City Council District 5 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

SAN ANTONIOEditor’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 5 Candidates

Anthony Gres, Business owner

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Gres: “I oppose proposition B. Contract negotiations for large cities are important because if police were to go on strike, then the threat of not having first responders is far too great for the cities. Now, I do believe that first responders and the city should take citizens into account and reach the best deal for both sides.”

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

Gres: “I plan to work with the department of human services and metro health to expand some of the COVID homelessness projects, including using hotel rooms to house people. I also plan on working with our state and federal delegation to secure funding. I plan on looking at what the county is doing for harm reduction services, and what the city can do to increase access to treatment, and other resources necessary for those that are currently houseless. Homelessness, at its core, is complex and needs to be treated as such.”

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?

Gres: “I plan on working with the public works department to get a clear understanding of where current and upcoming street projects are within our district and look at areas that need to be addressed. In terms of illegal dumping, I feel that we need to explore projects with the state and use technology as a way to catch those that illegally dump and associate a fine with it.”

Jason Mata, Nonprofit executive

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Mata: “I am against Prop B

“I agree that we need to improve on accountability issues however, I would like for the issues to be handled through possible changes to Policy and or Procedures.”

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

Mata: “I have addressed Homelessness issues in the past and feel that through Outreach and Services we can be successful. I do feel that a The “Housing First” approach may also be successful.

“For this reason, I support Prop A. The only concern that I have for Prop A is the possibility of Gentrification through imminent Domain and to address this concern, I would propose to assign a committee to oversee any public housing development to help assure that imminent Domain and or gentrification occurs on a limited to no basis.”

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?

Mata: “I also have vast experience in dealing with infrastructure and quality of life issues. In addition to a high crime and drug use problem, some areas of District 5 are plagued with man-made dumping sites. From what I understand the city has done away with No Dumping signs, which for the most part, were a deterrent for illegal dumping. I would bring these signs back along with Neighborhood Sweep initiatives, and other community-based initiatives.

“Part of my priority is to invest heavily in Youth Development Programs that will address Juvenile Delinquency through mentoring, sports, and recreational outlets.”

Ray Garza, Retired

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Garza: “I’m for Prop B- because we need transparency at the police department.

“I’m against Prop B because we will lose professionalism at the police department. Bottom line, whatever my constituents decide, I will represent them.”

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

Garza: “Get them situated in a Heaven for Hope II and retrain them to be able to rent mini-efficiency apartments.”

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?

Garza: “Train the homeless to clean litter and graffiti. Send work orders to the city for road, sidewalks and night light repairs.”

Irma G. Barron, Self-employed

No email listed on candidate application and did not respond to voicemail.

Teri Castillo, Substitute teacher

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Castillo: “I support Fix SAPD and their work to pass Prop B. The San Antonio Police Department contract affects all constituents in our city, and the voice of the people must be heard in that regard. When the police department identifies an officer who is unfit for the position, but then SAPOA forces the department to retain that officer, it is clearly not just the police department that is impacted by the decision. Constituents are also now subjected to an unfit and likely dangerous individual who has abrogated their duty to protect the community. This is why I believe it is important for our city government to explore alternative measures that provide accountability on officers that abuse their positions. The passage of Prop B would mark a necessary change for the better for the welfare of our citizens.”

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

Castillo: “There are many ways that we can fight to house residents of District 5. We need to protect renters through empowering tenant unions and prevent flurries of pandemic evictions through city resolution. We need to inaugurate community land trusts - a powerful legacy of Senator Bernie Sanders in Burlington, Vermont, the city with the most CLTs in the nation - in District 5, which will halt and possibly even reverse gentrification, one of the primary drivers towards the lack of affordable, accessible housing in our area. Indeed, my campaign is founded on the idea of housing-first policy - we should always move to house whenever possible, much as was done recently by Austin City Councilman Greg Casar when he refashioned an unused hotel for that express purpose. There are many tools at our disposal to aid the unhoused, and we need a councilwoman who will act boldly and comprehensively on this front.”

