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Get to know your May election candidates: Mayoral Race

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.

In the mayoral race, incumbent Ron Nirenberg faces challenges from District 6 councilman Greg Brockhouse, Juan Carlos Castanuela, Michael Idrogo, Matt Pina, and John Velasquez, among others. Here is what they had to say:

Ron Nirenberg, Incumbent Mayor

  1. Please introduce yourself and share why you are running for Mayor of San Antonio, including why you feel you are the best candidate for the position.

I bring years of experience in business and policy to America’s seventh largest city. Under my leadership, San Antonio’s growth has accelerated to make it the fastest growing city in America.

Since I’ve become Mayor, over 40,000 jobs have been created and we’re at near full employment. More San Antonians are working today than ever before. Crime rates that were at a 25-year high when I took office have fallen to a 30-year low.

I hold degrees from Trinity University and the University of Pennsylvania. I served as a program director for the Annenberg Public Policy Center, managed Trinity University’s KRTU-FM and founded two small businesses.

My collaborative, results-oriented approach to governing, my drive to improve my city and my faith in the people of San Antonio shape my efforts to build a great 21st Century American city – and San Antonio is thriving and prospering in the process.

  1. What steps would you take as Mayor to strengthen the City’s business environment?

I will work to prevent public safety unions from getting undue influence at City Hall. I will continue to be fiscally responsible with tax dollars. I continue pursuing economic development opportunities, especially in targeted sectors. And I bring a level of stability and predictability that no other candidate can match.

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

I do not believe it is the city’s place to dictate wages and benefits to local businesses.

  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 recently introduced ConnectSA, a framework for comprehensive solutions that is the most innovative transportation plan San Antonio has ever seen. We’re in the public input phase of the plan now, and when that is finished, we’ll take it to voters for their approval next year.

  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?

The current iteration of CAAP is neither statutory nor is it a set of dictates. It is a set of goals to clean up our air and hopefully make San Antonio carbon neutral over the next 30 years. This is a priority for Fortune 500 companies looking to expand or relocate, for the Pentagon and our national defense, and it’s the right thing to do. What the CAAP does is look at where we’d like to be in 30 years and uses various industries’ own projections of where they see themselves and their products in 30 years to see how we get there. As we move to the implementation phase, there will be full cost/benefit analyses before any specific policies are adopted.

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

I believe we need to have better and more proactive communication between City Hall and the business community. We should not automatically assume an adversarial relationship. There is universal interest in economic growth, shared prosperity and a stable, predictable business climate and we should work together towards all those goals.

Greg Brockhouse, District 6 Councilman

  1. Please introduce yourself and share why you are running for Mayor of San Antonio, including why you feel you are the best candidate for the position.

I am a lifelong San Antonio resident, active duty Air Force veteran, father,
husband and I currently represent District 6 on the City Council. I feel I am the best candidate because I know and understand this City and I am prepared to take the focus back to neighborhoods and basic city services. I also recognize, more so than any other Council member, the importance of partnering with the business community to obtain the goals that will build and grow our community. I am running to focus on the following:
1. Wages and job creation.
2. Lower property taxes and fees.
3. Public Safety.
4. Infrastructure.
5. Uniting the City team. Focusing on team building, morale, and pay and benefits.

  1. What steps would you take as Mayor to strengthen the City’s business environment?

The best work we can do as a Council is to streamline development and growth opportunities. I would immediately focus on deregulation of our permitting processes and fee structure. I would focus on ramping up our incentive opportunities to all sizes of businesses, with a special focus on small, locally owned businesses. I would also put an emphasis on workforce education to push a “hire local” strategy. I have consistently been the number one voice on City Council for pro-business legislation because I believe partnering with the business community is the answer to many of our social problems, such as housing and transportation. An energized business community that believes in City Hall means better wages and jobs for employees, who are our residents.

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

I am clearly on the record as opposing Paid Sick Leave, predictive scheduling or any other legislation that places City Hall in the middle of business policy that is best left to the business community. I will make sure City Hall knows its place and creates the environment for business success with deregulation and cost abatement for growth and investment. City Hall doesn’t create one job, the business community does, and I will make sure City Hall remembers that.

