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Get to know your May election candidates: District 2

Voting is a vital part of our democracy and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce encourages all residents to educate themselves and cast ballots for city council and mayoral candidates.

We sent out a questionnaire to all candidates running in municipal elections this year. In the questionnaire, we asked candidates about the city’s relationship with the business community, transportation, and the Climate Action and Adaption Plan.

For the District 2 City Council seat, outgoing interim councilman Art Hall will vacate the office for the victor. Candidates for the seat include Jada Andrews-Sullivan and Denise Gutierrez-Homer, among others. Here’s what they had to say:

Jada Andrews-Sullivan

  1. Please introduce yourself and share why you are seeking a seat on the San Antonio City Council, including why you feel you are the best candidate for the position.

Greetings my name is Jada Andrews-Sullivan, I’m a mother, disabled Army Veteran, small business owner/operator, NAACP Member, MLK Jr Commission volunteer, Domestic/Sexual Assault Advocate and Regional Director of Southwest for Alpha Omega Theta Sorority Inc. I am seeking the District 2 City Council seat as a life long resident of District 2. It’s not just home it is family, community and we deserve accountability, accessibility, full transparency and action. District 2 has seen City Council Members come and go without any of the agendas promised fulfilled. It is time that we have someone who will step up, speak out and advocate for us all. I am that person, my heart is genuine in the representation my community will receive and there’s no selling out, no giving up but complete care and concern for our community to receive an uplifting, revitalization and restoration of pride. It’s not about me but definitely about our community.

  1. What steps would you take as a city council member to strengthen the City’s business environment?

By supporting businesses we help local businesses grow and attract new businesses. By doing this we can help businesses create jobs, encourage entrepreneurship, enhance fiscal sustainability by expanding and diversifying the tax base, and improve quality of life with new services and amenities. Encouraging entrepreneurs to start businesses gives people power over their own lives and lets them build wealth in their own communities. Embrace diversity, foster inclusiveness ensuring that diversity is not divisive. Forge a partnership where people, public, private work together to ensure they are fully improving the quality of life for everyone. Promote innovative and non-conventional solutions. Plan for long-term growth and renewal, make efficient use of available scarce land.

  1. What are your thoughts on municipal government adopting policies to regulate employer operations regarding wages, compensation and scheduling?

Our businesses are already over saturated with State/Federal regulations when it comes to policies that regulate operations of wages, compensation and scheduling. We as a City Council should be looking into policies that will enhance and add vitality to our businesses, enriching the communities in which they provide their services; so that they may be able to hire,expand, educate and build more business. Not making it more difficult to operate and sustain themselves.

  1. How would you encourage the City of San Antonio to develop safe, effective and efficient multi-modal transportation systems that moves people throughout San Antonio and this region?

With a vastly growing city we must ensure safe and reliable means of transportation for all. Parked bicycle stations,and operating lanes, HOV Lanes, faster bus routes (express non-stop park and ride), 24 hour bus service, better routing of drop-off and pick-up points for Taxi, Limo, Uber and Lyft. More Van Pool and Car Pool on demand service vehicles and locations; River barge downtown employee drop off and pick up for downtown workers. As we grow our public transportation services the use of non track wheeled cars, double decker bus, miniature buses, extended buses and maybe we could go back and look at rail services.

  1. In January the City of San Antonio unveiled its draft Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP). The Chamber is concerned with that the draft plan does not address how we – as a city – are going to pay for the plan. What are your thoughts on CAAP?

We must realize the reality in the world that the climate is changing, and we must do something now to combat it but at what expense. How will this effect the long-term economic development and economic growth we are aiming to achieve? With CPS still owing hundreds of thousands dollars on property and plants, how much would closing them down cost and would those cost be passed on to tax payers? Would our local businesses have to eat the cost of upgrading facilities to the plan and what time frame would they have to complete the upgrades? Will there be any tax incentives afforded to the business community for upgrading within the required allotted time? There just needs to be be a cleaner and clearer outline.

  1. If elected, how will you work to strengthen the relationship between the city council and the business community?

As City Councilwoman, targeting key economic sectors for growth allows the city to direct their economic development efforts in a strategic manner, assisting in using our resources wisely in order to build our community businesses. Supporting our workers through workforce development is important to ensuring that residents can successfully compete for employment opportunities and that all residents have the opportunity to benefit in economic prosperity. Supporting Quality of Life, listening to the needs of both; residents and businesses that value a community with a good quality of life. Champion a economic development plan to include a broad, long-term strategies that set overall direction and objectives for any economic development related activities and investments. Full transparency among city and businesses can help ensure that all available resources strengthen our business communities. Implement a monthly visit a business day throughout our city districts.

