(From left) D3 candidates for city council Elizabeth Campos and Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3).
(From left) District 3 City Council candidates Elizabeth "Liz" Campos and incumbent Rebecca Viagran Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Rebecca Viagran, seeking her fourth and final term as the City Council District 3 representative, faces a single challenger, Elizabeth “Liz” Campos, in the May 4 elections.

Both are lifelong South Siders.

Viagran hopes to capitalize on what she feels is momentum on economic development and addressing street, drainage, sidewalk and public safety challenges in District 3.

“I want to make sure we stay focused on economic mobility issues and taking care of our infrastructure,” said Viagran, who will be up against the City’s term limit rules if re-elected. “We’ve moved the needle on these issues, but we need more investment.”

Viagran said District 3 would benefit from a comprehensive block-by-block survey of streets, drainage, and sidewalks.

“From this, we could learn what are the exact issues happening right here in that neighborhood,” she added.

Viagran said the residential and commercial growth around the South Side presents both exciting opportunities and challenges in managing that growth.

Viagran said she’d like to see District 3’s institutions of higher learning and employers partner to raise opportunities for area residents to diversify their job skills.

“We need to make connections between areas of under-employment, and where we need to upscale [job] opportunities,” she said.

As for public safety, Viagran plans to continue advocating for a police substation in District 3. The closest substation is west of Interstate 35. She also plans to call for more officers on the streets and to increase outreach to homeless encampments in District 3.

Campos placed second in the 2011 race for District 3. Prior to that, she had established a career as a paralegal, a job that led her to work with attorney Carlos Uresti.

While Uresti launched his own law practice and subsequent political career, Campos was a trusted colleague. After Uresti’s election to the State Senate, Campos was appointed his chief of staff while she oversaw his local law firm office.

Years after Campos stopped working for Uresti, she was subpoenaed in a federal bribery case against him. After being convicted on 11 felony counts in an unrelated federal fraud and money laundering case, Uresti pleaded guilty in the bribery case. Campos said she does not condone any criminal activity for which Uresti was convicted but does not regret working for Uresti.

Campos said being a paralegal and a legislative aide taught her the importance of giving back to the community.

“It makes me feel good when you give back,” Campos said. “[Uresti] taught me how to collaborate with other [government] offices.”

Campos pledged, if elected, to collaborate with District 3 neighborhood leaders to address their issues and initiatives, and she promised she and her Council staff would be “active in the district on a daily basis, not just at City Hall,” regularly attending neighborhood association meetings and holding town halls.

Campos said as a Council member she would focus on maintaining infrastructure and ensuring each constituent’s request is addressed.

“I want to make sure budget monies are spent in an equitable way,” she added. “We’ve neglected our streets for so long.”

Boosting the police department is also a priority for Campos: “We need more officers and to take better care of them.”

Viagran’s campaign is not short on funds. She had $41,971 cash on hand in her April 4 campaign finance report.

Nor is Viagran is short on endorsements. She has support from former District 3 Councilwomen Jennifer Ramos, Debra Guerrero and Linda Billa Burke, State Reps. Roland Gutierrez and Leo Pacheco, State Sen. Jose Menendez, and Bexar County Precinct 1 Commissioner “Chico” Rodriguez.

The City has from Campos only a Jan. 15 finance report. Her campaign had $403 available then.

Campos has support from former District 3 Councilwomen Helen Dutmer and Toni Moorhouse and neighborhood leaders Olga Martinez and Riva Salinas.

Early voting begins April 22.

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Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.