LEADING S.A: District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez on topics from domestic violence to development, preserving natural resources

SAN ANTONIO – The Alamo City is growing -- more businesses, more people, and it’s expanding, especially on the Northwest side.

In this week’s Leading SA we hear from councilman Manny Pelaez of District 8, and we talk about his priorities going forward ranging from domestic violence to preparing San Antonio for the future.

“Well, in 2019, we had more than 30 women killed by a member of their household. That’s unacceptable. You know, in 2019, that should not be happening. I predict in 2020, it’s going to be just as bad if we do nothing. And we’ve been doing close to nothing,” Councilman Pelaez said.

Domestic violence is a problem here in San Antonio and now there is a commission dedicated exclusively to preventing it and combating it. That commission includes judges, churches, schools, and law enforcement.

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“We saw an increase this year in our last budget of about a million dollars towards the domestic violence program,” Councilman Pelaez said.

Another tough issue Councilman Pelaez wants to focus on is gun violence. He started addressing the problem head-on with town hall meetings.

“And so Sheriff Salazar, myself and Councilman Sullivan, we’re going to be giving away hundreds of gun locks to anyone in San Antonio that wants to make their home a little safer,” Councilman Pelaez said.

Within his district, infrastructure is a problem he sees and hears about consistently.

“It’s the one thing that we keep hearing loud and clear from all constituents is that they’re frustrated at seeing sidewalks that are partially built,” Councilman Pelaez said.

Transit can be a dilemma city-wide, but Pelaez said an easy alternative to driving is walking or biking to work if someone can do so. But said it’s only a good option if there are adequate sidewalks and bike lanes.

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"There are about 5,000 miles of sidewalks networked in the entire city, and about 1,800 miles of sidewalk network that is called ‘gap,’ which is that those pieces of sidewalk that don’t exist. And well, that’s the equivalent of driving from here to New York,” Councilman Pelaez said.

San Antonio continues to grow and so does the population of the Northwest side, so Palaez is concerned with how to add businesses and grow the economy while preserving our natural resources.

“I’ve said ‘No,’ if I see that what they’re doing is stripping trees and really making it less likely that we keep our air clean up there and that we protect the natural qualities and the beauty of the North Side,” Councilman Pelaez said.

The Rim and La Cantera are popular destinations in District 8, and if you’ve been apartment shopping near there you know the starting market rate isn’t exactly cheap.

“Now, my office and I are being very intentional about making sure that the projects that are being put together have affordability in mind when they look at there,” Councilman Pelaez said.

And you can’t forget about UTSA. The university has a goal to expand to over 45,000 students by 2028, and now the city council is focusing on how to keep those graduates in the Alamo City.

“We’re hearing from companies like USAA and Ernst and Young and Toyota that they’re looking to UTSA to pump out the best of the best so that this workforce can be ready to take on this new economy that San Antonio has in store for them,” Councilman Pelaez said.

2020 has just begun but there are big goals in mind especially when it comes to transportation.

“I think you’re going to see 2020 going forward as the decade of innovation when it comes to infrastructure and smart city, artificial intelligence, machine learning, traffic management, all these are things that are going to be a part of the new San Antonio. It’s inevitable,” Councilman Pelaez said.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.