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?

Castillo: “Infrastructure is key to the safety and success of our community. Many District 5 roads are in a state of disrepair, and we must ensure bond funds are used to address the needs of our established communities.

“District 5 also has a litter problem. It is time for many of our unused public spaces, especially those with the most egregious litter, to be repurposed into green spaces and parks for the recreation of our residents. Respect for our neighborhoods is a District 5 value, and I will fight to make sure that plans and public money can give these values physical form for the enjoyment of our families and neighbors.”

David Yanez, Attorney

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Yanez: “I oppose Proposition B. I am from a union family and understand the importance of collective bargaining, but I do feel that once a police officer is terminated, after proper due process, they should not be rehired. I support a responsible police department that follows policy and procedure guidelines for the benefit of all of us.”

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

Yanez: “We need to work more closely with other nonprofits, community organizations and churches that have direct contact with the homeless and transient community daily, they know their neighborhoods very well and needs. Haven for Hope can assist and help share some resources, for example the Dress for Success clothing items to these groups, who can work independently and who know those in need and provide direct support. This problem is huge and to depend only on Haven for Hope is not the way. Perhaps have Haven for Hope help by coordinating progress with these new field contact organizations to contribute and feel included in the solution to serve the District and beyond. I also believe that we should have a new Haven for Hope facility set exclusively for woman and children, instead of housing everyone at the same complex. Let’s reduce the risk for the benefit of this group.”

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?

Yanez: “My plan is to create a small version of the successful Centro downtown program in District 5 but with a focus of providing clean and safe support along the business corridor. To create a new plan with the Westside Development Corporation, The Chamber of Commerce and Business Leaders who wish to support this plan for success. We can contact the neighbors along the corridor and if they need assistance with picking up litter near and around their home then let’s do it ourselves. To work alongside Code Compliance and solve the specific need that is creating an ongoing problem with volunteer people power if need be, to include cutting a neighbors grass and graffiti removal. Let’s do it and clean the area along the corridor with the help of a new Business Improvement District model to guide the way. We have been negligent in the day to day appearance and now we must create a plan to take ownership and not wait for City Hall or others to solve a problem, we can solve it for ourselves. We also have many bike lanes and would like to see police bike patrols interact with the business corridor neighbors to make a friendlier appeal for the area.

“I am an Immigration and Tax Attorney for the past ten years. I am a graduate of St. Mary’s University with a B.A. in Political Science, graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a Master’s in City Planning and Law Degree from St. Mary’s School of Law.”

Marie Crabb, Realtor

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Crabb: “I oppose proposition B. I feel that contract negotiations for police officers is necessary so that we can make sure that neighborhoods consistently have patrols and are kept safe. Additionally, many district residents have repeatedly reaffirmed in our discussions that they want more police presence and are not in favor of actions that further endanger the existing relationship. I do however firmly believe that both the police association and the city should take our citizens into account and reach the best deal for both sides, always. Zero-sum negotiations are not healthy when we’re discussing the safety and perceived representation of justice for our communities. Removing collective bargaining does not alter policies under which bad or malicious behavior is punished, so this is not an effective way to renegotiate change.”

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

Crabb: “Homelessness is a multifaceted issue. Combating homelessness means looking at housing, mental health, counseling, trauma informed care, food insecurity and more equitable job opportunities. I feel that we need to put resources into all of these areas to work towards eliminating homelessness. I will commit to working with all Council districts towards these goals. Many of our homeless community is concentrated in District 5 as this is where the 22 Acre Haven for Hope campus is located. We here in District 5 have long unquestioningly opened our hearts and our locale to our most at risk community, and I believe that in order to reach a more comprehensive solution we will need city-wide supported assistance moving forward in this discussion and concrete plans involving all council districts. However, I also know that much of the work for homelessness needs to happen at the federal and the state level and I will commit to working with them to increase funding and housing options.”