  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 rely on VIA and mastering our public transportation system first. That means increasing their allotment for taxation to its maximum potential. VIA has had nearly half the funding over the last 10 years of our big city counterparts in the State. That equals billions less to do the job and this cannot continue. Following that, we must embrace emerging technologies and be very deliberate in our game plan. The answer is not additional taxation, tolling or user fees. We must partner with agencies like SAMCo and AAMPO to allocate dollars to the appropriate capacity building projects as well. I am a supporter of bike lanes and walkable communities, but we cannot make that the priority of our policy.

  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?

The CAAP needs a full cost analysis on every single item it proposes before ANY action is taken on implementation. At this point, I am opposed to the CAAP and will continue to do so if it negatively affects the cost of living for any San Antonio resident. I will also do the same for any effects on our business community. We all want to ensure we are utilizing renewable energy sources, advocating for clean air and water and following the necessary steps to protect our environment. However, these goals must be done within the confines of cost analysis, protection of taxpayer resources and common sense.

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

The first and most important step is inclusion. For the last few years, the
business community is not at the table on important issues that affect businesses and residents. I will close that gap by including the business community and doing exactly what I say. Consistency in our policy is important and we must not, as a Council, do things without the advice of the experts.

Juan Carlos Castanuela

  1. Please introduce yourself and share why you are running for Mayor of San Antonio, including why you feel you are the best candidate for the position.

My name is Juan Carlos Castanuela, I was born and raised here in San Antonio. I attended Edgewood ISD and then I went to Palo Alto Community College for two years, after that I entered the workforce. I had to start working two jobs to help my family pay the bills. I am the best candidate because I know first hand how it feels to live in poverty being raised by a single parent. I am the people’s Mayor first. I understand what San Antonio needs right now.

  1. What steps would you take as Mayor to strengthen the City’s business environment?

Give incentives to help businesses hire people from San Antonio, not from other cities.

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

My thoughts are state government of Texas are always going to do what is in the best interest of the businesses and not the employees.

  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?

Hard Question.. I would have to say one word “kaizen” with transportation leaders how to make a transportation system around the city with a low cost and doesn’t require to much maintenance.

  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?

I think it is a good idea as a whole but needs to be looked into some more.

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

I plan to work hand and hand with the business community. San Antonio needs to come together as a whole and fairly.

Michael Idrogo

  1. Please introduce yourself and share why you are running for Mayor of San Antonio, including why you feel you are the best candidate for the position.

Michael Idrogo, Navy commander combat veteran of foreign wars; aviator; commander & sailed aircraft carriers to other side of world and back; deputized by U.S. Federal Judge and worked at Federal courts; attended law school; also worked with Carabinieri in Italy [Italian version of F.B.I.]; top management with 3 major airlines; satellite telecommunications (broadcasting 10 TV & 3 radio channels from Italy to North America); received permit for U.S. Secretary of Energy; master of trans-ocean ketch sailing yacht; numerous medals/service awards. We used high technology to find any submarine in the Pacific (Pacific larger than all world land surface area combined!);  know how to use high tech for ZERO CRIME in San Antonio.  Know how for synchronized traffic lights (world use since 1960s) for less traffic congestion (more productivity for San Antonio businesses!!)  San Antonio 3 decades behind; will develop.  The coast is Texas’ number one tourist destination;  years ago suggested extending Riverwalk to Brackenridge Park;  SEEK extending Riverwalk to the Texas Coast.. main focus on San Antonio River canal to connect San Antonio with nation’s inland waterway system (including intracoastal waterway; Mississippi River; Great Lakes; etc.) All the tractor-trailers AND TRAINS across America make up only 3% of traffic on America’s inland waterway system. San Antonio would become the western-most warm water port for America’s inland waterway system – a national/world magnet for trucking companies;  air cargo.  Ship traffic can be seen on http://marinetraffic.com  . Panama Canal connection options. San Antonio river canal will put almost every nation next door to San Antonio – ship transport is least expensive of all.  Seek implementation of monorail in San Antonio;  a monorail train can move 1000 persons; (25 city buses required to carry the same number); high speed of 80 mph; transport at a higher level gliding above vehicle traffic stuck below at red lights; monorails have operated for decades without drivers; far less expense than subway or light rail; far greater safety. Advocate high speed rail; initially to Austin [with Apple in Austin, would be nice to have some Apple employees living in San Antonio].  Will seek to initiate London Paris Europe non-stops [London = financial capital of the world]; BREXIT opportunity for San Antonio to enter United Kingdom; know how to increase airport boardings from 8 million to at least 29 million per year;  will provide 4 times more tourists = more money in San Antonio pockets; and tons more AIRLINE capabilities!!  See a win-win benefit for private company space exploration/space tourism and San Antonio.  Seek to have most all homes able to sell solar/wind electricity to electric company.  Seek  4 year degrees at San Antonio college; done for decades in other cities. Texas Attorney General announced investigation over CHICK-FIL-A banned from airport by Mayor and City Council. Forget them! Vote Michael Idrogo!  Will provide more jobs.  Movie/film studios. Recording studios.  Patent, copyrights, trademarks. And much more development.  Etc., etc.  Will make San Antonio into best city in Texas! Agenda for building San Antonio into economic powerhouse!

