AGE: 64 years
OCCUPATION: I retired as CEO of AVANCE, Inc., after a very gratifying and rewarding 32 year career of helping children, families and communities in the high-risk communities. I do some consulting, am an inspirational speaker, and am an author of a book entitled Raising Nuestros Ninos: Bringing Up Latino Children in a Bicultural World.
HAVE YOU RUN FOR CITY COUNCIL BEFORE? Yes, I ran for City Council, District 7 in 2011 and did not get into the run-off by 26 votes. This election will make people understand the importance of their vote and how every vote matters.
WHAT PREVIOUS LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE? As an elementary school teacher of first grade children, I saw the root cause of the education problem children were facing and left teaching to become the President and CEO of AVANCE-San Antonio, Inc., with a $100,000 grant from the Zale Foundation. Under my leadership, AVANCE grew to become a successful nationally recognized $36 million organization in San Antonio, throughout Texas and into California.
Nationally and Internationally:
*By Presidential Appointment, I served on the President's Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans for six years.
*Served on the Christian Children's Fund International Board
Served on numerous philanthropic and civic organizations and national delegations to Israel, France, Chili on issues related to children, families and women.
Served on the SAMSA board dealing with mental health and social services
Served on the National Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Board to address the high pregnancy rate among Latina adolescents.
Served on numerous philanthropic and government task forces and was asked to present congressional testimony on issues related to children, families and communities.
I continue to be asked to speak and serve as a consultant on issues related to children, families and communities throughout the country.
Served as Chair of the Head Start Texas Coordinating Board
Served on Ann Richard's Early Childhood Transition Board
Active on my local neighborhood association (Donaldson Terrace Neighborhood Association)
Served as Chairperson, Family Task Force for Target 90 and attended all SA 2020 meetings.
My leadership experience has been recognized:
Received the NHLI (National Hispanic Leadership) National Mujer Award in Ethical Leadership
Was inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame and San Antonio Hall of Fame
Received the Hispanic Heritage Award in Education at the Kennedy Center
Recognized at one of 100 Most Influential Hispanics in Hispanic Magazine four times.
25 Influential Working Mothersw in Working Mother's Magazine.
Featured in Parade Magazine; received the Social Action Award by Parent's Magazine and included in Notable Hispanic American Women.
Received the National Attitude Award from Life Time Television for changing attitudes toward supporting families
Received the Distinguished Service to Education Award from the National Assoicaition of School Principals,
Received the Temple award for Creative Altruism by Noetic Sciences
Featured in an international documentary called “The Creative Spirti at Work”
Dr. Rodriguez's papers are included at the Eugene Barker Center on Texas History at UT of Austin, where she received her Doctorate Degree.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH IF ELECTED TO THE CITY COUNCIL? I want to listen to the concerns, frustrations, and issues of the resident of District 7, and together with the resident and many stakeholders, make District 7 a vibrant place in which to live, work and play. I want to create communities that are safe, and rich of culture and vitality; that have adequate housing, parks or green spaces, gardens, sidewalks, curbs, bicycle and exercise paths, and community centers where diverse people can come together, as neighbors to meet one another, to learn and to get the services they need. I want to continue to help people further their education, reduce crime, create jobs and bring about community revitalization and development. I have experience as the Vice Chair of the San Antonio Development Agency as well as the renovation of the $5 million restoration of the historic Heimann Building that became the catalyst for economic development in that area. Lastly, I want to be very involved in ethics reform in City Government. For too long there has been a laissez-faire attitude related to contracts. I would like to pursue the development of ethical regulations related to politics that would bring about fair and just elections. We need a government that puts people first and that is open, inclusive, transparent and accountable.
