City Council District 10 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 10 Candidates

Emily Norwood, (none)

Did not respond.

Alexander Svehla, Educator

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Svehla: “In a Bexar Facts Poll, 68% of people polled said police officers that break the law should be held accountable. But, as it stands right now, San Antonio ranks last in police accountability measures in major cities in Texas, with 70% of SAPD officers being reinstated after firing. A study by Rice University found that oversight agencies that are meant to keep a watch on police conduct are barred from having access to data and important information about police activity. Even SAPD Chief McManus has admitted that the current rules are protecting bad officers.

This is why I support proposition B. This proposition will hold bad officers accountable, while benefiting those good officers who protect their citizenry and follow the law.”

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

Svehla: “‘Housing first’ strategies have proven to be successful in major cities such as Houston. Housing first calls for offering permanent housing while removing many barriers that are seen at homeless shelters. Once a person is brought into their housing, social workers and medical professionals can treat any other issues needed while the person starts to recover and get their lives back on track. So, while Haven for Hope has offered the community much needed assistance, a homeless shelter is only temporary and does not permanently alleviate homelessness.”

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?

Svehla: “I am the only candidate in my district pushing for major environmental change. The past 5 years San Antonio has seen an increase in waste use and a decrease in recycling. We first need to consider what type of laws can be passed to help curb the increase of pollution and litter in our city. Secondly, we need to consider how we can educate and work with our communities to prevent littering and reverse the trend of waste/recycling usage that we see now. Third, the city needs to partner and coordinate with businesses and nonprofits in the area to reduce waste and increase our educational platforming.

“In terms of infrastructure, our roads can always use improvement. With our city continuing to be one of the fastest growing cities in America we need to look toward the future and not just the present in improving our roads. For graffiti, the city has implemented the GAP (Graffiti Abatement Program) which assists the community with taking care of graffiti by providing free supplies. If someone needs to have their graffiti taken care of they can find resources at the website or call 311.”

Clayton Perry, Incumbent

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Perry: “I’m a staunch supporter of SAPD and believe that the majority of officers are good people who selflessly serve our community. There’s room for improvement in every organization and I support reforms to SAPD that are realized through open dialogue with all parties involved. One thing I will not compromise on however is accountability. We must hold bad actors accountable for the good of the community and the department. I’m against Proposition B because I am concerned about unintended consequences that may occur if the proposition is passed. Removing collective bargaining may create a void that could be filled with something less desirable. Additionally, Police Officers put their lives on the line every day that they put on their uniforms, and they deserve the right to have a say in their contract. I believe the collective bargaining process can work as long as all parties operate in good faith and I do not support the removal of this process through Proposition B.”

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

Perry: “In 2017, I set up the District 10 Homeless and Panhandling Task Force led by one of our leaders in District 10, Diana Kenny. The purpose of the Task Force was to meet with professionals and community members to determine the best steps for helping to reduce homelessness issues in District 10. Out of the Task Force came a recommendation for the City to hire a Clinical Social Worker to go into homeless camps and work to connect the homeless individuals to services and actually help walk them through the system. I pushed for the City to create that position in the annual budget and we hired our first district specific Clinical Social Worker for District 10 that following year. The City has now expanded that effort and has a similar position in every Council District. It will take more than hiring additional people or expending additional funds to make an impact on the homeless situation. Annually, we spend over $60M on homeless issues in our community and yet there are still challenges. We need to continue partnering with nonprofit organizations like SARAH and Haven for Hope and others to rely on their expertise and resources. Having the Clinical Social Worker position is also critical as is training our police officers on how to address homeless individuals and homeless encampments. When the group of experts collaborate, they are able to convince some of the people on the streets and in encampments to accept services and move to safer places.

“Reducing the number of people that experience homelessness is an equally important challenge, and one that will require all Councilmembers, the Mayor, City Staff and nonprofits to work on together. I have supported the creation of the Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP), and have supported adding additional federal funds to the EHAP throughout the pandemic. I believe the local government can serve as a partner to private housing developers, but that we need to be careful not to add costly requirements and red tape which will drive up the costs of construction and in turn make building affordable housing nearly impossible. I am not a proponent of the City government over-inserting itself in the process. The federal government provides funding for housing and has great programs that allow for developers to compete for tax credits to build affordable and workforce housing. The City’s Housing and Neighborhood Services Department has experts that help facilitate those federal programs. City Council should maintain an active role in reviewing the recommendations, but I do not agree with spending City funds on housing projects.

“Additionally, since the beginning of the pandemic, I have called for more resources for our small businesses. I am a proponent of safely re-opening our economy with a focus on keeping employees safe and commerce flowing. I have built a strong rapport with business and industry leaders and they know I will fight for them to receive more resources to help keep people employed during and post-COVID. As I have done over the last four years, I will continue to work within our annual budgets and federal grants to allocate funding towards bolstering our economy to get people back to work.”

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?

