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Get to know your May election candidates: District 4

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 4 seat, incumbent Rey Saldaña is vacating the position after eight years in office. Candidates attempting to succeed him include Johnny Arredondo, Adriana Garcia, and Sami Sanchez, among others. Here’s what they had to say:

Johnny Arredondo

  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.

Johnny Arredondo Candidate for City Council District 4. I’m not obligated to any outgoing member because of an endorsement. My main concern is what the people in the district want; not what the city wants.

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

Work to eliminate fees that have an undue burden on business and give all business a voice at the table.

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

It is ridiculous; the city needs to stay out of telling businesses how to run their business.

  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?

We need to start with public agencies and private sectors communicating with each other with data to make a better decision on a transportation system to improve movement. The decision-making on a mode of transportation system must take into account its impact to other modes and vice versa.

  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 city leader not listening and doing what he wants without any clear ideas on how to pay for the plan is irresponsible. Correct, the city doesn’t explain how it is going to pay for the plan but I know how, if he wins, he is going to pay for it. The citizens will continue to foot the bill with outrageous taxes.

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

Answered with question #2. I am not in favor of mandatory sick leave and against a $15 starting wage.

Adriana Garcia

  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.

I’ve called District 4 home for the past 35 years, and ten years ago, when it was time to buy my first home, I chose to stay in District 4. My vision for District 4 is to continue its momentum. I’m willing to invest the time and energy that our community needs to build public/private partnerships to bring much-needed attention and resources to this district. I know that working together with one another, we can set a great direction for District 4, and showcase the great opportunities available.

Being actively engaged is the key to improving our district. I hope to work together with and motivate neighbors to work together with one another to improve our community through a shared vision of opportunity for future generations. I plan to welcome folks who have not traditionally had a seat at the table to work with community and business leaders to create mutually beneficial public/public and public/private partnerships that will enable us to positively impact the future of District 4.

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

I will work together with business and community leaders to showcase San Antonio’s rich culture, honor our military, and continue San Antonio’s economic growth. In the next couple of decades, we will have another million people in San Antonio. Now is the time to plan. I am prepared to work with our extended community to plan for that next million, and I will always advocate for all stakeholders to have a rightful place in that planning.

I grew up in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of our city, and I currently work in the most distressed zip code in San Antonio. District 4 has a 21% poverty rate, according to the latest Impact Report release by SA2020, with the neighboring District 5 at a 33% poverty rate and District 3 with 24%. The northern parts of San Antonio seem to be more fortunate, with lower poverty levels, and I believe we should also work together as a community on more workforce development opportunities.

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

I believe that traditionally, folks who are in municipal government do not have a business background to be able to make decisions and recommendations that will affect those we help represent. Often, well intended policies that are not carefully thought through end up negatively affecting those very folks we are trying to represent. I think that folks participating in municipal government should come to the realization that they are not the experts at everything, and that even a two hour briefing will never be enough to make them the experts and be able to single-handedly cast decisions that will have a lasting effect, without bringing others who are experts in the areas to the table. Being an elected official should be about serving others, and when we don’t take into consideration all of the elements, we are not good stewards of the public trust that was placed in us.

  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 was asked to serve on Connect SA. I respectfully declined. I am not the person that needs to be there to give input- the residents who actually use the service should be the ones most heavily represented. The last time that I used public transportation in San Antonio was for an LSA class field trip, and the time before that, for a City field trip that Councilman Saldana put together. Before that, I believe the last time I used VIA was in middle school and I took the bus to River Center Mall with my cousin because we couldn’t drive. That day, we got mugged at knife point downtown on our way back to the bus stop.

In my life I’ve also been fortunate to travel to more than 30 cities in the United States and I can attest first-hand that I have used safe, effective and efficient multi-modal transportation systems to move throughout those cities. If those cities were able to create these functional systems, there is no reason that we should be unable to do so. It may take some long-term planning, budgeting, commitment and long-term investment, but I would encourage San Antonians to plan beyond our current transportation options and talk to those communities who have made it possible to offer multimodal transportation for their residents.

Now, I must admit that I commuted to UT Austin for 10 years, back and forth on that IH-35 corridor as I was completing my education, and I can tell you that I believe we need a solution to solve regional traffic congestion. I believe that we can work together with our neighboring communities to find the funding and plan how to achieve this.

  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 all have a shared responsibility to care for our world, so that future generations are able to enjoy it too. I know we all want that, and I also understand that we must follow federal guidelines as well. My thoughts about the plan as it currently stands include that we need to involve representatives from every stakeholder group to do thorough and thoughtful research; create cost benefit analyses for each component of the plan, based on input from current market trends; and most importantly, to be transparent. The plan as is does not have clear budgetary implications and does not account for how we will address those needs for our most vulnerable populations, which can’t afford some of the proposed plan. We should also seek to foster meaningful dialogue from an equal number of representatives from each stakeholder group to help create policy that will help us address environmental issues important to us all.

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

I believe that working together, positive change happens. If elected, I would make sure to work with and listen to the business community’s concerns. Our business community provides employment and benefits to our residents. Many of our employers are also great corporate citizens, giving back to our community millions of dollars in help to nonprofit organizations to help our most vulnerable residents. We need to work together on making sure that we nurture these relationships so that businesses stay in our city and continue to help our residents. I commit to working with every stakeholder group on policy that will have a lasting effect- that includes having businesses properly represented at the table before decisions are made.