  1. What steps would you take as Mayor to strengthen the City’s business environment?

Whatever businesses want;  they will get it from me.

British Airways in Austin — NOT SO in San Antonio!!

Michael Idrogo, candidate for mayor of San Antonio:

“I can do so in San Antonio!  I’ve worked in top management at 3 major airlines.”

Austin Celebrates Five Years of British Airways Flights

https://airlinegeeks.com/2019/03/18/austin-celebrates-five-years-of-transatlantic-flights/

British Airways Flys 747s To Austin!

https://onemileatatime.com/british-airways-747-austin/

“The current Mayor, city council, and any other office holder in the San Antonio have no clue how to much better utilize

San Antonio’s airport neither how airlines operate nor how to attract major airlines to San Antonio.”

“Decades ago, when I started with a major airline.. the starting pay was $22 an hour.  Very few jobs in San Antonio have that kind of starting pay.”

“I used to fly a non-stop 747 out to HAWAII for the weekend from Houston when I worked at Continental Airlines/Texas Air headquarters in Houston.”

“More tourists = more money in the pockets of San Antonians!”

“I can increase the airline passenger boardings from 8 million per year to at least 29 million per year in San Antonio.” — Michael Idrogo

Vote MICHAEL IDROGO for Mayor, San Antonio, Texas

US Navy commander combat veteran of foreign wars

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

“Municipal corporation” is a legal “person”;  business corporations are private company legal “persons”;  it is completely UNLAWFUL for municipal corporation to regulate employer (private) operations.  FBI should arrest for DEPRIVATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER COLOR OF LAW (18USC242; 18USC241; 42USC1983; 42USC1981; gay wedding cake versus religious belief, U.S. Supreme Court; Ricci v. DeStefano, U.S. Supreme Court; etc.).

  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?

Know how for synchronized traffic lights (world use since 1960s) for less traffic congestion (more productivity for San Antonio businesses!!)  San Antonio 3 decades behind; will develop.  The coast is Texas’ number one tourist destination;  years ago suggested extending Riverwalk to Brackenridge Park;  SEEK extending Riverwalk to the Texas Coast.. main focus on San Antonio River canal to connect San Antonio with nation’s inland waterway system (including intracoastal waterway; Mississippi River; Great Lakes; etc.) All the tractor-trailers AND TRAINS across America make up only 3% of traffic on America’s inland waterway system. San Antonio would become the western-most warm water port for America’s inland waterway system – a national/world magnet for trucking companies;  air cargo.  Ship traffic can be seen on http://marinetraffic.com  . Panama Canal connection options. San Antonio river canal will put almost every nation next door to San Antonio – ship transport is least expensive of all.  Seek implementation of monorail in San Antonio;  a monorail train can move 1000 persons; (25 city buses required to carry the same number); high speed of 80 mph; transport at a higher level gliding above vehicle traffic stuck below at red lights; monorails have operated for decades without drivers; far less expense than subway or light rail; far greater safety. Advocate high speed rail; initially to Austin [with Apple in Austin, would be nice to have some Apple employees living in San Antonio].  Will seek to initiate London Paris Europe non-stops [London = financial capital of the world]; BREXIT opportunity for San Antonio to enter United Kingdom; know how to increase airport boardings from 8 million to at least 29 million per year;  will provide 4 times more tourists = more money in San Antonio pockets; and tons more AIRLINE capabilities!!  See a win-win benefit for private company space exploration/space tourism and San Antonio.  Seek to have most all homes able to sell solar/wind electricity to electric company.  Seek  4 year degrees at San Antonio college; done for decades in other cities. Texas Attorney General announced investigation over CHICK-FIL-A banned from airport by Mayor and City Council. Forget them! Vote Michael Idrogo!  Will provide more jobs.  Movie/film studios. Recording studios.  Patent, copyrights, trademarks. And much more development.  Etc., etc.  Will make San Antonio into best city in Texas! Agenda for building San Antonio into economic powerhouse!