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?

Crabb: “We must be more proactive in identifying lots that are continual dumping grounds. I would like to explore camera technology, like red-light technology used at stop lights, to cut down on those that are doing illegal dumping and issue citations for those that are caught. It costs us money to deal with illegal dumping either way, so I feel we need to be more innovative about how we are addressing it. Poor road conditions and infrastructure is one of the most mentioned concerns community members bring up in our discussions. I plan on getting a full audit of the roads and sidewalks in my district, as well as the current plan for road reconstruction, overlays and pothole work. From there, I will work to make sure that all parts of the district receive some relief within my first term.”

Rudy Lopez, Retired

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Lopez: “I am against Prop B. As a proud union member, I strongly believe in collective bargaining for city employees, especially police officers. The city and the police need to come together to decide what best serves both the SAPD and the citizens of San Antonio regarding benefits, pay and retirement.

“However, the issues that I believe need to be addressed are the selection of the arbitrator and the 180-day rule, which lets officers get away with offenses that are hideous, disgusting, and completely unbecoming of someone we place our trust to protect our communities. I believe that these two concerns could be negotiated at the table.”

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

Lopez: “Firstly, we as a community need to prevent homelessness by addressing the cause before a person becomes homeless. Many people in the homeless community are veterans, a completely unacceptable reality.

“We must do our best to locate our veterans and provide them with local and government assistance immediately. One homeless veteran is far too many. We need to protect those most vulnerable, especially our seniors, from predatory developers and ensure people are paid fairly for their property or and never forced to leave their home. It is also critical that developers are building quality, affordable housing throughout District 5 and not simply building apartment complexes that destroy the culture of our community.

“Secondly, we need make sure that citizens are educated about available tax breaks and are taking advantage of them. We must freeze taxes for our legacy and generational homeowners so that they can stay in their homes and provide programs that allow them to improve their property if it needs repairs.

“Finally, for those who are already homeless, we must provide training and educational services so that they can begin to help themselves. We should partner with local businesses who need employees are are willing to help people get a second chance at a normal life. I strongly believe in the adage of teaching a person to fish so they can feed themselves for life.”

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?

Lopez: “District 5 has numerous infrastructure issues which need addressed immediately. Roads need to be repaired or completely reconstructed, sidewalks must be installed to protect pedestrians, and provide additional streetlights to improve safety and prevent crime in community. We should make all these improvements using the equity model.

“For litterers and graffiti violators, those who are caught fined heavily. We can install recording devices in areas where community members inform us have the most consistent issues. This can catch not only illegal graffiti and dumping, but also other crimes prevalent in the community.

“Graffiti needs to need addressed immediately. In my eight years leading a neighborhood association, we successfully reduced instances of graffiti by not only encouraging our members to call 311 but also by holding graffiti cleanup events. By removing graffiti quickly, it discouraged additional graffiti.

“To prevent illegal dumping, we need to educate the community about the free dumping sites located throughout the city. Furthermore, we can work with neighborhood associations to organize Dial-a-Trailer events which provide residents an opportunity to dispose of bulky items in their community”

Norberto “Geremy” Landin, VP of operations

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Landin: “I am against Proposition B because I support unions’ right to collective bargaining. Experience has shown that meet and confer is not as effective as collective bargaining, as has been the case for the teacher’s union. Additionally, collective bargaining allows for  female police officers the opportunity to fight for equal pay and minimizes political influence on promotions.  I believe that the disciplinary and accountability issues that exist with the police force can be addressed at the table through collective bargaining.”

