City Council District 1 candidates answer your questions ahead of San Antonio’s May 1 election

We took your questions to the candidates for answers, here are their responses

Editor’s note: Find answers for all districts and the mayoral race here. Find news, resources and results from the election on our Vote 2021 page.

Saturday, May 1, 2021, is the municipal election in San Antonio. On the ballot, a rematch for mayor and nearly 80 candidates competing in 10 city council races, along with a proposition aimed at repealing the police department’s collective bargaining rights and a charter change for city bond projects.

We wanted to be sure you had a chance to ask your most important questions to the candidates before making your decision in the election — early voting begins April 17.

We received more than 400 questions from KSAT viewers and readers for the candidates.

We chose three of the most commonly asked questions, sent to each candidate and asked them to respond by April 12.

  1. Are you for or against Prop B and why?
  2. What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?
  3. What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Below are the unedited responses we received from the candidates who responded to our questions. The candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot.

San Antonio City Council District 1 Candidates

Mario Bravo, Project Manager

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Bravo: “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community – safe for your kids to walk to school, safe to walk in your neighborhood and parks after dark, and safe in your home. I will support our community’s vision for a holistic approach to safety and crime reduction - an approach that includes not just handcuffs and jail cells, but also investing in crime prevention and implementing community-led restorative justice programs.

“My priority will be to reward model police officers while holding bad actors accountable. Prop B is just one of many methods being proposed to ensure that we can hold our police officers to the highest standards. The outcome of Prop B will be determined before I take office, and I will respect the will of the voters on that proposition. No matter the outcome, I am committed to holding our police officers to the highest standards in the country.

“Our existing police contract expires this year. That contract includes items that make it difficult for our city to fire bad officers. Below are three items in our current contract that I will not support in a new contract:

  1. Writing police disciplinary records in “disappearing ink” which can no longer be used in disciplinary hearings two years after infractions occur
  2. An arbitrary 180 day statute of limitations for processing violations
  3. Allowing accused officers 48 hours to review evidence used against them before they can be questioned by investigators

“It’s challenging to determine where our current District 1 councilman stands on police reform. Councilman Roberto Treviño voted for the existing police contract but now says that, given another opportunity, he would vote against it. He says ‘defund the police’ but voted to increase their funding.”

What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Bravo: “We need to change course in how we address homelessness. While we should retain a compassionate approach, our recent patchwork of projects has proven to be ineffective. The data shows that the number of people in San Antonio experiencing homelessness has gone up over the four terms that Roberto Treviño has served in office. It’s surprising that he is asking for a 5th chance to get it right.

“Homelessness is a citywide issue, and our city has many organizations and experienced professionals who work to reduce homelessness in various ways. We need to do a better job of supporting our professionals who work in mental health, drug addiction, shelters, etc. With better communication and coordination, we can find gaps in services, learn where we are duplicating efforts, and explore how the city can best leverage resources to effectively support these professionals so that we can address this challenge more effectively citywide.

“That will require me to sit at the table with the other council members and work collaboratively to reach consensus, rather than stand outside of City Hall and throw rocks at our city leadership as our current councilman has done. It will also require listening to District 1 neighborhoods and taking their concerns into consideration on how we address homelessness as a community.”

What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Bravo: “We need to get City Hall’s spending priorities straight. I will focus on investing your tax dollars in ways that improve your quality of life at the neighborhood level.

“City Council is currently spending over $40 million remodeling their own council offices but only $6 million to build and repair sidewalks for our entire city of 1.5 million people. At the rate we are going, some of our citizens who have paid property taxes their entire lives will not live long enough to know what it is like to have a sidewalk on their street to walk on. When asked about his support for spending this outrageous amount of your tax dollars on remodeling city council offices, Councilman Treviño said that he had an office window that leaked when it rained.

“This is a clear mismanagement of your tax dollars. I will invest your tax dollars in ways that reflect your priorities, including fixing roads, and programs to reduce litter and prevent and eradicate graffiti.”