  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?

Will uncap that plan and throw it in the trash to come up with a better plan by working directly with the Chamber.

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

I will provide the leadership for the city council and the business community can interact with me directly to strengthen the relationship.

Matt Pina

  1. Please introduce yourself and share why you are running for Mayor of San Antonio, including why you feel you are the best candidate for the position.

I’m a local resident who both grew up and was educated in our great city of San Antonio. I believe in agency and individual choice, these are the only ways we can create a society where we have the equality, care, traditions, and loyalty our families and friends deserve. I have been involved with our various communities throughout our city and remain the only candidate who can empathize with their plights.

  1. What steps would you take as Mayor to strengthen the City’s business environment?

Governments should aim for a neutral monetary policy oriented toward long-run economic growth, by gradual expansion of the money supply. The general price level of goods and services is directly proportional to the amount of money in circulation. So when governments give easy credit or have tax and spend policies, like we currently due, we create unintended negative effects. It is my position to put a stop to these policies and create a more prosperous economic environment for our city.

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

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results. Centralized planning is inherently undemocratic because it requires “that the will of a small minority be imposed upon the people” the subjective choices of individuals including individual knowledge, time, expectation and other subjective factors cause all economic phenomena. These types of polices diminish the money supply that exists in our area and takes away from the agency of the individual business. Over time these burdens are eventually tolled on the poor and the very people these policies were supposed to help.

  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?

As I was a member of the transportation advisory board a start would be to ensure that there were members appointed to each board position. We had vacancies for the whole term, our currently elected officials were responsible for this. We need to listen to the transportation business that already operate in this city. If you want government to do things well, don’t ask it to do too much. But we should be at least be working with what we have already.

  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?

Many proponents of government action should take note that the more we ask our government to do, the more diminishing our effort will be. The whole point of the agreement is to give our current city council a climate friendly face with out having to do much. Many of the actions taken in the plan have no insight into the unintended consequences of its actions and show a lack of understanding of the spontaneous order that occurs in societies. According to the CAAP 65 percent of our green house gases come from our landfill. So by simply aiming for a zero some waste facility we could significantly help with our environment with out putting undue burden on the individual choices of our citizens and businesses.

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

I have an open door policy with all citizens of San Antonio. That being said the government’s role in the guidance of the economy should be restricted severely. Good government only functions well when elected officials act like facilitators rather than dictators. So I ask from the commitment of the community on one major thing, to communicate your needs.

John Velasquez

  1. Please introduce yourself and share why you are running for Mayor of San Antonio, including why you feel you are the best candidate for the position.

I am Dr. John Velasquez, licensed clinical psychologist. I am running for Mayor because I know the *people* of Texas, I know the *people* of San Antonio, and I know how to help *people* solve their own problems. I was born in Texas and received my college education at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.  I was professor at Baylor University in Waco, TX and the University of the Incarnate Word for 16 years. I have taught thousands of college students and treated thousands of patients in San Antonio. This means I know the *true* life histories of those I’ve met and all their family members (hundreds of thousands of people in San Antonio). I know San Antonio best of all candidates. The hubris of city government is that government must solve people’s problems, and while there are vital services the COSA must perform, *people* can do more for their City. People must seek mental health services and they must change their transportation behavior. With significant changes in just these two areas can have the greatest impact of all city programs, policies and future plans (even if everything else remained the same). Psychological science offers behavioral options that people can choose to help themselves improve their health, work place productivity, reduce criminal behavior, and enhance family functioning. All of these will make San Antonio a healthy and safe city. The hubris of politics and campaigning tells us to believe that a good leader takes the right stand on specific policies. I represent the type of leader with the ability to learn, adapt, consult, problem-solve, (not personalize issues), and inspire people to thrive.

