New Bexar commissioner makes history

Tommy Calvert keeps campaign promise, visits with constituents in high crime areas day after election

SAN ANTONIO – Tommy Calvert made history Tuesday night by becoming the first African American to be elected to a county commissioner seat in Bexar County.

The newly elected Precinct 4 commissioner is also the youngest person to win a seat on the commissioner's court.

Calvert didn't waste time celebrating his big win. He was out in the rain meeting his constituents Wednesday.

While most candidates block walk to gather support before an election, Calvert said it was just as important to go back to those same communities after the election to see what's on the people's minds.

"What I pledged to do as commissioner was, the day after I was elected, was go back into areas hardest hit by crime and try to understand what's the root cause of it," Calvert said. "I truly believe the people are the boss and there's a lot of work to be done. I want to begin to get a head start on it because from the day I'm sworn in Jan. 1, we need to begin to hit the ground running at the county level to deploy resources to people."

Much like the rain, Calvert and his "rapid response team" flooded the Camelot II neighborhood, a community plagued by crime, drugs and trash.

By understanding the problems, Calvert hopes to be better equipped to find solutions that will work.

"We definitely need to put the law enforcement boots on the ground, that's going to happen, I'm going to make sure that happens, but we got to get to those root causes of crime and try to prevent some of it before it starts," Calvert said. "That's the first step. If neighborhoods aren't safe then you won't have investment and if you don't have folks with disposable income, with good-paying jobs, then you won't bring and attract the restaurants and retail shops that my community has said they want me to go out and get."

While Camelot has a bad reputation for crime, Calvert said just a few miles up the road is the economic generator and high-tech job creator Rackspace.  He wants to work with Rackspace to see if he can find some jobs for residents in these high-crime areas by providing them some training.

"We've got to see if maybe we can get people trained in those good-paying jobs in the information and technology sector so they don't have to turn to a life of crime. That would be the dream," Calvert said.

Residents, like James Slaughter, were surprised to see Calvert at their door a day after the election.  He said most candidates breeze through once before an election and then aren't heard from again until the next election.

"I'm impressed," Slaughter said. "The people who served before him, you never saw them out here. If this is the way he's going to be, it's a good thing."

Community leader Victor Berrera was equally impressed with Calvert.

"Very proud, ever since I met him I thought he had a good vision," Berrera said. "He looks like he's making history and he's doing the right thing by trying to help this neighborhood."

Calvert said if there's one thing he's learned from watching his predecessor, former Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, it's to be accessible.

"When you are accessible to your constituency they keep you honest," Calvert said. "They keep your head from blowing up, they keep you connected to what's going on and they make you a better representative and a better leader."

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