Lee Spencer White, Alamo Defenders Descendants Association President, calls all descendants of the Alamo in front of the stage.
Lee Spencer White, Alamo Defenders Descendants Association president, calls Alamo descendants to the front of the stage at a protest in August 2018. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

A vast majority of Republicans across Texas are averse to the changes proposed for the Alamo, if primary ballots are any indication.

At the bottom of their primary ballots, both major Texas parties typically include yes-or-no, nonbinding questions on policy matters across a broad range of issues. When Republicans cast their vote in the March 3 primary, most voted against making changes to historical sites, including the Alamo.

The exact ballot language read: “Texans should protect and preserve all historical monuments, artifacts, and buildings, such as the Alamo Cenotaph and our beloved Alamo, and should oppose any reimagining of the Alamo site.”

Statewide, 97 percent of Republicans voted yes. In Bexar County, 95 percent supported the proposition.

The results reflect the partisan nature of opposition to the $450 million redevelopment of the Alamo and the surrounding plaza by the Texas General Land Office (GLO), the nonprofit Alamo Trust, and the City of San Antonio.

Republican party officials did not respond to emailed and phone requests for comment on the response to the question, and it wasn’t clear how, or if, the results might inform public policy on the Alamo Plaza redevelopment project.

“Overwhelmingly, any way you look at this, Texans don’t want the Alamo reimagined, and they want to see the Cenotaph stay where it sits,” said Lee Spencer White, president of the Alamo Defenders Descendants Association, one of the organizations fighting to keep the Cenotaph from being moved 500 feet south of its current location. The relocation of the Cenotaph, the 1930s-era monument to the Texan revolutionaries who were killed in the 1836 standoff with the Mexican Army, is one of the most controversial elements of the new Alamo design.

However, officials with Alamo Trust, the nonprofit tasked by the Texas General Land Office with stewardship of the site, said the State’s plan for the Alamo is actually consistent with the message sent by GOP voters.

“The Alamo Plan repairs and restores the Alamo Church, Long Barrack, and Cenotaph; [it] removes Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and the carnival-like amusements from the battleground [and] mission footprint,” Alamo Trust officials said in a Monday statement. “In the past year, engineers and scientists have deployed the best analytical techniques available to assess these icons of the Texas revolution. The discoveries are that all of them have very serious problems customary for such structures between 100 and 300 years of age.”

The redevelopment plan also includes correcting the 47 errors in the Cenotaph’s Defender list, as well as listing some of the people whose names were left out.

“Currently, the Cenotaph omits 12 of the Defenders who gave their lives at the Alamo,” the Alamo Trust continued. “They should be honored.”

A spokeswoman for the GLO declined to comment, deferring instead to the Alamo Trust.

Other propositions on the Republican primary ballot dealt with issues ranging from prayer in schools, sex education, purging ineligible voters from the voter rolls, and term limits for state legislators, among others.

The Texas Democratic party had no questions about the Alamo on its primary ballot. Democratic propositions included questions about rights to health care, environmental issues, affordable housing, and paid sick and family leave.

Officials with the City of San Antonio, which owns the Cenotaph, did not respond to multiple request for comment. Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), who serves on the Alamo Management Committee and is one of three chairs of the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee, also did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the City’s ownership of the Cenotaph.

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.