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Get to know your runoff 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. We published the results in a previous blog post, but have now updated the race to reflect the two candidates for the June 8 runoff.

For the District 4 seat, Johnny Arredondo and Adriana Garcia emerged as the two front runners in the May election. Previously, your Chamber hosted a Facebook Live candidate forum between the two candidates, which can be found here.

Here is what they had to say in response to the questionnaire:

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.

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