Denise Gutierrez-Homer

  1. Please introduce yourself and share why you are seeking a seat on the San Antonio City Council, including why you feel you are the best candidate for the position.

Hello, my name Denise Gutierrez-Homer, born and raised in Brownville, Texas until I chose to attend UTSA, in 1983. Majoring in Political Science and minoring in Fine Arts, graduating in 1987. I taught Computer Science in the Elementary level in NISD for a few years until I chose a unique path in creating my own Decorative Design Studio. Working in both residential and commercial construction throughout San Antonio and Texas, my experience with budgets and developments, structured schedules and facilitating with crews and clients are essential elements I will bring to District 2. I also enjoy working with local non-profits such as the Brackenridge Park Conservancy, Missions, the San Antonio Conservation Society and our local Ecumenical Center with fund-raising and awareness. Today, I’m an Artist and Community Activist, addressing neighborhood issues and development.

  1. What steps would you take as a city council member to strengthen the City’s business environment?

I would ensure that all potential new businesses would feel welcomed throughout San Antonio.  Efforts to provide help in their relocation, employee housing and providing skilled labor opportunities for both employees and employers would confirm San Antonio as their choice.  I would make sure Business construction projects that increased local employment would be given priority on all “One Stop” building permit procedures.  I would make sure that business utility connections would be the entry point for a coordinated City Government partnered with the Chamber effort to facilitate a rapid integration into the Business Community including networking contacts.  Earlier identification of potential “START UPS” and business relocations should be the business of the Chamber.  However, once plugged into the City, I would make sure the process of association will run smoothly.

  1. What are your thoughts on municipal government adopting policies to regulate employer operations regarding wages, compensation and scheduling?

San Antonio would follow the guidelines set by the State.  Pushing these policies to a new level can create financial issues for the tax payer who needs to voice their opinion regarding their pocketbook.  These policies are not City business.  Not to advocate, not to litigate, not to socially engineer.  My neighbors don’t want the $Bill$ for that.  How much are they going to have to pay for the Chic-Fil-A fiasco.  Loss of Federal monies, attorney fees, and they won’t even get a sandwich out of the deal…

  1. How would you encourage the City of San Antonio to develop safe, effective and efficient multi-modal transportation systems that moves people throughout San Antonio and this region?

I would encourage competition and options for transportation.  Currently, VIA has yet  to show a profit and is reliant on Federal Grants.  Private businesses often provide better choices, reliability while adding local tax to City infrastructure needs.  Scheduling VIA rides during work hours such as morning routes and evening routes are a must, but daytime usage often sees empty buses at city bus stops.  Routine Hubs should include commuters from Boerne, New Braunfels, Highway 46, with Share-rides  and optional commutes to Austin for those who work or attend UT, or Austin events.   Larger business such USAA & AT&T should provide financial incentives or own buses to transport their employees.    This is a private enterprise and free market fix.  Eliminating choices is wrong. Picking winners is wrong.  Let the market decide and encourage cleanest most efficient answers.  Don’t dictate a 2050 plan with no fossil fuel option.

  1. In January the City of San Antonio unveiled its draft Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP). The Chamber is concerned with that the draft plan does not address how we – as a city – are going to pay for the plan. What are your thoughts on CAAP?

As a citizen first, business owner, and home owner, the CAAP and its policies are over-reaching personal choice, financial and emotional security for everyone in San Antonio.   As a business owner, who depends on insuring my utilities will stay on through any weather climate issue, a backup would be essential using generators and backup storage.   Our power grid is safe and provides the needed infrastructure for all social economic demographics forcing electric vehicles, solar panels, and other expensive policies are not feasible for those financially strapped.  Fossil fuels are not the enemy, but far-fetched environmental fear initiatives will only hurt the well-being and economic growth of San Antonio.  Eighty-four pages of policies and not one detail oriented financial disclosure for the taxpayer.

  1. If elected, how will you work to strengthen the relationship between the city council and the business community?

As a business owner, I would bring firsthand knowledge of the economics steps needed to create, build, pay employees, grow clientele, while creating personal relationships within the community.  This experience and ongoing relationship would be evident as a City Council representative dealing with other business people.  My experience in construction, education, the Arts, Historic Preservation and my husband’s Medical Practice gives me insight to many areas that make San Antonio home.  Currently, no one else in this Council has a payroll account that comes out of their business account. Building a business one brick at a time, one employee at a time and seeing it grow, provide community service, health insurance, to my employees and as an outgrowth of the community service you provide employee benefits, better than the competition to retain the best.  That’s not a City Policy, nor should it ever be.  I will be the voice of the business community.  And when we reach summer peak load and the loss of the Dilly Plant it will not only cost San Antonio tax payers the premium inconvenience generated at peak loads but forced us all to buy power at the same inflated price if available. No new Plants are now online.

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