This article has been updated with a statement from VIA.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said Monday they are endorsing Fernando Reyes, a manufacturing executive and San Antonio native, to become chair of the VIA Metropolitan Transit board.

If Reyes’ nomination is approved by the VIA board, he will replace longtime chair Hope Andrade, whose term expires on Nov. 30.

“As always, the Mayor and Judge’s recommendations are taken into consideration in this important decision and we appreciate their thoughtful suggestion,” VIA Communication Director Rachel Benavidez said in an email. “The next VIA Board Chair will be selected by a nomination and voting process, among our Board of Trustees, per state statute. … We are confident the Board will select a person who can continue the momentum created by their bold leadership and keep San Antonio moving forward.”

Reyes founded Reyes Automotive Group, a company that supplies interior parts to Toyota at its Southside plant, in 2005 and served as the treasurer of the Vote Yes for Transit campaign that voters approved to increase funding for public transit with sales tax revenue.

“Fernando brings a wealth of experience with him,” Wolff stated in a news release Monday. “His ability to work in public and private sectors and adapt to changing climates will undoubtedly suit him well as VIA board chairman.”

Nirenberg echoed that praise, adding that “Fernando is exceptionally well-prepared to assume the VIA leadership role, and I am grateful for his willingness to serve.”

Earlier this year, Reyes applied for a seat on the San Antonio Water System board and received backing from two City Council members but later pulled his name out of consideration after Council members disagreed on racial representation on that board.

He previously worked in the federal government, including at the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He also has served on the Harlandale Education Foundation board, the Bexar County Community Arenas board, the Texas Lottery Commission, and the Texas Workers Compensation Insurance Fund board.

Fernando Reyes

Andrade spent more than five years as VIA board chair before stepping down in June 2019 but returned when Chair Rey Saldaña, a former city councilman, left the board in February 2020 to take a job in Washington, D.C. She co-owns the company that runs the City’s river barges and previously served as chair of the Texas Transportation Commission and Texas Secretary of State.

VIA board members and the chair are appointed for two-year terms. The board will vote on Reyes’ appointment in an upcoming meeting.

The City is seeking applications to fill five positions on VIA’s board of trustees. Two will serve until Dec. 31, 2021. Of those, one must be a representative of the transit union, the other of a disadvantaged community. Three other positions, which don’t have representative restrictions, have terms that run until Dec. 31, 2022.

Board members must be qualified voters and live within VIA’s service area. They receive $50 per meeting, twice per month. The deadline to submit an application is Thursday, Dec. 3, at 5 p.m. Applications are available online here.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org