Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan spent her childhood and most of her adult life in District 2, the area she represents now.

She loves her home but also has noticed not much has changed in the area since she was a kid. Streets still need repair. There is no indoor swimming pool in the district and no hospital in the area. All of these things have pushed people who once called District 2 home away, she said.

“We’ve lost so many families,” Andrews-Sullivan said. “I can tell you that from graduating from high school in ’93 and coming back and looking at the people that are in the district now, I rarely see any of my classmates living in the district. And so how do we bring them back?”

On Thursday, Andrews-Sullivan sat down with General Assignment Reporter Jackie Wang for a livestreamed conversation with the San Antonio Report. Andrews-Sullivan won her seat in 2019 after a series of abbreviated terms by her District 2 predecessors. Former councilman William “Cruz” Shaw defeated incumbent Alan Warrick for the seat in 2017 but left before his term expired to serve as an associate judge. Art Hall was appointed in early 2019 to finish Shaw’s term.

One of Andrews-Sullivan’s main priorities is addressing housing access in District 2, she said. She advocated for renovating existing homes to attract more people to move into the area.

“We have some great bones here in the district,” she said. “If we tap into that available stock that we have, we’re starting to speak to the heart of the issue that we have in District 2, which are families and legacies being lost because property taxes are rising, because job growth here in the district is almost null and void. Where do we start to tackle those issues?”

Not having a roof over your head amounts to not only an economic issue but a health crisis as well, Andrews-Sullivan said. And during the coronavirus pandemic, making sure people have a place to live and wash their hands is crucial.

She also addressed the San Antonio Police Department’s budget, recognizing that community members who asked to “defund the police” came away from Thursday’s budget vote feeling dissatisfied. City Council approved the 2021 fiscal year budget that included $7 million more for the police department, due to contract-mandated pay increases. 

But Andrews-Sullivan said she was committed to continuing the conversation about future budgets, police reform, and systemic injustice that has taken place throughout the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May. Other fatal police shootings, such as the death of Damian Lamar Daniels, continue to keep the issue of police reform at top of mind.

“We’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic,” she said. “We’re in the midst of a worldwide racial uprising. And we’re still in the midst of the need to do more for our communities that have been marginalized and just underserved for too long.”

The next Conversations with the Council event will feature Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8) on Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. Register for the event here.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.