  1. What steps would you take as Mayor to strengthen the City’s business environment?

If we improve the health of the workforce through improved mental health, the business environment is strengthened. There is a large segment of the workforce who are military veterans. In my current work I conduct disability exams for veterans as a psychologist contractor for the VA. These workers can do better in the workforce if their mental health is evaluated and treated. In terms of the VA treatment through Audie Murphy Hospital and Frank Tejeda Clinic (and all the regional clinics), veterans need to have their mental health disability claims completed. Many can qualify for treatment but only if they get their mental health disability exams completed. Thousands of veterans are not getting treatment. The impact of their mental health is affecting their spouses who are working. The spouses can be more productive in their workplace if their veteran spouses get necessary mental health care. This issue is not being address in the current political climate. http://www.workplacementalhealth.org/News-Events/Blog/November-2018/Managing-Optimal-Work-Performance-Through-Behavior

I will work with corporate partners to educate them to understand *their* role in addressing their workers’ mental health.  For example, instead of negatively evaluating workplace poor performance, seek to find the reasons for the decline in workplace performance and help the employee seek appropriate treatment, IN THE SAME WAY, we help employees seek medical care. I am the perfect person to address, educate and persuade employers to understand this critical issue.

Also, *all* employers need to allow their employees to get to work when they can and put aside the age old notion that if you are one minute late this is a problem. We have a congestion problem people! To expect everyone to behave in exactly the same way is oppressive, irrational and not productive *for the workplace*. If an employee gets to work ten minutes late, then they should work ten minutes later.

I will work with the school districts to start the school schedule one hour later to allow the future employees of San Antonio to get appropriate sleep and allow their parents (workers) to have ample time to get their children (future employees) to school without fighting the traffic congestion we now see. These employees (parents) will arrive at work much less *stressed* and ready to perform in the workplace.  No other candidate is talking about improving the workplace with these scientifically proven psychological principles. I am the only candidate to understand implement these policies.

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

See my response to #2 regarding “scheduling”. The first wage issue to address is to raise the hourly wage of restaurants and bars who serve the tourist industry to “minimum wage”. Also studies have shown that employees who go to work sick, infect their customers. This is a health and mental health issue. Sick leave must be allowed.

https://www.osha.gov/dts/guidance/flu/nonhealthcare.html
In fact, sick leave must also be allow for parents of sick children.

  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?

Yes, but I would like to see the Mayor and City Council member and CEOs ride the bus. If they do this, then the “multi-modal” system will work. I lived in Seattle Washington for a year and rode the bus *everyday* because the routes were frequent and dependable. On the bus, I saw doctors, nurses, lawyers and psychologists riding the bus. This does *not* happen in San Antonio. When that does happen in the future, a transportation system in SA will work. When the rich and powerful are willing to mingle and sit shoulder to shoulder with the average person (below median income), then a transportation system will work. Otherwise any transportation system will *not* work. Ask members of the Chamber if they are willing to “ride the bus”?

  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?

The costs will be ASTRONOMICAL. And the huge use of resources will be immeasurable and *damaging* to the planet. The *hubris* of the plan is that “we already know what needs to be done”. The over-reliance on technology and methods which force changes on the population will not work. They have not worked so far, so why would we continue to use the same methods? We need to use psychological principles of science to implement BEHAVIORAL changes in how we drive, when we drive, how much we drive, and whether to drive at all IS the answer. Texans will not get out of their cars, so stop trying to get them out of their cars. Also, behavioral methods of change in driver behavior will improve “road rage” and thus improve the safety of all drivers. I have a copyrighted plan for improving traffic congestion that begin to work *now*, not 30 years from now.

The traffic and climate change plans I have can be funded by an increase in the sales tax. Former mayor Julian Castro demonstrated how a 1/8 of a cent can pay for a CITY OWNED pre-K program. These young students have better than average test scores and have brought over $70,000,000 (million) federal dollars back to San Antonio just due to improved attendance of these “graduates” of the PreK4SA program. In a similar way, an increase in the sales tax can fund a CITY OWNED mental health system to take care of COSA citizen *at no cost* so that we can all have immediately-accessible mental health care. For every dollar a community invests in mental health care, there is a $7 dollar return in improved health, workplace productivity, enhanced family functioning, and improved academic functioning. This will improve the long-term quality of the workforce.

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

See all the answers above, but in addition, the business community needs to be willing to take direction from community oriented approaches to improve workplace performance and health. The business community needs to change and do its part. “Ask not what your City government can do for you, but what you can do for your City.”

 

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