Roberto C. Trevino, Incumbent, architect

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Trevino: “I am for Proposition B. The ten items that Fix SAPD has brought to the table are relevant requests for our police union contract. Human rights and accountability should be non-negotiable. San Antonio has the worst rate of rehiring fired officers in the country. (The Washington Post) We must do what we can to ensure nobody is allowed to live above the law. Our police have a difficult job, and Proposition B in no way impacts their pay or benefits. Every other major city in Texas has equal or better pay without Chapter 174 that Proposition B seeks to repeal. The proposition was brought forth by petitions signed by community members, and I believe the voters should have a say in the future of our police union contract.”

What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Trevino: “We have a broken system of support for individuals experiencing homelessness. I successfully requested City-wide outreach teams in this year’s budget. It is the first step in relying on experts to help us solve the problem long-term. Many barriers limit our ability to help these individuals. They are experiencing issues such as trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Yet, San Antonio currently only has 28 detox beds available for all of our residents. Not being able to access detox services means individuals can’t benefit from Haven For Hope and other organizations meant to help. We must instate a housing-first policy that allows us to meet people facing homelessness where they are. Otherwise, we are simply displacing them through abatement and arrests that do nothing to solve the core problem. This places an undue burden on our neighborhoods. We believe in a clean environment across our city. Working with solid waste management, we have developed a strategy for clean neighborhoods and trash pickup/prevention. Our outreach teams will connect people to services available and impact the safety and stability of our community.”

What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping), and graffiti?

Trevino: “San Antonio is one of the most vibrant cultural destinations in the world. Residents value and treasure the beauty of our city. There is more we can do to limit damaging behavior - such as littering and graffiti. First, we can increase bulk item pickups throughout the city to help curb dumping. I firmly believe if residents are given more options for legally dumping items, they will make the right decision. Second, we must invest more into the arts. When COVID-19 hit San Antonio, arts funding was the first to be cut. If we do not promote creative outlets for our residents, graffiti and other illegal activity will permeate. Just like nature, art will always find a way to overcome barriers. Therefore, we must make room for art, treasure it, and promote it within our youth.”

Cyndi Dominguez, Financial Professional

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Dominguez: “Yes i am against prop B. I support the police department in their right to collective bargaining.”

What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio

Dominguez: “Even though I am not currently a councilwoman I work alongside several community programs that have been fined for helping the homeless and issued cease and desist letters to stop assisting the homeless. My plans are continuously to identify the status of the homeless in regards to health, mental health and/or drug use then direct them to the appropriate location for the type of assistance that is needed. Every homeless person has a different situation going on. It is not just a blanket issue that can end all homelessness. The ultimate goal is to ensure the safety and sanitation of the neighborhoods and citizens.

What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Dominguez: “In order to clean up our city we as council should set an example and assist in city wide clean up days, encourage civic engagement and encourage engagement from youth to take pride in and clean up our city. Education is also key, if we teach our community about less waste, recycling, upcycling, identify eyesores and renovate or remove them.

“When it comes to graffiti we can use landscaping against buildings, more lighting, cameras, glossy paint to wash off the surface, offer art classes and communication classes for teens, and put up prearranged murals.”

Lauro A. Bustamante, Attorney

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Bustamante: “For, police should accountable for crimes, abuse, civil and human rights violations.”

What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Bustamante: “Contract with vacate hotels, motels, apartments, homes to provide shelter and work with churches to provide food and clothes, the provide health and training for jobs.”

What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Bustamante: “Work with President Biden infrastructure plans for our roads, provide incentive to homeowners to clean up litter and graffiti, more trash pickup,”

Raymond Zavala, Retired

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Zavala: “I oppose Proposition “B”. I oppose it, because, it will have an adverse effect on the morale, welfare, and safety of the first responders. There is evidence from other cities that have favored similar actions and it has resulted in detrimental effects on community.”