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

Landin: “Having been homeless and a part of the McKinney Vento program for unaccompanied students during high school, I can understand what it would be like to not have a roof over my head and the struggles that come with it. I know how important it is to ensure that there are sufficient affordable housing units in San Antonio and that the needs of the people living in these units are met. Along with sufficient affordable housing, we need to ensure homeless people have access to city programs like workforce development. I want to tackle this issue along three fronts.  The first is ID recovery.  Getting proper identification can ensure that people are able to sign up to receive services.  Second is housing first.  Before we ask the homeless to meet a certain criteria, they must have the safety and security of having a roof over their head.  Finally, I would like to see that the Ready to Work program have slots dedicated to those who are without a home and who are seeking to learn a trade. 

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?

Landin: “When building and improving our roads and sidewalks, we need to ensure that we are installing broadband internet infrastructure whenever possible. San Antonio, and specifically the westside and southside, has a large portion of its residents without proper access to the Internet and the City must do its diligence to help end this digital divide by building needed infrastructure and ensuring it is affordable for all families.. As of the issue with dumping, we need to expand bulk pick up and other clean up programs to combat this environmental issue. To lessen graffiti, I would encourage local businesses and organizations to work with local artists to create murals as well as continuing to install lighting in dim areas.”

Ricardo Moreno, Assistant Principal

Are you for or against Prop B and why?

Moreno: “No, I do not support Proposition B, as an educator in a state that does not allow teachers to collectively bargain, I understand the importance in doing what is right for personnel. This has a large impact on the overall compensation package of the SAPD, in particular insurance and pension benefits. This can adversely affect the quality of personnel that will be handling emergencies throughout our communities. Ultimately, we would want to have the most qualified and adept personnel to handle such emergencies, we would not want to deter stellar candidates from applying.

“I feel hard and honest conversations must be had in order to provide all our stakeholders a community based on trust, tolerance, and equity. We must review how certain items are allocated, but if you examine the budget of SAPD you will see, just as similar to School Districts, approximately 85% of the budget goes towards salary, insurance, and benefits. We can find ways to create a balanced budget that meets the needs of all to create a fair and responsive presence in our neighborhoods.”

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

Moreno: “I believe this a multi-layered question. I would welcome the opportunity to provide more support to all programs that work for our homeless population. The idea would be how COSA creates methods of support for those in need; many times our homeless population is dealing with a form of addiction, trauma, or plain old back luck. Mental health has always been a pressing matter that afflicts our communities in particular our homeless population. These issues have come to forefront with the ensuing pandemic and have made many discrepancies very clear. Many of our ISD’s developed and provided wrap-around services with counselors, social workers, and Communities in Schools and when necessary in communicating and referring students and families to agencies. Let us work to emulate some of these measures in COSA to collectively address mental health support for our community members and find more ways to expand the accessibility. Additionally, I feel more must be provided by all sectors of government at the local, state, federal to close the gap with mental health and health inequities, which could increase support to our homeless population. I would advocate for a significant increase in construction of public housing across the city with reinvestment and rehabilitation of all existing public housing units and an end to tax cuts for developers. I feel that would be vital in providing support and relief to our residents in particular those in district 5. These tax cuts have ballooned and have had negative impacts, such as lost revenue for many of programs, which would aid in supporting our District 5 community. Developers must pay their share in our local economy and this influx of revenue could assist in creating additional support for our displaced persons.”

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?

Moreno: “My goal would be to implement a yearly assessment that is put in place to evaluate the needs of the community. Ideally, we would look to enhance in the areas that are deficient and need upgrades. I would continue to engage stakeholders in these conversations through forums (virtual or in person) and surveys (digital or print) to ensure that district 5 is fairly represented and distributed in an equitable fashion. I also support Proposition A to change the city charter language and expand the use of bond money beyond public works. I believe the measure would allow the city to provide relief and funds to areas that have long been unrepresented. This would be another tool to refine and stimulate growth that has been stagnant, helping in homes being rehabilitated, assisting with infrastructure, encouraging business development, and restoring opportunities to beautify areas within our District 5 community.”

Jesse J. Alaniz, Retired

Did not respond.

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.