and their employees.

Then there’s nixing the possibility that the 2020 Republican Convention would be held in San Antonio. I get it, not everyone loved President Trump. But allowing a political preference to take priority over an event that — had there not been a pandemic — would have brought millions of tourism dollars into the city, is simply unacceptable. As we emerge from the pandemic, which has dealt an enormous blow to our tourism and hospitality industry, local leaders must set aside partisan politics and do everything in their power to ensure a quick and robust economic recovery for our city.

Finally, and most recently, the mayor and City Council spent their time and your tax dollars to declare that racism is a public health crisis in San Antonio. But without actionable programs put into place to try and resolve this “crisis,” this resolution appears to be nothing more than a symbolic gesture designed to keep our left-leaning leaders in line with what other liberal leaders are doing across the country. Divisive, politically motivated statements such as this do not serve any meaningful interest of San Antonians. 

Simply put, it doesn’t have to be like this. Local leadership should be about doing the day-to-day blocking and tackling necessary to benefit our businesses and the lives of our families. Items like the new police substation in District 3 that has been on the table for years without any action being taken, the request by the residents in Districts 2 and 5 for new street lights to make the flow of traffic more orderly and efficient, and the funding to complete Harry Wurzbach in District 10, should be at the top of the to-do list. Let’s focus on these initiatives and others that will make our city a better place to live.

This is not meant to be an indictment of all of our locally elected leaders, as there are certainly some who would prefer to be focusing on the issues that actually matter. But it is meant to be a request to our mayor and newly elected City Council to start focusing on the issues that will tangibly make the lives of San Antonians better. The city is doing fine, but fine shouldn’t be good enough. We should expect more from our leaders.

District 10 City Councilman Marc Whyte is practicing business attorney who has served on the Zoning Commission and the Texas Transportation Advisory Commission.