Nearly all the ambitious plans Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4) had for her first term on San Antonio’s City Council were pushed to the backburner when the coronavirus pandemic reached San Antonio this year.
During a live-streamed conversation with San Antonio Report, Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick on Tuesday, the first woman to represent District 4 shared her thoughts on being an elected official during this historic time, opportunities for police reform in and outside the police budget, and the devastating toll the coronavirus has taken on hundreds of families – including hers. She lost six cousins to the virus in the past few months.
The pandemic also presents unique challenges for District 4, which includes much of the city’s Southwest Side, as an estimated 23 percent of residents don’t have access to the internet, she said. However, with workforce development and higher education initiatives on the November ballot, District 4 voters have an opportunity to support programs that can raise salaries and create a better quality of life.
“Access to education is going to be the ultimate determinant of how we break the cycle of generational poverty,” Rocha Garcia said. “This might just be a small dent but it will be a dent.”
Additionally, District 4 has some of the most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in the city and consequently, those areas have a disproportionate amount of underlying health conditions, which potentially exacerbate the effects of COVID-19.
When it comes to police reform amid the Black Lives Matter movement, she’s optimistic that changes and improvements even outside the budget process can be made sooner than later.
Some recommendations of a 2016 Council on Police-Community Relations formed by then-Mayor Ivy Taylor haven’t even been implemented yet, she said.
The councilwoman has met with dozens of community stakeholders and has meetings scheduled with former police officers to help inform her perspective on how public safety should be funded in the future, she said.
“I’m preparing myself to be representative of the community as a whole.”