S.A. Dist. 4 Candidate Rey Saldana
OCCUPATION: City Councilman for District 4
EDUCATION: South San High School, BA Stanford, MA Stanford
FAMILY: Father, mother, 1 sister, 3 brothers, all living right here in District 4!
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COUNCIL? I'm running for re-election to City Council to continue the work I began two years ago: helping to make District 4 a great place to live, work, and raise a family. When I met with residents during my first campaign, they mentioned common themes - stray animals, graffiti, problems with roads, and sidewalks. During these past two years, I have worked with my staff to address these problems, organizing spay and neuter events to mitigate the stray animal problem, organizing cleanups and working with property owners to reduce graffiti, and helping to make sure that District 4 gets its fair share of funds to roads and sidewalks. If re-elected, I would continue to address these problems and others; I would continue investing to make Pearsall Park a great attraction and I would work to bring a health clinic into District 4.
HAVE YOU RUN FOR CITY COUNCIL BEFORE? Yes, I ran and won in 2011.
WHAT PREVIOUS LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE? My professional career has included leading students in a course that I teach on Education at both Trinity University and Palo Alto College. I also sit on many boards in the city, which include: Police and Fire Health Care Fund, San Antonio Education Partnership and the city's Educational Excellence Committee.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH IF ELECTED TO THE CITY COUNCIL? I hope to see the completion of investment in Pearsall Park, turning what was once a landfill into a safe attraction for all of District 4 and the city. I also hope to work with federal officials to obtain funds to bring a health clinic into District 4. During the next two years, I would want to work to attract more businesses to San Antonio and especially attract more businesses to Port San Antonio, which is an invaluable cluster of high technology, job-generating businesses.
WHAT ARE THE MOST DIFFICULT CHALLENGES FACING THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO? The City is growing rapidly and over the next decade we expect much of that growth to take place in District 4. A big challenge for the City is to ensure this growth is manageable and does not place undue strains on the City's ability to provide police, fire protection, water, and sewarage services.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES FACING ECONOMIC GROWTH IN SAN ANTONIO? The biggest obstacle to economic growth is perhaps the lack of sufficient education and technical skill in the labor force. In the past, businesses have considered locating in San Antonio, but some have declined because of the insufficient education level of the work force. The City needs to do more to ensure that its workforce is sufficiently prepared. This ranges from quickly implementing the Pre-K 4 S.A. program, to attracting charter schools to provide more education options, and encouraging businesses to provide outreach and technical training classes at local colleges.
WHAT CAN THE CITY COUNCIL DO TO HELP SPUR ECONOMIC GROWTH? The City Council can simplify the process of obtaining the licenses and permits to start a small business. Additionally, the City needs to work proactively with Port San Antonio to develop a plan to deal with outdated equipment and free up space for new businesses. Over the long term, the City could make it easier for Charter Schools to located inside and provide increased educational opportunities for students.
ARE THERE ANY DECISIONS THE CURRENT CITY COUNCIL HAS MADE THAT YOU STRONGLY DISAGREE WITH? PLEASE LIMIT ANSWERS TO 3 ITEMS. No, as a sitting councilperson, I am well aware of the level of analysis and debate that goes into each decision we make on council. As such, I am comfortable saying that I do not regret and votes made while on council. I believe that taking a long-term view of our city's future, we are making strategic investments in the best interest of our residents and ability to provide future services.
WHAT ITEMS/PROGRAMS WOULD YOU CUT FROM THE CURRENT CITY BUDGET? Over the last several years, our city has reduced the size of its operations and personnel without sacrificing service to our residents. I believe we are running a lean operational city, and I believe it is misguided to give specific examples that would ultimately reduce our operations without sacrificing efficiencies or necessary investments in the community. For example, one might argue that we should reduce hours at our local libraries to save money on employees and operations, but I would argue that this takes away an important convenience for our residents who use out libraries at all hours of the day before or after school or work. We need to be smart about budget decisions, and keep our residents best interest in mind.
DID YOU VOTE IN FAVOR OF OR AGAINST THE NEW PRE-K 4 S.A. PROGRAM? WHY? I voted in favor of it. Studies show that starting children in school younger can have educational benefits that last for several years. I believe that as part of ensuring we have a talented workforce in San Antonio, we must be sure to encourage education and curiosity among young children.
WHAT MORE SHOULD THE CITY DO TO LOWER GANG ACTIVITY AND CRIME IN SAN ANTONIO? The City Council could provide funding to increase police patrol throughout the city, particularly in areas afflicted with higher than average criminal activity; but residents must play a part too. As part of the "broken window" theory, we must encourage residents to call in when they see properties that are not compliant with city codes; criminal activity often arises in neighborhoods that are rundown or blighted, because perpetrators may believe police officers will not patrol the area. By actively enforcing city codes, the police can reduce the impression that any area of the city is open for criminal activity.
ARE THERE ANY MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE CITY UNDERTAKE? I believe that our city's next economic boom will happen at Port San Antonio, formerly Kelly Air force Base, but we need to make strategic investment in helping them care for aging infrastructure. Such investments will allow the Port to better market their space and attract thousands of jobs to the city of San Antonio.