Sami Sanchez

  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, I’m Sami Sanchez, a San Antonio Native with a passion for empowering others in any way I can. I am a STEM professional, a wife of over ten years to my life partner Michael Sanchez, a mother of two intelligent little humans, Bella (10) and Ava (7), and an active community member.

I am a First-Generation American, strong Latina woman with cerebral palsy from a low-income household raised by a single mom. It was difficult, to say the least. With limited resources, I worked hard to navigate the challenges that came with each marginalized group I inherited at birth. The reason I mention this is to give insight on the skill sets I HAD to gain to overcome, and I didn’t just have to double my efforts, I had to execute them to at least the third power. I’m compassionate3, open-minded3, resourceful3, driven3, adaptable3, to name a few. Due to the environment I grew up in I am determined to be the person I needed growing up, and I strive every day to become a better version of that
person.
I have proven experience in developing and implementing community
programming throughout the city of San Antonio, specifically Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programming in financially disadvantaged areas throughout the City of San Antonio. My roles and responsibilities included but were not limited to grant writing and reporting; planning program goals and objectives; tracking program performance and outcomes; budgeting; purchasing; research; community outreach and partnerships; professional development; developing staff training; and most importantly building meaningful relationships with each student in order to strengthen their self-esteem and increase participation. As a subject matter expert (SME) I used my network to expand opportunities available to students and develop their 21st Century skill sets. I also provided training to staff members and other educators to increase STEM access where I did not implement programming.
I also have a vast knowledge of business operations and strategic planning. My skill set includes: project management, gained as the lead of the data migration for the strategic business unit which included over eight companies. Subsequently, I led the redesign of some operation functions, realigned policies and procedures, designed workflows and automation, and developed training. My role as the sole quality & proposal specialist for the SBU allowed me to be part of every aspect of the contract cycle, including but not limited to business development; proposal management; contract set-up; developing and implementing corrective actions; risk management; internal and external audits;
and contract closeouts.
The skill set I gained overcoming such adversity + proven community outreach experience + in-depth knowledge in business operations and strategic planning = District 4’s Best City Council candidate. I am approachable with interpersonal skills, a mind for innovative and inclusive solutions, great work ethics, and a drive for contributing to a better world.

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

To strengthen San Antonio’s business environment, we must consider multiple contributing elements and variables. The following are high-level steps I would take to enhance San Antonio’s business environment.
Step 1. I would first define how we want to strengthen our business environment. Do we want to expand the number of industries in our city or do we want to become a known ‘hub’ for a few industries?
Step 2. Research the requirements for the industries we would like to
expand/refine for our city.
Step 3. Conduct a Gap Analysis on the city’s capabilities including real property, capital, and workforce.
Step 4. Develop a corrective action plan for the city’s deficiencies to improve capabilities.
Step 5. Approach industry leaders and organizations with a business
development plan explaining why San Antonio is a great fit. Gain new business.
Step 6. Build meaningful relationships with business owners and advocate the importance of company social responsibility.
To sum it up, I would seek out new business from organizations that will provide residents with fair wages and benefits, who are socially responsible and want to contribute to our city’s growth. In turn, I will provide businesses with a capable workforce, attractive real property option, and an environment where their business will thrive.

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

San Antonio municipal government should look after the best interest of its residents. Adopting policies to regulate employer operations regarding wages, compensation, and scheduling can be a way to protect the working class. However, with the current Department of Labor laws and different business classifications, implementing such policies can be a risk and even a liability. How regulated will these policies be?

If it’s to increase the minimum wage for the city, then yes, but we must have a plan in place to mitigate the unintended consequences. I also would agree to sick leave. I highly doubt the city would implement a local wage determination; this type of regulation is something I would oppose. As a municipal government, we want to provide an environment with rules for protection, not total control.

  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 the City of San Antonio (COSA) through an interactive experience; I will take them on a field trip through 5 o’clock traffic. Ha-ha. jokes aside, I would advocate for efficient multi-modal transportation system by consolidating it with other expansion plans. We pride ourselves with being a “City on the Rise,” but if our infrastructure and other logistics are not keeping up, we are going to replace one problem with another. I feel like road construction is responsive, even reactive to our growth. I want our transportation system to be proactive, mitigating our growing pains, because I don’t plan on stopping the growth and neither should they.

  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’s much needed and I support our city’s efforts in combating climate change. The draft has great ideas but is incomplete. I agree that budgeting is necessary as the plan is developing. Either existing city funds need to be set aside for CAAP as the plans are finalized per the city’s budget, or we need to know how much capital we need to raise to implement such strategies. If funds need to be allocated to implement such CAAP, then a fundraising plan needs to be included as an appendix.

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

By building a meaning relationship that benefits both parties. Working together for a solution that provides significant profits and invests in our workforce. I will provide businesses with a capable workforce, attractive real property option, and an environment where their business will thrive. San Antonio has an entrepreneurial essence with valuable resources for small and big companies. As city council, I need to ensure I highlight those resources and implement/expand programs that elevate our workforce.

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