Sitting shoulder to shoulder behind a table on the downtown campus of UTSA, the four men vying to be the next Bexar County judge worked to distance themselves from each other in front of a room packed with voters.
Driving to the forefront of the forum was VIA’s hotly debated modern streetcar plan.
“A streetcar can haul four times more people than you can haul in a bus," said current county Judge Nelson Wolff, who supports the project.
While much attention has been paid to the contention between Wolff and current County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, the money fueling the streetcar plan had Wolff and his republican challenger, Carlton Soules, swapping the most barbs.
“Make it clear, the county has no investment in this,” Wolff said of the streetcar plan.
“You’ve got $90 million in county money that was essentially washed to get it past voter opposition,” Soules countered. “It really is county money.”
“The numbers they’re throwing out on the other projects, they’re just wrong. They’re wrong,” Wolff said.
Meanwhile, Adkisson - who wants to see voters decide on the streetcar plan - said his priority, if elected county judge, would be on breaking the cycle of repeat offenders in the Bexar County Jail.
"Sixty to 80 percent of those who are there have been there not once, not twice, but five, 10, 15 times,” he said. “And when they get out they’re no better than when they went in. And they’re likely to go back.”
Republican candidate Gerard Ponce said he would use the county position to curb domestic violence, which he sees as Bexar County’s biggest challenge.
He admits he is the overall underdog but says his more than 40 years involved in the community and previous history as a county employee will help him in the race.
“I think this could be a good surprise for everybody,” Ponce said.
Early voting begins Tuesday, Feb. 18, and runs through the Feb. 28. Election Day for the March primary is March 4.
If you are casting a ballot by mail, the deadline to request a ballot is Friday. For a list of polling locations and sample ballots, click here. The general election is Nov. 4.