WHAT ARE THE MOST DIFFICULT CHALLENGES FACING THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO? One of the most difficult challenges facing the city of San Antonio is a developing and implementing a sound, fair and effective ethics system. If we are to regain the trust in government, there must be openness, fairness, transparency. We need regulations that will not give one person an advantage over others, or use taxpayer’s dollars or one’s position to further one’s self interest or special interest. The interest of the people needs to be at the forefront of every decision that is made. I would like to pursue ethical reform in politics.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES FACING ECONOMIC GROWTH IN SAN ANTONIO? I believe that economic development should be planned, fair and balanced to all segments of the city. I look at economic development from the point of view of the children, family and quality of life in our communities. It should go hand in hand with ensuring that our children are educated to bring about a strong labor force. It should include fair livable wages with benefits, water resources, sustainable energy resources, a good public transportation system. Communities need to have basic infrastructures such as curbs, sidewalks, and a good drainage system. We cannot continue to have urban sprawl to the north while some communities are neglected in the inner city. We should not grow if we cannot offer adequate services of police, fire, and health services or affect those from existing communties. Crime and lack of safety adversely impacts economic development, so some investment needs to be made in preventive social services for youth. Another obstacle facing economic development should be to protect the health and wellbeing of the people and our quality of our water through zoning laws. How we choose to invest our limited tax dollars affects children, families and the quality of life of our communities.
WHAT CAN THE CITY COUNCIL DO TO HELP SPUR ECONOMIC GROWTH? The city can spur economic growth by investing in people, education, sustainable energy resources, a good water supply and a seamless public transportation system. It can form public/private partnerships by offering tax credits and abatements with responsibilities and assurances. The City Council could promote our city and encourage businesses to invest in our city. It could offer support and assist small businesses. As former Vice Chair of the San Antonio Economic Development Board, I am aware of what is needed to spur economic development and will use my experience and knowledge to promote jobs in District 7.
ARE THERE ANY DECISIONS THE CURRENT CITY COUNCIL HAS MADE THAT YOU STRONGLY DISAGREE WITH? PLEASE LIMIT ANSWERS TO 3 ITEMS. I feel that the street car project should have gone to the voters to decide. There definitely needs to be more dialogue and debate at city hall as to how we use our limited resources.
Decisions related to use of public land like Hemisfair Park Project, Majestic Theatre, and the Hays Street Bridge needs to have more transparency and accountability. Is it wise to give public lands to boards that are not elected or accountable?
In District 7, I strongly disagree with how the incumbent brought Wal-Mart into the community. There was no transparency and not enough input from the community.
WHAT ITEMS/PROGRAMS WOULD YOU CUT FROM THE CURRENT CITY BUDGET? I would cut the street car project and sent it to the people for a vote. I also recommend that nothing be decided without it being adequately reviewed and discussed, such as the Nexalon project. Before the city negotiates any arrangement on property or abatement, the most recent financial statement should have been addressed.
DID YOU VOTE IN FAVOR OF OR AGAINST THE NEW PRE-K 4 S.A. PROGRAM? WHY? I voted for the PreK4SA Program because I understand the importance of the early years of life in establishing the foundation for learning and in the development of values, self esteem, a sense of worth, belonging and success in school and life. Half of what a child learns from birth to 18 is learned by the age of 4. I have my doctorate degree in early childhood education and managed a nationally recognized early childhood education and parenting program for 32 years. I will use my knowledge and experience to ensure that the PreK4SA program is implemented well and evaluated effectively.
WHAT MORE SHOULD THE CITY DO TO LOWER GANG ACTIVITY AND CRIME IN SAN ANTONIO? Our youth are in gangs to fill a need to belong, to fee valued and to have a sense of worth. I believe in preventing the problem b starting early in life and providing the children these needs throught the family and community. Parenting education and family support are critical as are afterschool, mentoring, tutoring, recreational programs. The earlier the intervention, the better.
ARE THERE ANY MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE CITY UNDERTAKE? Proper infrastructure equates to quality of life and safety. For too long, San Antonio grew to the North, while ignoring the inner city. Many streets were not adequately maintained. Aged infrastructure have caused many pipes to break and seep precious water. Many of the communities in District 7 do not have basic curbs and sidewalks. There have been several tragedies in District 7 because there are not sufficient street signs, street bumps and crosswalks. District 7 has many senior citizen apartments in place without adequate crosswalks or proper regulations to protect them. Our transportation system hs to include sidewalks and proper lighting in the community to get to and from bus stops. We need to continue to address the drainage problems in District 7 that killed a child and that are destroying people’s foundations and homes.