S.A. District 3 candidate Gabriel Q. Velasquez
OCCUPATION: Urban Design Professional
EDUCATION: Harlandale Graduate of 1983; UTSA - Bachelor of Science in Architecture 2001
FAMILY: Married to Jennifer Comi (Velasquez)
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COUNCIL? My strong personal history of service to the community spans decades. My involvement has grown and my leadership capability has matured. Attending Harlandale ISD and earning an Architecture Degree from UTSA, I also trained in community capacity-building with the Annie E. Casey Foundation nationally and in stressed communities locally. District 3 needs a leader with experience leading from a broad perspective. I wish to offer my broad perspective to District 3.
HAVE YOU RUN FOR CITY COUNCIL BEFORE? No
WHAT PREVIOUS LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE? President of Project Learn to Read (Adult Literacy), Founding Co-Chair San Antonio Dia de Los Ninos (National Latino Children's Agenda), Vice President of Avenida Guadalupe Association, City of San Antonio Cultural Arts Board, City of San Antonio Higher Education Authority, Founding Committee and Spokesperson for the Inaugural Luminaria SA, Vice President of the Cesar Chavez Legacy and Educational Fund, Facilitation for numerous City of San Antonio Master Plans, Committee Member of the San Antonio River Authority River and Creeks Restoration Oversight Committee, Jazz Program Director for KYSM 90.1 Jazz Programming, Project Manager for numerous architectural undertakings, Technical Assistance Team Member for the Annie E. Casey Foundation Neighborhood Transformations initiative "Making Connections San Antonio", Master Plan Developer for the Mexican American Unity Council, Director of the Inner City Advocates, Revitalization Coordinator for the NCRP - Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization Project of the City of San Antonio, Founder and Chairman of Una Noche de La Gloria - Contemporary Art in the Cultural Zone.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH IF ELECTED TO THE CITY COUNCIL? My main objective is a "Fresh Start" master planning initiative to develop a comprehensive and consistent vision and model for public investment in the Southside.
WHAT ARE THE MOST DIFFICULT CHALLENGES FACING THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO? Wasteful spending and constituent non-involvement in the process. Our main problem is a lack of leadership considering that leadership is defined by a record of having followers: with regard to voter statistics, fewer than one in ten constituents is following. We need to tighten up on issues that encourage apathy - for instance ethics problems. We can build participation if we use our monetary resources to invest in the redevelopment of our inner city communities.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES FACING ECONOMIC GROWTH IN SAN ANTONIO? Urban sprawl and unbalanced growth. Government does not lead corporate investment but it can create environments better suited to economic risk. Our job can be to target areas for development by re-incentivizing existing challenged areas; by rethinking depressed areas the result of bad planning and municipal neglect and understanding that core growth is only a component of balanced growth.
WHAT CAN THE CITY COUNCIL DO TO HELP SPUR ECONOMIC GROWTH? Please refer to the previous two questions.
ARE THERE ANY DECISIONS THE CURRENT CITY COUNCIL HAS MADE THAT YOU STRONGLY DISAGREE WITH? PLEASE LIMIT ANSWERS TO 3 ITEMS.
1: Selection of Nexelon America over Texas-based partnership options with better financial scores.
2: 8.4% SAWS rate hike at one time without requiring a savings plan from SAWS.
3: Ethics model regarding the Convention Center contract scandal.
WHAT ITEMS/PROGRAMS WOULD YOU CUT FROM THE CURRENT CITY BUDGET? I do not go in with a cuts agenda but with reallocations in mind. I believe current available funding needs to reach tax payer-quality of life investments. District 3 needs stronger investment in the arts and creative capital investments.
DID YOU VOTE IN FAVOR OF OR AGAINST THE NEW PRE-K 4 S.A. PROGRAM? WHY? Against. Regardless, I intend to be vested in the success of the program as per the voter/constituent decision. I do not feel that duplication of services in a good strategy. COSA can assist our ISD's by investing through block grants directed at existing Pre-K investments. I do believe levying sales tax for Pre-K SA to be a regressive sales tax strategy where the larger impact will be felt by the poor.
WHAT MORE SHOULD THE CITY DO TO LOWER GANG ACTIVITY AND CRIME IN SAN ANTONIO? We need to reinvest in older strategies such as - Youth to Work projects, large scale recreations, and professional to teen peer pairing. Regarding lowering crime in San Antonio we need to focus on economic activity in our inner city core for existing San Antonians struggling in the aspect of the local economy that is most challenged.
ARE THERE ANY MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE CITY UNDERTAKE? Southcross at IH35 intersection redevelopment (Highway and Road), WW White at Military junction, Goliad Road complete development at Brooks City, redevelopment of Military Drive - 281 to 35, further de-concentration of Public Housing throughout, re-planning of the Pecan Valley area, 6 Mile Creek at Formosa Junction Beautification.