What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Zavala: “I plan to reduce the homeless situation by using the template that is in place for Rapid City, SD. Since I am fully retired and am able to travel, I took a fact finding trip to that homeless shelter and was astounded at how efficient and how resourceful it was run by an all volunteer staff. The entire community cooperated and donated the sheltered. My plan includes having the residents of the shelter per form 4 hours of community service throughout the city. There is a need to have the homeless be given their dignity and respect back to them. They just need the opportunity to contribute to the community. I have suggested this plan to the current and past councils, but no action has been taken.”

What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Zavala: “I’d ask for an ordinance that would require a person to be 21 years of age to purchase a can or cans of spray of paint. If and when a violator is apprehended the tagger would be required to perform community service removing graffiti and be mandated to attend art classes where their talent would be beneficial to the community.”

Matthew J. Gauna, Environmental Consultant

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Guana: “I support the proposition. There are false claims about this proposition, that it is “Defunding the police.” As much as I wish that were the case, this proposition is not defunding the police. It is simply tipping the balance of power back towards the citizens of San Antonio. Fired officers have enjoyed the great chance of winning their appeal so the passing of this proposition will be one step towards balancing power. If this passes our work will not be done. We must do more to curb the militarization of SAPD. We saw how they brazenly attacked protestors and press during the protests last May and June. Journalist Delaine Mathieu, a camera operator, and I were aggressively asked by riot gear clad officers to leave the intersection of N Alamo and E Travis St., even though we posed no threat. We see that no one is safe under this militarization, and only property is to be protected at all costs.”

What are your plans to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Antonio?

Guana: “Our priority will be “Housing 1st.” I believe a more compassionate way to approach this question is by examining what governmental policies have failed Americans and specifically, the citizens of San Antonio to have led them to become homeless, like the war on drugs, and rectify those policies. Our plan to house those afflicted by homelessness is multifaceted. Part one of our approach will be working with the federal government to purchase abandoned and deteriorating motels in the city, (Motel 6′s, In-town suites) and hotels to provide low-income housing and assisted housing. Secondly, I would like to see the expansion of our care for people with mental health issues, such as expanding the Mental Health Unit within SAPD, which will lower the risk of harm to officers, the public, and the individual. We should enhance services to assist individuals experiencing mental health challenges to improve their quality of life and reduce their involvement with the criminal justice system. Our state and federal government must do more to assist San Antonio and other cities facing these challenges. Third, we will amend the city charter to expand the city’s use of implementing rent control, making sure a greater number of new & existing units are reserved for low-income families, college students, and workers. Prioritizing keeping people in their homes, preventing them from becoming homeless.”

What is your plan to clean up and improve our city -- specifically when it comes to the condition of our roads, litter (dumping) and graffiti?

Guana: “Our plan is to proactively direct and manage city departments to repair our infrastructure in a timely and efficient manner. Currently, our District 1 streets and sidewalks receive little priority from COSA, despite being the oldest and of most historic value in the city. Our solution is to connect our downtown and surrounding areas by reestablishing a grid street system, decreasing vehicle traffic and confusion. Lighting our streets efficiently to increase driver visibility and pedestrian safety as well as lowering the harmful effects of light pollution. Citizens have told us repeatedly; new developments are given subsidies and new sidewalks while our lifelong residents and taxpayers in District 1 are paying higher taxes yet not receiving proper city services like providing safe sidewalks for our community. We will provide new sidewalks and grade A streets by directing city crews to areas in District 1 that are in the highest need. As citizens we observe that COSA does not hold cleaning litter and pollution in District 1 as a high priority. We will provide practical and low-cost solutions to preventing trash from reaching our waterways by installing bioswales at all areas where stormwater runs off into our creeks and streams. We will utilize neighborhood volunteers rather than city crews to fulfill our labor need, providing credit to students for community service and credits to homeowners for their assistance.”

Find out if you are a San Antonio resident and which city council and school district you are in here.

Important Election Dates

  • Monday, April 19, 2021: FIRST day of Early Voting.
  • Tuesday, April 27, 2021: LAST day of Early Voting.
  • Saturday, May 1, 2021: Election Day

Find more information about the election here and visit our elections page for the latest election-related stories.

Click on the races below to read more candidates’ answers to the reader questions:

About the Author:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.