S.A. District 8 candidate Ron Nirenberg
OCCUPATION: Associate General Manager of Trinity University's KRTU-FM
EDUCATION: B.A. from Trinity University, M.A. from University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication
FAMILY: wife Erika Prosper and son Jonah
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COUNCIL? I want to serve my district and the city in a thoughtful, balanced way in order to serve the best interests of our community long term. Doing so will help us improve the quality of life for residents, bring good new jobs to San Antonio, fix our roads and infrastructure, and make public safety a priority.
HAVE YOU RUN FOR CITY COUNCIL BEFORE? No
WHAT PREVIOUS LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE? I am following a national career in public policy research and civic engagement, now as Associate General Manager of Trinity University's noncommercial KRTU-FM. I currently lead a public media operation that serves both a community-focused higher education mission and a burgeoning arts audience in South Texas, including a professional staff and team of over 70 students and community volunteers. I led a citywide, year-long collaboration of over 20 area nonprofits including the SACVB, Public Library Foundation, and KLRN-TV while also launching the station's first integrated marketing campaign.
Prior to joining KRTU, I worked for the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, developing and directing award-winning civic engagement programs in cities across the United States, including San Antonio. As a volunteer, I worked in communication research and television production for the Intercultural Development Research Association and the City of San Antonio. I am the founder and operator of Nirenberg Fitness Training, LLC and co-founder of ColectivaMente Consulting, LLC, a market research group. My service also includes several nonprofit boards and committees, including the Brackenridge Park Conservancy, the Northside Neighbors for Organized Development, and public affairs committees for the Greater S.A. and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce. I am the president of the Summerfield HOA and an alumnus f Leadership San Antonio.
WHAT ARE THE MOST DIFFICULT CHALLENGES FACING THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO? The things that make San Antonio a center for opportunity are also the things that will pose the greatest challenges to us in the coming years: booming population growth, affordable cost of living, an increasingly diversified economy, and an enviable natural environment. City leaders must work together to focus San Antonio's growth so that it serves the best interests of residents. The citizens of District 8 simply cannot afford any insider politics, and we must hold every public official accountable to improving the quality of life for each of us. District 8 population has grown 33 percent in the last decade, twice as fast as the city. We must address issues of water availability and quality, infrastructure, public safety and cost of living increases associated with that growth. Reaffirming our priorities to maintain infrastructure, protect neighborhoods and residents and maintain our affordable cost of living are key. We must invest strategically and efficiently to keep pace with growth and prepare for/manage continued growth.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES FACING ECONOMIC GROWTH IN SAN ANTONIO? As the recession eases, state, national, and international competition for new business and relocations will heighten and San Antonio will have a tougher time keeping current pace. For the city, this means striking a difficult balance between addressing basic services and trimming unnecessary costs and programs, but also making strategic investments to build San Antonio's economic engines for the future. For public officials, this means keeping private interests out of the equation and ensuring a business-friendly climate thrives for major employers and small businesses.
ARE THERE ANY DECISIONS THE CURRENT CITY COUNCIL HAS MADE THAT YOU STRONGLY DISAGREE WITH? PLEASE LIMIT ANSWERS TO 3 ITEMS. I believe the incentives package offered to Nexolon was excessive.
I believe the renaming of Durango Blvd. to Cesar Chavez was unnecessary.
I believe the current council has waited too long to establish a working task force to address the baseline assumptions of a new collective bargaining agreement with police and fire (current CBA expires Sept. 2014).
WHAT ITEMS/PROGRAMS WOULD YOU CUT FROM THE CURRENT CITY BUDGET? I will continue going line-by-line through the city budget to question programs that are inefficient, ineffective, or unnecessary. I would work to cut any program that does not meet a demonstrated need or that does not meet expectations. In addition, I will work to make sure economic incentive packages are fair to taxpayers, transparent, and judicious. Imbalanced incentives should not become giveaways for those more interested in cost savings than corporate citizenship. Every citizen, including new ones, should be expected to pay their fair share.
DID YOU VOTE IN FAVOR OF OR AGAINST THE NEW PRE-K 4 S.A. PROGRAM? WHY? I voted for it. After looking at the Pre-K studies and talking with many people – neighbors, civic leaders, business leaders, and educators - around the city before I cast my vote, the reason why they (and I) supported it is because, as a city, we have identified our greatest need to be building a competitive, educated workforce to retain and grow jobs in San Antonio.
WHAT MORE SHOULD THE CITY DO TO LOWER GANG ACTIVITY AND CRIME IN SAN ANTONIO? Emergency services are the single largest investment of our tax dollars, but we simply do not have enough police on the streets for a city of over 1.3 million people. We need to leverage our high-performing areas and cut-off criminal behavior at its source, using zero tolerance policies as a guide. I support increased deployment of gang units to stay ahead of an increasing threat from gang activity and recruitment. This will also include a zero tolerance policy for anyone involved in violent gang recruitment in a public school. After leveraging neighborhood first response by supporting the SAFFE program, we must work to increase the number of police on our streets, to make the job safer for the officers and to allow our departments to do more proactive policing. This will also be a key to getting a handle on rising property crime in our neighborhoods.
ARE THERE ANY MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE CITY UNDERTAKE? We need to work harder to ease traffic congestion by better coordinating roadway projects with county, state and federal officials. Doing so will require major road infrastructure improvements. I am in favor of adding of high occupancy lanes and new transit centers to support the growth of VIA services while minimizing impact to existing vehicular traffic. We should establish a citizen's task force to study current and potential bus routes for VIA and VIA Primo services to ensure efficiency and transit time are first priorities.