Perry: “I have had the honor of serving as the Councilmember for District 10 since 2017. I am seeking re-election because I believe strongly that experience matters and we still have work to accomplish at City Hall. Prior to being elected to City Council, I served 21 years in the US Air Force as a civil engineer performing and leading the same things that I’m currently doing on council. After my retirement from the Air Force, I worked an additional13 years in private industry, again doing many of same things I do daily on council. Throughout my whole career and especially on City Council, I have had a strong focus on customer service. I believe in our responsibilities to protect and uphold the City Charter, and I will continue focusing on the core services that we are required to provide to our neighbors. We answer the calls, emails and concerns of our neighbors. On Council, I have been a staunch advocate for our neighbors and have fought for property tax relief, including passing the first ever City Homestead Exemption. I have delivered on bringing improvements to our district’s infrastructure to the tune of over $64M since 2017, as well as on safety and security by spearheading the effort to fill the 300 vacancies at SAPD from 2017-2021. I have attended hundreds of neighborhood association meetings to learn about important issues in our community - and have taken action on all of the concerns brought to my attention. I have hosted monthly District 10 Community meetings, answered thousands of emails and phone calls and addressed the important issues brought forth by our neighbors. We are honored to serve the neighbors of District 10 and we take this responsibility seriously. We have built solid relationships with City Staff and work closely with them to identify and address issues in our community. When Re-elected, we will continue working with the City’s Code Compliance, Public Works, Graffiti Abatement, Solid Waste, and other departments on all of the quality of life issues that can keep our neighborhoods clean, healthy and safe.”

Ezra Johnson, Administrative Law Judge

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Johnson: “San Antonio is lucky to have a well-trained and professional police force that supports our community and does the sometimes dangerous work of keeping us safe. At the same time, justifiable concerns have been raised about certain limitations on the police chief’s authority to fire or discipline officers who fail to uphold the high standard of conduct we expect from them. San Antonio’s citizen oversight of the police department has been shown to be insufficient, and current disciplinary rules allow too many rogue officers to remain on the force. Reform is needed to maintain the stellar reputation of the vast majority of SAPD officers. No one has been able to explain to my satisfaction how ending collective bargaining for police officers will bring about the reforms we need. Instead, the city council must use its authority in the contract approval process to reject any contract that fails to include needed reforms. As the next city councilman for District 10, I pledge to vote “no” on any contract that does not include these reforms.”

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

Johnson: “A good start would be to encourage the residents of San Antonio to vote “yes” on Prop A. Prop A will expand the city’s ability to bond for affordable housing projects and help break the cycle of housing instability that results in periods of homelessness for residents who are overburdened by their housing costs and living paycheck-to-paycheck. I am also a strong advocate of a “housing-first” approach to reducing chronic homelessnes by providing transitional and permanent housing without preconditions. Shelters such as Haven for Hope provide for emergency needs, but they are clearly not a long-term solution to this issue. San Antonio implemented a housing-first approach to homeless veterans and this was largely successful. I would like to expand this program to cover everyone and provide comprehensive wraparound services to mitigate the underlying causes of chronic homelessness. This would include even more direct outreach to affected individuals and greater accessibility for programs and service providers.”

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?

Johnson: “Road maintenance, litter cleanup, and graffiti remediation are a function of the budgeting process, and there is only so much money to go around. We must make sure that these limited resources are used efficiently and cover as much territory as possible. As the past Vice Chair of the VIA Board of Trustees and the Chair of the VIA Audit Committee, I know how to stretch limited public tax dollars to efficiently cover the widest possible area. We must work to reduce the strains on our local road networks so that our maintenance dollars go further. We can do this incentivising the continuation of work-from-home programs and adding convenient alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles. I also believe that neighborhood associations and citizen patrol groups are our first line of defense against illegal dumping and graffitti. Those organizations are struggling in many places and need more support from the city. District 10 in particular needs more support for its neighborhoods. Increasing the number of SAFFE Officers assigned to our neighborhoods would also help.”

Gabrien Gregory, Army officer

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Gregory: “I support Proposition B. As an Army Reserve officer, I understand the responsibility and privilege that comes with being a uniformed officer and I support police officers. I do not support defunding the police, but accountability is not negotiable and the chief of police should have the authority to remove cops who do not uphold SAPD values. We have an opportunity to move toward a Meet and Confer system and bring a pay increase to our officers. Over 60% of District 10 neighbors support more accountability in the police, and I stand with my neighbors. If elected, I will also strongly advocate for an increase in mental health services for officers and firefighters who have seen so much, and try to bring a far northeast side public safety substation to the district.”

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

Gregory: “I will work to enact Housing First policies that aim to keep families in their homes long term and halt the increasing rate of homeless residents in District 10. We can provide permanent resources to homeless residents without wasting tax dollars on band-aid fixes every year. We should provide rent relief for residents facing eviction so they can pay the rent and landlords can pay the mortgage. 47% of renters are cost-burdened in District 10. A renters commission will address renter needs. Let’s expand the homestead exemption to take the increasing property tax burden off of homeowners. San Antonio is behind every other major Texas city in its homestead percentage. Lastly, my comprehensive plan for veterans and their families will ensure we never see another homeless military veteran in San Antonio.”

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?

Gregory: “I support a representative project process like the one used in District 9, which takes all remaining funds for the district to be used for streets, sidewalks, and parks. Residents should be able to submit potential projects and vote so we can identify which are most important to complete in order based on need - not deals with developers or friends. This is fair and welcomes more neighbors to the process. We also need to prioritize bike lanes for safer mobility. I will lead a monthly District 10 trash and graffiti cleanup in different parts of the district and bring on volunteers willing to help out. I will also work to bring a much needed renovation to the Lady Bird Johnson dog park.”

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 and resources.

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.