AP NEWS

Nirenberg for mayor

March 30, 2019

Mayor Ron Nirenberg deserves a second term.

He deserves more time to deliver on his abundance of vision for San Antonio. He deserves more time to work with new City Manager Erik Walsh on a range of complicated issues. He deserves more time as mayor because he is an excellent representative of this community — articulate, forthright and passionate. Nirenberg deserves re-election because he exudes calm, confidence and compassion. All are necessary qualities for a mayor.

Nirenberg faces a slew of challengers this spring, none of whom match his knowledge of city government and his vision. They are mainly perennial candidates or little-known residents who genuinely want to improve San Antonio but lack the political experience and policy understanding for the job.

The challenger perceived to be the most significant, District 6 City Councilman Greg Brockhouse, has no compelling vision for city government, backed recent deleterious charter changes, is far too close to the public safety unions and is dogged by separate past allegations of domestic violence involving an ex-wife and his current wife.

Even before the reporting of the domestic violence claims, which are disconcerting, Brockhouse’s support of the charter changes made him a poor choice for mayor. Those changes — in the two of three amendments that passed — limit the pay and tenure of San Antonio’s city manager and give the fire union the sole right to declare arbitration. They have endangered the city’s credit rating — Fitch has already downgraded the city — and destabilized the community, prompting the retirement of City Manager Sheryl Sculley.

The propositions were the creation of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, whose leader has called Brockhouse “our guy.” Hardly surprising since Brockhouse had been a consultant for the fire and police unions prior to his election to City Council. But here’s a question voters should wonder: Just how independent could the fire union’s “guy” be as mayor for the entire city when the city and union have yet to arrive at a contract?

Brockhouse has been a bit confusing about the charter changes. He endorsed all three and yet has said he wants to revisit the limits on city manager pay and tenure. He has also expressed reservations about Proposition A. It did not pass, but it would have dramatically lowered the signature threshold for referendums, opening the door for special interests to have their way at City Hall. Meanwhile, Nirenberg fought the charter changes with everything he had.

So, yes, it might be a two-person race, but there is such a chasmic qualification gap between the candidates, there really is no choice. It’s Nirenberg all the way.

As we mentioned earlier, Nirenberg’s greatest strength is his vision. It’s evident in his endorsement of an Alamo master plan that will bring proper reverence and dignity to this hallowed ground in the heart of downtown. It’s evident in his burgeoning transit plan, ConnectSA, which will go to voters in November 2020 if he is re-elected. It’s evident in the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, an aspirational policy to reduce heat-trapping emissions in this community. It’s evident in his creation of a Housing Policy Task Force, which seeks to identify long-term housing solutions for those displaced by gentrification.

Nirenberg deserves more time to make these policy ideas real.

We do have a criticism, though. As visionary as Nirenberg is at the 10,000-foot level, he has been painfully slow to get down to the nitty-gritty of being mayor. Too often, he has allowed small issues to fester and become much larger symbols of perceived city imperiousness in the community. Consider the ongoing litigation over development around the restored and iconic Hays Street Bridge, but also the lengthy feud between the city and Bexar County over the county’s new Justice Intake and Assessment Center at the jail, and a failure to recognize community angst over former City Manager Sheryl Sculley’s compensation of $475,000.

A more hands-on approach is necessary, but the good news is Nirenberg has shown that in recent months. In Walsh, he selected a city manager who has broad community support. He has committed to finding a way with the county on the justice center, and the city has made overtures to the community about the Hays Street Bridge. Nirenberg deserves more time to navigate these complicated issues.

Because of his deep understanding of city government and policy, his vision to address some of the most glaring challenges facing this fast-growing community, his steady hand during challenging times and his thoughtful leadership, we recommend Ron Nirenberg for another term as mayor. He has promised voters a city they deserve, and in turn, he deserves more time to deliver on this promise.