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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.

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