Participating in elections and voting for candidates that resonate with our values is one of the most precious rights we have in this country. This election cycle, the city council and mayoral races have sparked dynamic conversation and debate about a range of issues important to our community. Such robust discussion is healthy for our democracy and demonstrates our overall commitment to civility in how we engage with people, particularly when we do not agree.
The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has been at the forefront of advocating that our elected officials develop policies that ensure our economy will continue to flourish. Our mission to propel business success is about more than just profits and bottom lines, it is about the success of San Antonio. It is about understanding and engaging with a broad cross-section of issues important to our community’s prosperity – that is why the Chamber hosts candidate forums and debates.
Paramount in our work is placing a high value on disseminating accurate and reliable information about candidates and any other initiative on the ballot. For this reason, I am duty bound to express my utter dismay at the grossly misleading content of a San Antonio Police Officer’s Association (SAPOA) mailer in support of Greg Brockhouse that I received at my home. The mail piece includes the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce in a list of prominent individuals, organizations, and Political Action Committees (PACs) that “finance” Ron Nirenberg and his “campaigns.” The Police Union fails to make the critical distinction that the business community, including the Chamber, rallied around the Go Vote No campaign, a community-wide effort to defeat the three City Charter Amendments developed by the Firefighter Union to solely serve their own personal and political interests. The Go Vote No campaign was driven, led and financed by businesses and organizations that employ thousands of our San Antonio residents and that have longstanding histories of focusing not only on the success of their businesses, but on the success of the community we call home. While Mayor Nirenberg did lead the focus on the campaign against the three city charter amendments that were at the center of the November 2018 election, it is not on the ballot for this upcoming run-off election. Distinguishing time frames and what is actually on the ballot is the only honest approach. Conflating the campaigns and misconstruing where the listed entities designated their funds is blatantly false and offensive. (For official information on campaign donors, click here.)
The San Antonio Business Community, which is made-up of thousands of locally grown business, has been and continues to be a respected pillar that has helped shape the direction of our community. It is therefore disingenuous and hypocritical for the SAPOA Political Action Committee to characterize members of our business and philanthropic community as “special interest groups, lobbyists, PACs and Fat Cats.” San Antonio’s business community has consistently shown leadership in creating employment opportunities and advocating and collaborating to address our biggest challenges. Haven for Hope, funding for after school programs, PreK 4 SA, the establishment of UTSA, Texas A&M San Antonio, and Alamo Colleges, our local Food Bank, and the innovative co-working space Geekdom are a snapshot of just a few business-driven initiatives that have collectively benefited hundreds of thousands of individuals across all of San Antonio’s zip codes.
As a former elected official, I understand that campaigns get heated and intense. However, adherence to truth and integrity must reign supreme for candidates and the unions or other groups that support them. The mail piece paid for by the Police Union is a disservice that uses confrontational language to confuse or merge the space between special interests and the truth. At its worst, it is a dishonest tactic that stains our system of elections.
The San Antonio Business Community with and through the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce will continue to advocate for those policies, projects and programs that are led by the highest of ethical and moral standards, are informed by our convictions and raise the quality of life for our residents in an honest and straightforward manner.
President and CEO, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce