Councilman Rey Saldaña signaled a possible mayoral run Thursday night when asked about his political future at a community forum at San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology at Port San Antonio.

“If I were to be in elected office after this I think you might spy me running for mayor,” said Saldaña. “The question just would be the timing of that.”

The senior Councilman’s fourth and final term ends in 2019. Saldaña said his good working relationship with Mayor Ron Nirenberg would impact when he would run, if he decided to launch a campaign.

“I like our Mayor, and he’s a partner and a friend on a lot of good work,” Saldaña said. “I think he and I see the world in the same way.”

The event Thursday, which was part of the Rivard Report‘s Conversations with the Council series, was moderated by Rivard Report Editor-in-Chief Beth Frerking. Watch a live recording of the event here.

Saldaña, 31, was first elected to Council in 2011 at age 24. He considered running for mayor in the May 2017 election, but instead decided to continue his focus on District 4, one of the largest districts in the city by geographical area

“There was a time where I thought I would be running for mayor pretty quickly,” Saldaña said. He said he believes he has finally hit his stride as a Council member.

Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4) describes decades of neglect in the Southside during a community forum at at San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology.
Rivard Report Editor in Chief Beth Frerking (left) listens as Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4) describes decades of neglect in the Southside during a community forum at at San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology. Credit: Iris Dimmick / San Antonio Report

His district includes Joint Base-San AntonioTexas A&M University-San Antonio, Port San Antonio, South San Antonio Independent School District, and extends south toward Applewhite Road. More than 80% of District 4 residents are Latinos.

The Southside native said he believes that his district will see developments in the near future similar to those at Brooks Air Force base.

“I think what you’re going to see is a lot of those same types of developments that are moving in the direction of our district on the Southwest side,” Saldaña said. “For folks who have been patient and have lived in the community for a long time, they’ll start to see some changes.”

The 2017 $850 million bond includes nearly $24 million dollars to repair drainage problems at Port San Antonio and $7 million to improve sidewalks in District 4 neighborhoods that for decades lost out to projects in other parts of the city with higher vote turnouts, he said. The district will also get a boost in funds from the City’s $2.7 billion budget for 2018, which was approved by Council in September. It’s the first budget in the city’s history to use a so-called “equity lens,” which divvies up more resources to areas that have been historically overlooked or underfunded.

Those new funds will contribute to the district’s infrastructure and hopes for development. Responding to a question about solutions for gentrification, Saldaña said he wasn’t yet concerned about displacement in his district.

“Right now I think myself and the rest of the community members, if you polled them, would say that we want development,” Saldaña said. “We haven’t seen development in this community in the last 40 [or] 50 years.”

The next Conversations with the Council event will feature Councilman William “Cruz” Shaw (D2) and take place Tuesday, Nov. 14, at Alamo Beer. For more information, click here.

Reporter Rocío Guenther contributed to this article.

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Jeffrey Sullivan

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.