Local attorney William “Cruz” Shaw will likely resign from his position as chairman of the City of San Antonio’s Zoning Commission in the coming months and announce his candidacy for the District 2 spot on City Council.
The timing of that move, Shaw said Thursday, will be decided on his own terms. Councilman Alan Warrick, the District 2 incumbent, disagrees. He wants Shaw gone now.
After playing phone tag for a couple of weeks, Shaw said he received a text message on Wednesday from Warrick’s Chief of Staff Derrick Roberts, asking him to resign and to respond by 9 a.m. the next day.
Shaw decided to ignore the request.
“If you don’t want me here, then I’ll resign,” Shaw recalled telling leaders of several Eastside neighborhood associations he contacted after receiving the text. “They said, ‘No. You stay, he goes.’”
In a phone interview on Thursday night, Shaw confirmed that he is seriously considering launching a campaign for Warrick’s seat – the inspiration for the councilman’s resignation request. Rumors have been circulating in District 2 and beyond for several months that Shaw intends to challenge Warrick in the May 2017 election.
“Yeah, it’s looking like I’m going to run,” Shaw said, stopping short of a firm commitment. “I’m not announcing yet. It’s going to be on my terms.”
Shaw was appointed to the City’s Zoning Commission by then-District 2 Councilwoman Ivy Taylor in 2013, who became mayor in 2014. Commissioners, like council members, serve two-year terms. Warrick reappointed Shaw in September 2015.
Shaw said he has not started to campaign or fundraise for the District 2 spot. Once he does, he said, he will step down from the commission.
“But until I officially announce (that) … I’m not leaving,” Shaw said. “If he wants me off he’s going to have to kick me off, and bring it in front of City Council.”
Then that’s what Warrick will do.
“Once you start proactively acting towards (election) it’s actually an infraction on the (City) Charter,” Warrick said. “It’s an ethical issue.”
Article XII, section 140 of the City Charter’s General Provisions states:
No appointee of any City board or commission shall continue in such position after becoming a candidate for nomination or election to any City or Bexar County elected office.? (Ord. No. 85965, § 1 (Prop. 4), 5-5-97)
“He lied to me,” Warrick said.
Warrick said Shaw denied interest in the council seat in a February conversation. Rumors grew over the last month and finally, Warrick said, he started to get questions from outside of the typical Eastside “rumor mill.”
“When people from the Northside or Westside – who have nothing to do with Eastside politics – ask me who William Shaw is and if he’s running for office … It became a little much.”
This makes Shaw a candidate, Warrick said, and in violation of the charter. He’ll attempt to file a Council Consideration Request (CCR) tomorrow, by gathering enough signatures to have the full City Council vote on his removal. City Council is now in summer recess for the month of July after holding its final June meeting on Thursday.
Warrick hopes Shaw can be removed without Council action.
“My guess is the City Attorney will take action,” he said. “He doesn’t have to resign. He can be kicked out. I tried to not make it a big deal” by quietly asking for his resignation.
Whether Acting City Attorney Martha Sepeda will act on the matter during the summer recess could be complicated by that fact that a City Attorney will soon fill the office. City Manager Sheryl Sculley introduced Andrew Segovia as the new City Attorney at the Thursday Council meeting. He will not begin his duties until Council approves his hiring in August. Segovia has worked as a corporate attorney at General Motors in Detroit for 25 years, but was born on Devine Street in Lavaca and still has family here.
Until Thursday, Warrick thought Shaw’s campaign was just “bad taste … I just realized today that it was a violation of the charter.”
A “candidate” is defined in the City’s Ethic’s Code as:
“… a person who knowingly and willingly takes affirmative action for the purpose of gaining nomination or election to public office or for the purpose of satisfying financial obligations incurred by the person in connection with the campaign for nomination or election.”
There are several examples of affirmative action provided in the code. Here are the ones especially relevant to the District 2 situation:
…(3) The making of a public announcement of a definite intent to run for public office in a particular election, regardless of whether the specific office is mentioned in the announcement;
(4) Before a public announcement of intent, the making of a statement of definite intent to run for public office and the soliciting of support by letter or other mode of communication; and
(5) The soliciting or accepting of a campaign contribution or the making of a campaign expenditure.
Shaw said he is not campaigning or soliciting or accepting political contributions. He said he is exploring a run for the District 2 office, but has yet to reach a final decision.
Warrick cites the intensity of the rumors as evidence of Shaw’s intent, and said he believes the Zoning Commission chairman has verbally solicited support from members of the Eastside community and elsewhere in the city.
Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association President Brian Dillard, while speaking on stage at Centro San Antonio’s Build Your Own Bond event at the Pearl Stable Thursday evening, said that Warrick will be looking to fill two important positions soon – one on the citizen’s advisory committee for the 2017 Municipal Bond and one on the Zoning Commission.
“Are you going to lobby Councilman Warrick to put you or another member of the neighborhood association on the citizen’s committee for the bond?” asked Rivard Report Director Robert Rivard, who was serving as the panel moderator.
“Well, since it sounds like he’s kicking off our Zoning Commissioner, then I might lobby for a position there,” Dillard told the crowd of more than 150 people. “Yeah, we’re pushing for him to get some folks on the bond committee.”
In a phone interview later Thursday night, Dillard declined to comment on a possible District 2 race with Shaw challenging the incumbent Warrick.
“There have been a lot of messages being passed around about (Shaw) getting pulled off because of some rumors about him running,” Dillard said. “Shaw is a good zoning commissioner, he’s supportive of our neighborhood. I don’t think he should resign.”
Shaw and Warrick have had very little interaction since he was appointed, Shaw said.
“We don’t talk at all,” he said, recalling one or two times when Warrick has expressed an opinion on a zoning case. “I’m not sure what he’s thinking. On any kind of committee or commission, even on Council, you’re supposed to be there for the community, for an ongoing dialogue. … I’m not sure if (Warrick) is a firm believer of that.”
However the current dispute is resolved, a competitive District 2 race seems likely. The Eastside, home to the city’s largest concentration of African-American residents, has become the recipient of unprecedented federal investment and is seeing more private sector investment and infill development than at any other time in recent history. Yet it remains one of the poorest areas of the city, with a high crime rate, large numbers of vacant buildings and higher unemployment. Local leaders and residents cite a history of racial segregation and disinvestment in infrastructure, and worry now about preserving the area’s culture and protecting its lower-income residents and aging residents as more educated and affluent people move into Eastside neighborhoods.
Top image: Zoning Commission Chairman William Shaw (D2). Photo by Scott Ball.